The Gardner Business Index

The Gardner Business Index (GBI) is a diffusion index measuring month-to-month changes in activity at durable goods and discrete parts manufacturing facilities.

How is the index created?

Each month manufacturing facilities are asked if their

  • New orders
  • Production
  • Backlog
  • Employment
  • Exports
  • Supplier deliveries
  • Material prices
  • Prices received
  • Future business expectations

are up, down, or the same from the previous month.

A diffusion index is created for each of the above questions. The total index is an average of the first six sub-indices in the list above.

In addition to the nine questions above, each facility is asked how much they will spend on capital equipment in the next 12 months. (This question was changed in October 2016 to allow respondents to specifically indicate they would spend $0 on capital equipment in the next 12 months. This was not an option prior to October 2016.) We report the results as the average spending per plant. An individual facility’s planned spending is never shared.

Who is surveyed?

Gardner Business Media (GBM) produces a variety of media and events related to durable goods and discrete parts manufacturing (go here for a list of brands). The primary focus of the media and events is parts made of metal, plastic, and composite materials.

GBM’s magazines reach more than 100,000 durable goods and discrete parts manufacturing facilities every month. Of those 100,000 facilities, more than 50,000 facilities are surveyed every month. Each month, the GBI averages about 600 responses.

When does the survey get sent out?

The survey is sent out the second-to-last and last Tuesday of every month. Approximately half of the responses are received by the Friday after the second-to-last Tuesday of the month.

What makes the GBI unique?

Most other diffusion indices focus on large companies, which we define as a facility with more than 250 employees, because they are used to forecast GDP and other large macroeconomic measures. This works because a significant percent of manufacturing production occurs in these large facilities. However, there is a still a great deal of activity in smaller manufacturing facilities that is extremely important to any company selling equipment, materials, or other supplies to durable goods and discrete parts manufacturers.

For example, plants with 250 or more employees buy about $2.0-2.5 billion of machine tools every year. But, facilities with fewer than 20 employees buy about $1.0-1.5 billion of machine tools every year. So, the smallest facilities spend about 60 percent of the total of the largest facilities. But, there are just 5,000 metalworking facilities with more than 250 employees and more than 35,000 metalworking facilities with fewer than 20 employees.

How is the data reported?

Each facility that responds to the survey has associated with it four pieces of firmographic data:

  • Process (e.g. metalworking, plastics processing)
  • Industry (e.g. aerospace, medical)
  • Region (e.g. West, Southeast)
  • Plant Size (e.g. 1-19 employees, 20-49 employees)

Each facility can be in only one industry, region, and plant size. However, facility responses can count in more than one process based on our knowledge of what that facility does.

For every combination of process, industry, region, and plant size, we report all the data in “How is the index created?” above. In addition, we report the number of facilities that respond in each unique combination of process, industry, region, and plant size.

Each subscription includes monthly updates with the latest data. In addition, subscribers also receive access to our historical data since 2011.

Access to the Data

GBI data can be accessed by an annual subscription at one of three levels.

Level 1

$5,000

This level provides access to the overall GBI, which is calculated at the All level for process, industry, region, and plant sizes, as well as each process at the All level of industry, region, and plant size. Processes reported include composites fabricating, finishing, metalworking, moldmaking, precision machining, and plastics processing.

On the first of the month, data will be available for the prior month.

Level 2

$10,000

This level provides access to the overall GBI, which is calculated at the All level for every process, as well as the data for every unique combination of process, industry, region, and plant size.

On the first of the month, data will be available for the prior month.

Level 3

$20,000

This level provides the same data as Level 2, but a Level 3 subscription provides an early look at the month’s results.

The first survey goes out the second-to-last Tuesday of the month. By the end of that week, we have approximately half of the responses for the month. These 300 responses provide a good early look at what the index will be for the month.

The sneak peek of the data will be available the last Monday of the month, just five business days after the first survey goes out.

Then, on the first of the month, the full data will be available for the prior month.

Download Excel sample data Click to download our sample data structure and see an example of our subscription products.

To purchase a subscription, call 513-527-8000 and ask for Steve Kline Jr.
Or, use the email form below.

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