The Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA) has released the results of its 2022 WWEMA Member Market Indicators Survey. The survey tracks business activity and anticipated activity of manufacturers and their representatives within the water and wastewater market for two annual periods, in the following eight business areas:
- Design Work
- Domestic Sales
- International Sales
- Company Employment
- Materials Costs
- Industry Market Growth
The results of the survey show strong overall industry performance with growth of approximately 80 percent or greater in seven of the eight business areas. The lowest performing area was international sales, which grew but at a more moderate pace of 28% in the September 2021 – August 2022 base survey period. This widespread industry growth spans the range of technologies and products supplied by WWEMA members and was present despite the challenging economic conditions posed by the on-going Coronavirus pandemic, rising inflation, supply chain delays, and workforce challenges. Respondents reported robust domestic sales with 88% noting an increase over the prior annual reporting period and an overwhelming majority (82%) reporting sales growth in the 5-10 percent ranges. These strong results generally met the high expectations for this period projected in last year’s survey. Looking ahead to the September 2022 – August 2023 period, domestic sales are expected to continue at a solid growth pace with 88% of respondents expecting positive growth and nearly three-quarters of that group (71%) estimating growth to reach the 5-10 percent ranges.
Not surprisingly, the survey confirmed across-the-board industry cost escalation for materials. All survey respondents reported an increase for material costs with nearly three-quarters of respondents reporting increases of 10 percent. Several factors are likely contributing to cost increases including wage growth, supply chain delays and disruptions, and an overall inflationary environment. The survey also included a question regarding the greatest impediment to business growth. The number one concern noted by 47% of respondents was supply chain challenges; this was the same issue cited most frequently in last year’s survey by respondents for this question. Other issues cited include staffing, Buy America requirements, and inflation with 21%, 18%, and 15% of respondents, respectively, noting these challenges.
This year’s survey added a question regarding whether respondents plan to adjust their Business Plans due to the new Buy America requirements contained in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Exactly half of the manufacturers surveyed indicated they would and the remaining half noted they would not be making any adjustments. Several of those that hadn’t made adjustments noted it was too soon to tell if they would eventually modify their Business Plans. The survey collected detailed responses about the modifications, some of which include:
- purchasing companies that have manufacturing based in the U.S.
- establishing or expanding manufacturing for products normally produced outside of the U.S
- entering additional markets with new equipment
- downsizing the overseas workforce
- using alternative and more costly domestic supply sources
The full survey report that includes detailed data for each market indicator with specific growth rates for the current and future evaluation timeframes, differences between data reported by manufacturers and manufacturers’ representatives, and a comparison with results from other related industry and national economic data is available exclusively for WWEMA members.
Since 1908, WWEMA has informed, educated, and provided leadership on the issues that shape the future of the water and wastewater industry. Its member companies supply the most sophisticated leading-edge products and technologies, offering solutions to every water-related environmental problem and need facing today’s society. For more information, visit www.wwema.org.