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Survey: Regional business owners 'slightly' optimistic, need more talent

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Privately held and family owned companies have a better outlook for their business than they did over the past year.

That according to the results of a survey conducted by Horsham-based business advisory firm, Kreischer Miller.

The firm has released the first of what it plans on being a twice a year survey of the business of private and family owned companies in the Greater Philadelphia region, which includes the Lehigh Valley.

The Kreischer Miller Center for Private Company Excellence Inaugural Private Company Pulse Survey looks at how these businesses leaders view the current outlook for their companies, what their biggest challenges are and where they are investing their money.

As part of the survey participants were asked to rank their outlook for their business on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the most optimistic. They were then asked to rank their outlook from six months ago and one year ago.

Participants ranked their outlook at 7.22, compared to 7.06 six months ago and 6.23 a year ago, an overall improvement of 15 percent.

Mario Vicari, spokesman for Kreischer Miller, said the survey was taken over the summer months.

“Reasonably optimistic,” is how he described the respondents’ view of the economy.

Of those surveyed 50.6 percent said they are somewhat optimistic and 30.9 percent are neutral. Just 14.8 percent said they are very optimistic about the economy.

“That’s not overwhelming. It’s just slightly above average,” Vicari said.

Sales are expected to be up, but not dramatically according to the survey.

• 53.1 percent said they expected sales increases of between zero and 5 percent.

• 27.2 percent said they expected sales increases of between 6 percent and 10 percent

• 9.9 percent said they expected sales increases of between 11 percent and 15 percent

• 8.6 percent said they expected sales increases of over 15 percent, and

• 1.2 percent said they expected a decline in sales.

The biggest challenge the businesses had was hiring employees, Vicari said.

“The economy is pretty close to full employment by traditional measures,” he said.

That means finding the right talent for the right job has become a top concern.

The response was overwhelming with 35.8 percent of respondents indicating access to talent was their top concern – eclipsing all other answers according to Vicari.

The next highest concern, declining demand for products and services was cited by only 13.6 percent of respondents.

That means companies will be putting money into talent acquisition and training.

The survey showed that 81.5 percent of the companies plan to invest in new employees.

The next biggest investment was technology with 65.4 percent saying they would make investments in new technology

Just over 50 percent said they would invest in new equipment.

Vicari said the firm decided to specifically look at the outlook for privately held and family owned businesses because most other surveys look at the opinions of the larger, publicly held companies.

“But the largest employers in the nation, and especially in this region, are privately held and family owned business. We think they’re a pretty important group to be paying attention to,” he said.

Vicari said Kreischer Miller will conduct its second Private Company Pulse Survey starting in January.

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Stacy Wescoe

Stacy Wescoe

Writer and online editor Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter at @morestacy and on Facebook. Circle Stacy Wescoe on .

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