Industry Pulse Survey

AMBA has launched periodic Pulse Surveys to give business leaders insight into the state of the mold building industry during the COVID-19 pandemic and what the industry may look like as businesses look further into 2020.

The short, one-minute survey takes the pulse of business operations by asking eight questions over a two-day period. As AMBA continues to collect data, AMBA will also begin to trend past results and forecast industry shifts based on the inputs from leaders in the mold building industry.

AMBA will continue to release periodic versions of this survey. To participate in the future, participants complete the questions via a personalized email link. If you did not participate in this first survey and would like to in the future, please request to be added to the respondent list by clicking here.

Pulse Survey Data

  • Week 1: Apr. 24 - Apr. 26
  • Week 2: May 6 - May 8
  • Week 3: May 20 - May 22
  • Week 4: Jun. 3 - Jun. 5
  • Week 5: June 23 - June 25
  • Week 6: July 15-17

This data represents over 640 responses from mold builders over the course of six separate data collection periods (defined above). These companies primarily serve over 15 industry markets. The most common market served reported by respondents was the automotive market (36 percent), followed by the medical market (22 percent). Consumer goods is the third most commonly served market (nine percent).

At what level is your plant currently operating?

In Week 6, results did not vary widely from Week 5 responses. However, there was a noticeable drop in the percentage of companies that have been reporting being in full operations and a rise in companies that are now at about 50-75% in operations.

Of those that named automotive as their primary market: 

  • Despite a high of sixty-five percent of respondents who reported in the last data collection period that they were in full operations, this week that percentage has dropped back down to 47 percent.
  • In Week 6, six percent of these respondents reported that they are at less than 25 percent of operations.

Of those that named medical as their primary market: 

  • This week, 79 percent of those who primarily serve the medical market report full operations - a drop of nearly ten percent.
  • Seventeen percent are running at 25-50 percent of operations; for the first time, four percent report being at less than 25 percent of operations

What percent of your customers are shut down?

Although those reporting that none of their customers are shut down continued to rise slightly, most respondents was a little movement in other areas where ten percent and 30 percent of customers were shut down. 

At what level are you currently staffed?

Staffing considerations for mold builders remained relatively stable again during this data collection period.

Three-quarters of this survey's respondents report that they are 90-100 percent staffed, followed by 18 percent who are about 75 percent staffed. When looking at the other end of the data, the data is the same - only one percent indicate they are fully shut down, while just three percent report that they are less than 50 percent staffed. 

Of those that named automotive as their primary market: 

  • Sixty-one percent report that they are 90-100 percent staffed, a significant drop of over ten percent from the previous period; only three percent continue to be less than 50 percent staffed

Of those that named medical as their primary market: 

  • 91 percent of companies that specialize in the medical market continue to report that they are 90-100 percent staffed
  • Nine percent now indicate that they are 75 percent staffed

Have you received Payroll Protection Funds? (last week reported: Week 4)

Of the 112 respondents represented in Week 4, 74 percent have now applied for and received Payroll Protection Funds, followed by five percent who have applied, are approved and are waiting for funds to arrive. 

When broken down by the primary markets served named by respondents - automotive, medical and consumer goods - the percentage of companies that applied for funds and were approved is as follows: 

  • Automotive: 81 percent received funds; 2 percent are approved and waiting for funds 
  • Consumer goods: 78 percent received funds; none are currently waiting for funds; 22 percent report not applying
  • Medical: 75 percent received funds; none are currently waiting for funds; 25 percent report not applying

Very few mold builders report that their employees are out on referenced Acts asked in the above question; 88 percent indicate that zero percent of their employees are currently out, while 11 percent indicate that one-to-ten percent of their employees are out. Only one percent report significant employee loss due to this challenge.

Are you experiencing supply chain issues that impact your ability to produce? (not asked in Week 6)

For the first time since the beginning of this survey, the percentage of respondents reporting no issues with the supply chain was higher than those reporting minimal issues and/or only minor disruptions in their supply chain (46 percent v. 42 percent). Zero percent report major issues and/or large and serious disruptions.

In terms of future staff planning (next 6-12 months), we are...

The percentage of companies interested in adding staff began to fall this week - in Week 6, 33 percent report looking to add staff, while 55 percent look to maintain staff levels. The highest percentage of respondents yet reported in this period that they will have some permanent or semi-permanent staff reductions.

When broken down by industry, these numbers have wavered - some weeks they have risen, others they have fallen - likely indicating that there continues to be a high level of uncertainty concerning current and future work in 2020 despite the re-opening of facilities. 

How are you forecasting revenue through 2020?

This week, there were two large moments at the end of the curve - those who believe they be at 95 percent or above their 2020 forecast rose nearly ten percent, while those reporting that they will earn less than 50 percent of their 2020 Forecast also rose by three percent. When broken down by the primary markets served named by respondents - automotive, medical and consumer goods - reported anticipated forecast percentages included: 

  • Automotive: Nineteen percent now anticipate 95 percent or above, followed by 61 percent who anticipate 75 percent of their 2020 forecast. Approximately 19 percent report anticipating 50 percent of their 2020 forecast.
  • Consumer goods: Only 14 percent anticipate 95 percent or above of their 2020 forecast, followed by 57 percent who anticipate 75 percent; while none reported anticipating below 75 percent or 50 percent of their 2020 forecast in early weeks, both now reflect 14 percent of respondents
  • Medical: Sixty-one percent of respondents indicate anticipating 95 percent or above of the 2020 forecast . Only thirty percent still anticipate only 75 percent of their 2020 forecast, followed by 4 percent who now anticipate only 50 percent of their 2020 forecast, as well as less than 50% of their 2020 forecast. Optimism seems to be dropping quickly for those who focus on this industry.

(Asked only in Weeks 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6) At this time, with the information available to you and your team, when are you anticipating production levels to return to "normal"?

When asked at what point production levels would return to "normal", there is a marked difference between this week and earlier weeks. Twenty-eight percent now report that production levels have not been impacted, while a whopping 47 percent now anticipate that levels will not return to "normal" this year.

In past weeks, the highest percentage of the remaining respondents have believed the normalcy would return in June, which has come and gone. Currently, the next highest percentage of respondents now report that they believe it will be November before production levels return to what they considered normal.

Additional Insights

Throughout these collection periods, miscellaneous questions have been added or removed depending on their timeliness and the environment and do not convey the same "trending" data as those above. For further insights into these particular topics, please see below.

Are any of your employees currently out on the expanded Emergency Paid Sick Leave or Emergency Family Medical Leave Act related to COVID-19 permitted under the FFCRA? (asked only in Week 5)  

How many weeks of operating cash do you currently have on hand? (asked only in Week 5)

When asked how much operating cash each respondent had on hand, answers varied widely. Just over one-third (36 percent) report that they have less than six weeks of operating cash on hand, while another quarter report having either three months or less or more than six months worth on hand. Only 15 percent chose six months as the closest representation of how much cash they had on hand. 

When broken down by industry, those who primarily serve the medical market were weighted heavily towards larger amounts of cash on hand - 43 percent report having six months or more. Consumer goods varied sharply - although 25 percent report having more than six months of operating cash on hand, nearly 40 percent report having only four weeks or less. Automotive tended to vary widely - however, nearly half of these respondents have between three and six months of operating cash on hand, while a quarter have less than four weeks of operating cash on hand. 

Have you reduced wages/salaries by more than 25% for any of your employees? (asked only in Week 6)

Since March 1, have you reshored/received new orders for products? (asked only in Week 6)

Of those companies who have had new products reshored, those reshored projects came from: 

As Washington considers additional COVID-19 legislation to stabilize and stimulate the economy, please indicate the top priorities you would like to see Congress include.

Because the full responses are not listed above, they have been included below in order of most popular responses.

Response Options # of Respondents
Create a new tax credit to support the onshoring of manufacturing activities, such as moving operations to the U.S. or investing in capital equipment, to support the purchase of property, facilities and more 65
Make 100% business expensing permanent 43
Provide tax incentives to help companies recruit and train the skilled workforce needed to expand modern manufacturing in the U.S. 40
Access to capital – 5-year government guaranteed loans, 2% loans (not forgiven) for equipment, tools, materials, R&D and facility improvements/expansions 38
6.2% payroll tax holiday for March-December 2020 36
Make General Business Credits Refundable (General Business Credits include: R&D, investment, work opportunity, renewable, new markets, etc.) 30
Create an incentive, effective for a limited period of time after operations are moved to the United States, to help mitigate increased labor costs. 29
Establish business liability protection for employers 27
Provide funding for Career and Technical Education, MEPs, federal job training programs 21
Trade-In Trade-Up auto purchase incentive program 13