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Manufacturers staying competitive in recession

BY DEBBIE BLOSSOM Published: November 15, 2009

/> Those hurting the most now are the job shops — the smaller businesses that do work for other manufacturers and don’t produce products.

"They are scrambling for work today,” he said, as larger firms have cut back.

Although manufacturing has taken a recessionary hit, the months ahead "could be a perfect storm for a comeback,” said Tulsa money manager Jake Dollarhide.

Low interest rates, easier access to financing and a large talent pool, including those laid off from manufacturing firms, all will be available when hiring rebounds, Dollarhide said.

The state’s top manufacturers, such as Orchids Paper Products, "will find a way to differentiate their products,” he said. Orchids Paper, which produces bathroom tissue, paper towels and napkins and sells them to retailers for their private-label brands, has taken advantage of consumers’ switch to lower-priced merchandise. "Paper is a hot commodity again,” he said.

Peters said manufacturers have become more efficient through streamlining production and implementing lean strategies, but a key to success for many is the price of natural gas and oil.