The consensus among economists is that the recession ended mid-2009 and the economy is regaining strength. Now, that doesn’t mean that every business and every segment began recovering at that time. We’re waiting for the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBRE), who declares the start and end of recessions in U.S., to formally declare the recession is over. But typically they won’t make an official pronouncement until well after the fact, sometimes a year after. For example, the recession began in December 2007, but they didn’t announce it until December 2008.

What are things a company could do to benefit during the upswing?

The composites industry needs to be very efficient and demonstrate where it can provide solutions. Of course it’s difficult to do this in downturn economy; sometimes you have to cut costs to survive. But it’s best to take the unpleasant medicine and keep going. I’d also say it is important to streamline operations, which people are already doing. So next, be prepared for when the upturn starts in respective business areas. You don’t want to wait until you hear the robins, or you’ll miss spring.

How will your presentation at COMPOSITES 2010 differ from when you presented in 2009?

In 2009 people had more doubts about an economic recovery and things were still heading down. But now we can see the turnaround in many industries, for example in automotive and housing. So my outlook for the show will be focused on the more positive signs that recovery is under way.

What benefits of composites aren’t promoted enough?

I think there are multiple features and advantages that composites offer. The best known of course is light-weight and strength to weight ratio. But other benefits like corrosion resistance and part consolidation is a huge benefit within the automotive industry. With composites, several parts can be consolidated into one. Composites also lend itself to flexibility of design. There are so many benefits that companies need to look at the application, see what is most important to their customers and focus on how it could help them in that application.

What do you see happening in regards to unemployment in 2010?

I think we will start gaining jobs in 2010, even though the unemployment index will probably not come down very much. Ironically, unemployment may still go up in 2010, but numbers can be deceiving. The current unemployment rate is 10 percent, in a year it is predicted we will close at 9 to 10.5 percent. However, unemployment is the number of people looking for jobs. In 2009 there were many who were discouraged and weren’t even looking. But now that the industry is looking up, some of those people will now come back into the job search pool, which will bump up the unemployment number. An individual’s acid test should be: Are we creating new jobs? The answer to that is that we will see an increase in job creation over the next year.