During the 2020 Market Outlook Workshop August 6 and 7, more than 140 people from across the U.S. and Canada gathered together via laptops and electronic devices to learn what economic experts predict may happen in the short and long term and how that could affect the valves and pumps industries, and to discuss what they were hearing.
“The feedback to our first virtual event and overall participation was even better than we expected,” said Heather Rhoderick, CAE, president of Valve Manufacturers Association (VMA), which produced the event with the Hydraulic Institute (HI).
Participants heard forecasts on the domestic and global economy and trade, and presentations on what might (or might not) happen in end user industries such as water/wastewater, oil and gas, power, chemical/refining, commercial construction, pulp & paper and food & beverage. They also gathered for discussion room chats on seven different topics.
“We were excited to partner with the Hydraulic Institute to create this unique event, and we believe that having the two associations work together enriched the experience for all,” said Rhoderick.
Although the main presentations were pre-recorded, speakers were on-hand to answer questions and the discussion forums were live with anywhere from a dozen to 50 people participating in each chat room. “All of these elements added a level of depth to the education everyone received and provided a robust view of these two closely related industries,” Rhoderick added.
The speakers and economists at this year’s workshop made it clear that the chaotic nature of today’s world means making predictions is extremely challenging. Some offered caveats that indicated different scenarios based on when the pandemic is under control (i.e., when states can open up, when a vaccine is discovered and implemented, and when consumer sentiment and buying habits respond positively).
In a discussion forum hosted by ITR Economics, Alex Chauvosky talked about the timing for capital investment, then fielded questions from participants looking for ways to recover and thrive as the world moves toward a rising cycle. He predicted that the recovery will likely start in the second quarter of next year, but that it may take until 2023 before the economy is back to a more normal pace.
Among his tips were:
Think about what you wish you had done at the trough of the last recession and do it now.
The present is an absolute “gem” of a time to use other people’s money. For example, interest rates are so low, this a great time to buy equipment.
Offering a Wall Street perspective of the flow control industry, Michael Halloran of Baird predicted what to expect once the nation exits the COVID-19 crisis:
- Greater differentiation will occur in the markets in terms of quality of products and market position, which means balance sheets will matter even more going forward.
- Remote connectivity, the Internet of Things, network support, R&D and differentiation of product categories is going to be vital as we move forward.
- Onshoring, which has received a tremendous amount of publicity in recent years, will likely now be focused first on critical industries such as health care with follow on tied to global trade, the political landscape in countries and government incentives. Still, regionalization of supply chains, which is already a strong trend, will remain a driver regardless of what happens with onshoring.
- Work from home and distributed power generation are “moderate catalysts” that need to play through before they become more meaningful in the whole picture.
AN EVENT WELL RECEIVED
Those are only two examples from the dozen formal presentations. One thing that became clear after the meeting was that what happened over the day and a half event, which also included chat rooms and networking events, could be considered a resounding success.
Respondents to the after-meeting survey showed strong support and appreciation for the breadth and depth of content as well as the format for the event. When participants were asked if they would recommend the workshop to a colleague, for example, 100% said “yes”. All respondents also answered that they were either “Extremely Satisfied” or “Satisfied” when ask about their overall feelings on the events.
IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO PARTICIPATE
All recordings, chats and discussion forums remain open to MOW registrants several weeks after the event’s conclusion. In fact, for those who wish they had registered, planners are offering a solution: Visit the Virtual MOW website, review the agenda and register. The site is open until Sept. 4, 2020.
In addition to VMA and HI, additional sponsors included ITR Economics and Empowering Pumps & Equipment. Media sponsors included VALVE Magazine, Pumps & Systems and Pump Engineering. Attendees were offered the opportunity to request information online about the products and services of any of the sponsors.
Both associations are pleased the outcome of this virtual event. While no one can predict with 100% certainty what next year may bring, VMA’s Heather Rhoderick summed up what many hope:
“We look forward to seeing everyone in person next summer for MOW 2021,” she said.