Exports, Construction, Manufacturing

By April 20, 2008Trade

This seems fair enough, as far as it goes.

WASHINGTON – The massive cranes slicing the skies over Brazil, Dubai and China can’t come off the assembly lines fast enough at Manitowoc Co.’s manufacturing plants here and overseas.

But an insatiable global appetite doesn’t mean the Wisconsin-based heavy equipment maker is boosting its payrolls.

The company last year added about 1,000 workers to bring its total to 11,000 but has no plans to repeat that hiring binge as recessionary effects play out here and abroad, said Eric Etchart, president and general manager of Manitowoc’s crane segment. At best, Manitowoc may make some temporary employees permanent this year to help deplete a $2.88 billion crane backlog, up about 81 percent from 2006.

Manitowoc’s growing export strength is matched by its increasing caution at home _ a position mimicked by U.S. manufacturers steeling themselves for recessionary reality.

We’d say, rather, recessionary possibilities. And don’t forget increased productivity as a factor in limiting the expansion of payrolls.

The AP story also notes Friday’s statement from Caterpillar on its first quarter earnings, up 18 percent.

Which reminds us of this very good speech by Robert W. Lane, chairman and CEO of Deere & Company, delivered last month in Las Vegas. Excerpt:

While we are a solid number two in the construction market in North America, we’re aggressively expanding to become more of a global player in that business. We are growing our construction business in Latin America, Africa and Australia. And just a few weeks ago, we announced a joint venture with XCG Excavator Machinery Company in China — our first entry as a manufacturer into the rapidly growing construction markets in the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China. XCG is the third largest excavator producer in China, with a 14-model product line.

Thank goodness for trade.

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