By most accounts, 2012 has been a challenging year. The ongoing worldwide recession has been exacerbated by a worsening euro zone crisis, causing continued uncertainty in the global markets. And though the economy remains our major challenge, it’s certainly not the only one. In a recent ASI E-News survey, readers indicated their company’s biggest challenges this year: poor/unstable economy, 38.4%; raw materials supply, 23.1%; employee attraction/retention, 15.4%; and 7.7% each for overseas competition, credit availability, and other.

When asked what steps they’ve taken to overcome the challenge, one respondent said, “Secure market share by improved product performance, maintaining competitive price.” According to a Bostik representative, the company “expects increased raw materials capacity to relax price and availability pressures as we enter 2013. However, rapidly expanding geographic markets in Asia will soon require that increased capacity, underlining the importance of having olefin adhesives in the mix.”

While we have seen some fledgling signs of improvement here in the U.S.—with the housing market and manufacturing levels on the rise, and unemployment slowly decreasing—a return to pre-2008 levels still seems a long way off. No matter where you fall in the political spectrum, it’s clear that this year’s presidential election has heightened the stakes for U.S. companies. A recent survey of ASI E-News readers shows that 63.6% of respondents believe that the outcome of the election will have a large impact on U.S. manufacturing; 27.1% believe the outcome will have a little impact, while the remaining 9.1% of respondents think the election result will not impact manufacturing.

Daniel S. Murad, president of The ChemQuest Group, provides a cautiously optimistic outlook in his “State of the Industry Report.” He writes, “While the recovery has been slowly gaining momentum, the long-term prospects for growth for adhesives and sealants are tremendous, particularly in reactive/structural technologies and end uses.” Read the full report.