Middle-Market Companies Struggling with Inflation and Supply Chain Disruptions, Reports Marcum-Hofstra Survey
NOVEMBER 18, 2021 (New York City, NY) – About two-thirds of mid-market CEOs have been impacted by rising costs due to inflation and more than 40 percent believe the country is in a long-term inflationary cycle that will require government intervention, according to the latest CEO survey from Marcum LLP and Hofstra University’s Frank G. Zarb School of Business.
While confidence in the current business outlook remains strong – 41.7% of CEOs rate their outlook as an “8” or higher, up slightly from the September survey – it’s clear that supply chain problems and inflation are making it increasingly difficult for mid-market companies to keep consumer prices low.
Among the CEOs who said that rising costs are affecting their business, 42.6% said they are passing along some or all of those additional costs to their consumers, the survey found. In addition, those CEOs cited cutting expenses (22.7%), postponing expansion plans (15.5%), and reducing staff or hiring (12.8%) among the ways they are addressing inflation.
About a quarter (23.2%) said they have absorbed rising costs, taking a significant hit to their profit margins and bottom lines.
“Middle-market companies are challenged to manage coalescing inflationary pressures and supply chain disruptions. Somewhat less than half of CEOs reported that they are passing increased costs on to their customers, while a majority are absorbing all or some of the impact. This is forcing companies to be highly strategic in how they are managing cash flow and sourcing materials and inventory, and there is very little if any margin for error. This speaks to the entrepreneurial drive of middle-market companies, but the situation is unsustainable in the long-term,” said Jeffrey M. Weiner, Marcum’s chairman & chief executive officer.
Right now, it appears that inflation is a more pressing concern for mid-market companies than supply chain problems. While 67.6 percent of CEOs said their businesses were impacted by inflation, only 54.45 said that supply chain bottlenecks were affecting them.
“Our latest survey shows that small and mid-sized companies are at a tipping point, as they juggle the challenges of supply chain problems, inflation and labor shortages,” said K.G. Viswanathan, interim dean of the Zarb School. “The survey results also bring into sharp relief the debate nationwide over what are the best next steps to address inflation, with CEOs nearly evenly split over the need for government action versus those who believe it is tied to supply chain issues and will pass.”
Similar to the previous survey, economic concerns and availability of talent were cited most often by CEOs as influences on business planning for the next year. But in this latest survey, rising material and operational costs overtook technology as the third most cited planning influence.
The survey polled the leaders of 259 companies with revenues ranging from $5 million to $1 billion-plus in early November 2021.
The Marcum-Hofstra CEO Survey is a periodic gauge of mid-market CEOs’ outlook and their priorities for the next 12 months. It is conducted as part of the Zarb School of Business MBA curriculum, and developed and analyzed by Hofstra MBA students led by Dr. Andrew Forman, associate professor of international business and marketing, in partnership with Marcum.
“With nearly half of our survey respondents calling for government action on inflation, it will be interesting to see in our next survey if and how mid-market CEOs react to President Biden’s choice for the next chair of the Federal Reserve, which is expected by Thanksgiving,” Forman said. “The Marcum-Hofstra survey gives our students a new lens through which to view and evaluate business leaders’ decisions in real time.”
CEOs also provided written answers about what actions, if any, they are considering to protect their businesses from future supply chain concerns:
- We have decided to implement our own fleet of trucks that will transport and bring raw materials to our plants directly.
- Stockpiling more than usual.
- Diversifying the countries where we source product, and the companies we use for shipping.
- Being up front and transparent with our customers.
- Establishing longer lead times both from our customers as well as suppliers.
- No matter what steps we take there seems to be something that is suddenly not available or backordered. We are trying to keep more items on hand, but this is costly.
About the Frank G. Zarb School of Business at Hofstra University
Hofstra University’s Frank G. Zarb School of Business prepares students to become tomorrow’s global leaders. Located just 25 miles from New York City, Zarb students have access to internships and networking opportunities across every industry. The Zarb School combines entrepreneurial, hands-on learning and research with real-world experience and mentorship in state-of-the-art facilities, including a Behavioral Research in Business Lab, Center for Entrepreneurship, and academic trading room. Our undergraduate and graduate programs in accounting, management and entrepreneurship, marketing and international business, finance, and business analytics are ranked and recognized by US News & World Report. For more information, visit www.hofstra.edu/zarb.
About Marcum LLP
Marcum LLP is a top-ranked national accounting and advisory firm dedicated to helping entrepreneurial, middle-market companies and high net worth individuals achieve their goals. Marcum’s industry-focused practices offer deep insight and specialized services to privately held and publicly registered companies, and nonprofit and social sector organizations. The Firm also provides a full complement of technology, wealth management, and executive search and staffing services. Headquartered in New York City, Marcum has offices in major business markets across the U.S. and select international locations. #AskMarcum.