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2020 brought some strong economic shocks. The 2nd quarter brought us the greatest percentage drop in GDP (gross domestic product) ever, and yet the 3rd quarter saw the greatest rise in GDP ever. According to Gary Master, COO of Agile Business Media, 2021 will see accelerations of certain industries, a new administration in D.C., and coronavirus vaccines. In an interview with DC Velocity, Gary utilized his 30-plus years of experience in supply chain logistics to outline what’s in store for 2021.

Right now, between pandemic-related expenses, economic uncertainty and a downturn in business, some companies are caught between the need to make changes and a lack of cash to make those changes. Still, you’re going to see some companies step it up and launch major projects. Besides unemployment rates, which are still way too high, the economic fundamentals are good.

Vaccines will provide the biggest boost to economic growth and activity in 2021. Much of economics is based on trust and confidence. The number one component to nudging towards normalcy will be the vaccine. Once we see immunization rates on the rise, we will start to relax a little and begin planning what our “normal lives” will look like again… People start thinking about traveling, about going to gatherings and events. That builds confidence and trust, and from an economic standpoint, is a very good thing.

Even though upwards of 20 million people are unemployed, we are still looking at a business environment that is risk-averse, which means now there is an even greater need for automation to take that labor risk out of your business. Human workers can get sick and can’t be counted on during a pandemic. Gary says we’re going to continue to see robotics grow throughout operations- from manufacturing to warehousing and distribution, where they perform picking, packing, put-away and truck-loading tasks. The pandemic really underlined the need for flexibility.

Resilience is key, and the global pandemic demonstrated the risks of global sourcing. Businesses need to avoid the trap of cost while ignoring risk avoidance. We need to find more sources closer to home in order to create a truly resilient supply chain.

“We will see a 3.0% to 3.5% increase in business overall next year and maybe 2.8% to 3.5% year-over-year growth in GDP. I also think that we will see across-the-board growth in the material handling industry, with certain segments—like robotics, automation, software, and services—doing particularly well. I think you are going to see a good strong year in those areas, so I am excited about 2021.”

If Gary’s excited, we can be, too! If you need a source close to home, with warehousing and data analysis included in your packaging pricing, don’t hesitate to reach out for a conversation. ForeFront Packaging is flexible, resilient, and with over 30-plus years of supply chain logistics experience, we’ve got your back for whatever 2021 has in store.