Manufacturing and wholesale distribution companies surveyed by accounting provider RSM McGladrey expect to rebound from the recession beginning in late 2009 and early 2010.

However, the survey reflected a significant decline in the companies’ fortunes in the past year. Forty percent of the 920 companies surveyed reported their business as declining this year, compared to 12 percent in 2008.

The survey found that 26 percent of the companies plan to reduce capacity this year and 25 percent intend to consolidate operations, while only 15 percent plan to expand capacity.

Some industries seem to be faring better than others, however, with executives in the medical devices and food and beverage industries reporting favorable growth prospects and stronger than average business conditions.

Companies with global business activities are expected to fare better this year than companies focused only on domestic sales. Of the companies reporting sales declines for the year, only 37 percent expect declines for international markets, compared with 62 percent predicting sales declines for domestic markets. Correspondingly, sales increases are projected to be higher in international markets than domestic markets.

The top four 2009 growth strategies cited in the survey were to acquire new customers, increase sales in domestic markets, increase sales to current customers and increase brand recognition.

In addition, 95 percent of the companies surveyed plan to innovate products or processes, with new product development and product line extensions reported most frequently. Green initiatives are also a growing priority. More than half of the respondents have implemented or will implement green initiatives in 2009, with 62 percent reporting concern for the environment as the driving force behind such initiatives.

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