Skip to main content

2017 Indiana Manufacturing Survey: Employers are upgrading for growth

For Immediate Release Oct 4, 2017
Gears in an automated manufacturing process

INDIANAPOLIS – With ready capital and an appetite for expansion, employers in Indiana’s largest industry sector are poised to invest in a strategy that will fuel growth and help them address the ongoing workforce shortage: automation.

The 2017 Indiana Manufacturing Survey: Upgrading for Growth reveals that the manufacturing sector is in the process of increasing capital investments, with a large share of investment dollars going to automation and technology.

“Manufacturers are seeing opportunities for growth, and they can’t wait for workers to show up to make things happen,” said survey co-author Steve Jones, professor of finance at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business on the IUPUI campus. “By investing in automation, they can reduce their reliance on the available labor pool and maintain Indiana’s place in the competitive global marketplace.”

The annual manufacturing survey – authored by faculty from the IU Kelley School of Business; commissioned by Katz, Sapper & Miller; and promoted by the Indiana Manufacturers Association and Conexus Indiana – is designed to assess the state of Indiana’s manufacturing industry and provide insights into management choices made by manufacturing companies across the state.

Respondents to this year’s survey reflect views from rural to urban Indiana communities and industries ranging from industrial equipment to automotive, aerospace/defense, packaging, high-tech and health care.

“Our clients are expressing what we heard from the survey respondents: Their financial metrics look good, but they’re still challenged to operate at full potential because of the shortage of available workers,” said Jason Patch, partner-in-charge of Katz, Sapper & Miller’s Manufacturing and Distribution Services Group. “With automation more affordable and reliable than ever, it offers an increasingly attractive solution.”

Employers are not, however, seeing automation as the answer to all of their problems. In fact, the growth in automation and a more technological workplace will ultimately require more skilled workers, so the grooming and attracting of a new workforce must continue to be a priority. In addition, employers recognize that factors related to national political debates could roll back momentum if they aren’t handled correctly.

“Manufacturers feel health care costs, corporate taxes and the general regulatory environment are a drag on growth,” said survey co-author Mark Frohlich, an associate professor of operations management at the Kelley School of Business at IUPUI. “In fact, more than 60 percent of survey respondents believe a lower corporate tax rate is necessary for American manufacturers to compete up to their global potential.”

“There’s a lot of general optimism, but a lot of it depends on Washington coming through with needed reforms,” Jones said.

The 2017 Indiana Manufacturing Survey: Upgrading for Growth includes valuable data for the manufacturing community as well as service providers and economic development officials. A full copy of the report, with complete findings, is online.

About Katz, Sapper & Miller

As one of the top 60 CPA firms in the nation, Katz, Sapper & Miller has earned a reputation as a leader in the areas of accounting, tax and consulting services. Founded in 1942, the firm has nearly 400 employees and is headquartered in Indianapolis with offices in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and New York. Katz, Sapper & Miller was named one of the “Best of the Best” accounting firms in the nation by INSIDE Public Accounting magazine and has been recognized by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce as one of the “Best Places to Work in Indiana.” The firm is an independent member of PrimeGlobal, a global association of independent accounting firms. Learn more at

About the IU Kelley School of Business on the IUPUI campus

The Indiana University Kelley School of Business has been a leader in American business education for more than 95 years. With nearly 110,000 living alumni and an enrollment exceeding 10,500 students across two campuses and online, the Kelley School is among the premier business schools in the country. The Kelley School at IUPUI is home to a full-time undergraduate program and four graduate programs, including master’s programs in accounting and taxation, the Business of Medicine Physician MBA, and the Evening MBA, which is ranked 11th in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Learn more at

About the Indiana Manufacturers Association

Formed in 1901, the Indiana Manufacturers Association is the second-oldest manufacturers association in the country and the only trade association in Indiana that exclusively focuses on manufacturing. Manufacturing is the driving force of Indiana’s economy, employing more people and contributing more to Indiana’s gross domestic product than any other industry. The Indiana Manufacturers Association, representing more than 1,400 companies, is dedicated to advocating for a business climate that creates, protects and promotes quality manufacturing jobs in Indiana. The staff of the Indiana Manufacturers Association has more than 100 years of combined governmental affairs experience and is recognized as experts in areas including tax, environment, labor relations, human resources, energy, workforce development and health care. For more information, visit

Media Contact

Kelley School of Business

Teresa Mackin

More stories