Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Audio – Bad is bad

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Trying to compare one recession or economic downswing to another is a little like trying to decide which hurricane was the worst.

I mean, if you were sitting in the middle of Hurricane Katrina, it’s not going to matter too much if Hurricane Hugo’s winds were 10 miles an hour faster. They both weren’t a lot of fun.

So it was on Tuesday when Doug Parker, chief executive of US Airways Group, tried to distinguish between the current recession and previous ones. No one wants to be too close to the eye when the howling starts.

Parker, speaking to the Reuters Travel and Leisure Summit in New York, said this slowdown is bad — as was the one in 2001-2002, although for diferent reasons.

AUDIO – The Spiral

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This has not been a cheerless week — after all, Chicago is a pretty fun place to be.

In reviewing many of the stories, though, from this week’s Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit, one gets the idea that all was gloom in the Windy City.

AUDIO – For Nordson — “Get ‘em right, or get ‘em out”

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Throughout the current recession, many of the companies’ executives at this week’s Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit have found an opportunity to review, pare back and possibly add on to their existing business mixes.

Such is the case for Edward Campbell, chief executive of Nordson Corp, which has a uniquely diversified set of businesses under its umbrella and is looking at what makes sense for them going forward.

AUDIO – Staying the course at CAT — But it’s a rough row to hoe

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Caterpillar Inc Group President Ed Rapp knows that 2009 has been a tough one for his company, but he still thinks they can hit their numbers on revenue and earnings per share.

Speaking at the Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit, Rapp (who, incidentally, has been with Caterpillar for almost 30 years and is still considered something of a “youngster” there!!) said that while there are still many hurdles for the company to avoid in the short term, he thought CAT’s previous guidance was within reach.

AUDIO – What’s going on with the economy? Ask a trucker.

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That was the advice from truck manufacturer Navistar International Corp’s CEO Dan Ustian at this week’s Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit in Chicago.

Ustian said the current slowdown has been worse and deeper than expected — even though the trucking industry had a sense that things were starting to go south as far back as 2007.

AUDIO-Looking for a bottom? Keep looking…

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The U.S. is more than a year into the current recession, but things are still looking nasty. At least that’s what Bill Zollars, chief executive of trucking company YRC, believes.

The trucking industry has been in pain since late 2006, due in part to the flagging auto and housing industries. It could also be expected that the sector should see a pick-up before the broader economy, but the environment has remained difficult, Zollars said at the annual Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit held in Chicago.

AUDIO – More money, more money, more money…

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The U.S. government is spending a LOT of money these days.

We generally don’t go for the all-CAPS version of words, but in this case, it seemed appropriate. Every day we’re seeing new multibillion-dollar programs being rolled out of Washington, D.C. for everything from bank bailouts to auto companies programs.

But, according to Wick Moorman, chief executive of Norfolk Southern Corp, much more infrastructure spending still needs to be done for the nation’s railroads.

Video – Building for the future

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The U.S. is expected to spend an extra $28 billion to upgrade the nation’s bridges and roads and one manufacturer is hopeful some of those dollars will flow their way.

Ruben Ramirez, Reuters, Rock Hill, South Carolina.

SOUNDBITES: Garth McGillewie, Director, Terex Hydra Platforms Steve Hueser, Director, Terex Rock Hill MORE INFO: The latest report card on the nation’s bridges and roads gives them a “D.” The latest U.S. economic stimulus plan includes billions of dollars for upgrading the country’s infrastructure and one manufacturer is hopeful some of those dollars will flow their way. 

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