Susan MuchaBusinesses are happy, but more work remains to be done.

In February 2017, I published a column called “The Trump Effect and Manufacturing.” I thought it would be timely to revisit it since, with the passing of the tax plan, manufacturing companies face both opportunities and challenges in the coming year.

So, what will the Trump effect bring in 2018? Business is already seeing positive benefits:

In short, the policies of the past year have been fairly good for the EMS sector and those who work in it.

Some significant hurdles must be addressed, however:

Most manufacturing CEOs I know are much happier with the direction that policy has moved in the past year. Tax and regulatory reform has lifted some significant burdens. However, without materials and sufficient workforce, product cannot be built. The ability to sustain the current momentum in the manufacturing sectors requires strong focus on (changing) labor market dynamics and the healthcare cost structure. More focus is needed on community or regional manufacturing workforce training programs and funding to support manufacturing growth. Systems and automation upgrades, particularly at the regional manufacturing level, will probably continue to increase in 2018 to help force-multiply available workforce and improve responsiveness. Materials availability will likely fix itself as component manufacturers respond to the change in demand. The challenge will likely continue throughout 2018, however. For EMS companies, the Chinese adage, “may you live in interesting times,” is definitely going to be appropriate in 2018.

Susan Mucha is president of Powell-Mucha Consulting Inc. (, a consulting firm providing strategic planning, training and market positioning support to EMS companies, and author of Find It. Book It. Grow It. A Robust Process for Account Acquisition in Electronics Manufacturing Services;

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