Don't let bleak headlines fool you: all is not rotten in the state of Canadian manufacturing. It still comprises 13% of the national GDP; and while some areas, such as automotive, are unlikely ever to return to pre-recession output, others are stronger than ever. Calum Semple, leader of the industrial manufacturing practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Toronto, says energy, mining, infrastructure and shipbuilding projects across Canada are ratcheting up demand for component and equipment suppliers. And for reasons such as nationalism (for government-backed projects) and a reluctance to source from disruption-prone foreign markets, the managers of these undertakings are particularly warm to home-grown manufacturers. "The people running these projects like 'local,'" says Semple.
There's also a big opening to help manufacturers streamline their operations. PwC research shows that two-thirds of Canadian industrial manufacturers are planning major capital purchases in 2012. "Companies are investing in equipment—particularly, automation systems—more than ever before," says Jayson Myers, president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters in Ottawa. That's creating a host of opportunities in sectors such as IT, industrial design, engineering and logistics.