By Sanjiv Bhaskar, Global Director, Personal Protective Equipment
Mitch is a graduate of the University of Mississippi with a degree in Accounting. He began his career with Ernst & Young where he spent six years in the Consulting and Auditing practices. Mitch joined MCR Safety in 1993 as Vice President of Finance. He assumed additional managerial responsibilities before being appointed as MCR Safety's CEO in 2003. Mitch serves on various corporate and non-profit Boards as well as currently serving as Chair of the Board for the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA).
SB: Based on your recent travels, how would you characterize the mood in the PPE industry from a customer's perspective?
ML: From the customers' perspectives, they are still seeing some growth. However, that growth is definitely slowing. If you track this activity along the supply chain, you can easily observe that this sluggishness has already occurred at the factory level. The European market is still very weak. Factories that have a large percentage of production tied up in that market have seen quite a substantial drop in orders and in volume. Still, the North American market is seeing growth. While it may not be quite as robust as we saw in 2011, this market continues to be quite resilient. Europe is suffering more than a little bit; I would say they are suffering terribly.
SB: Industry feedback is that 2012 sales in Europe might be down by as much as 25-30%. Comments?
ML: We haven't seen declines of that extreme, but, then again, our exposure to Europe is very small. We see the market in Europe as a good long term strategy but in the short term we have limited our exposure to this market.