2013: A Look Back


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After a very challenging year for the domestic PCB industry, global business conditions are slowly improving. Let’s take a look back at 2013 and also a look forward to what we can expect as we move into the New Year.

Like many of you, I grew up in this business. I cut my teeth (and more than a few body parts) in this industry working for my dad in the family business. At the risk of dating myself, this was well before the advent of CNC machines, CAD/CAM and automatic plating equipment. Throughout the past three decades, I have been proud to see this business grow into the professional industry it has become. I am vested in the success of our industry; it matters to me.

2013 News Flash: The U.S. economy is still not working!

After a number of false starts, missteps, and failed technologies in the renewable industry, solar/photovoltaic demand is beginning to recover. Europe's tighter fiscal policies have squeezed consumer purchasing power and increased sovereign-debt tensions, which has an impact on global business. U.S. consumer confidence has not improved and is still hovering around 80%. The unemployment rate is 7.2% (published), which is bad enough, but after factoring in the millions of people that are no longer counted because they have flat-out quit looking, the “real” unemployment number is somewhere north of 14% (Forbes/BLS). The U.S. is dead last in the world for Gross Domestic Product growth in 2013 at 1.7%; forecasts for 2014 are only slightly better, at 2.8%, pulling ahead of only Japan and the EU. Whether it is RoHS, conflict minerals or the EPA, restrictive legislation continues to make it harder for PCB manufacturers to not only make a profit, but survive. Look for the biggest to get bigger through acquisitions both domestically and globally.

Read the full column here.

Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of The PCB Design Magazine.

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