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Greenville Business Magazine

The Business Narrative: The CFO Survey

Oct 05, 2022 11:29AM ● By David Dykes

CFOs See Higher Costs and Lack of Skilled Labor; Reduce Outlook for Growth

Financial decision-makers lowered their expectations for real growth in gross domestic product during the third quarter amid concerns over inflation and trouble finding skilled labor, according to the results of The CFO Survey, a collaboration of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the Federal Reserve Banks of Richmond and Atlanta.

At the same time, CFOs said their optimism about the overall economy rose modestly from its recent low. Optimism about their own firms, though well below levels from a year ago, remained steady alongside some improvement in expectations for revenue, employment and cost growth.

CFOs said inflation was the most pressing concern facing their firms. Firms revised unit cost growth during 2022 down to 8.9 percent from 10.2 percent in the prior survey. These costs remain at elevated levels, and nearly all firms reported experiencing larger-than-normal cost increases.

“The share of firms with abnormally large increases in the majority of their costs doubled since the second quarter of last year, from 26 percent to more than 52 percent,” said Atlanta Fed economist Brent Meyer. “More than 80 percent of firms expect cost pressures to persist into next year, and around a third expect these pressures to last longer than a year.

“It’s not surprising to see real GDP growth expectations decrease in a time of heightened uncertainty when supply issues are persistent.”

Compared to the last survey, fewer respondents said they planned to invest in structures or equipment over the next six months, with most saying they had ample capacity.

In addition, the share of CFOs noting unfavorable financing conditions doubled to 15 percent, and the share citing a need to preserve cash increased 10 percentage points to 38 percent.

CFOs said they anticipate continuing to hire at a moderate pace, despite concerns about labor quality and availability. They also noted particular difficulty hiring and retaining high-skilled workers.

Roughly one-fourth of respondents expect hiring conditions to become more difficult by the end of 2022, compared to only one-tenth of respondents who expect hiring conditions to ease.

The CFO Survey is issued by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the Federal Reserve Banks of Richmond and Atlanta. The latest survey, as well as historical data and commentary, can be found at

Ingevity Completes Acquisition of Leading Pavement Marking Materials Business, Ozark Materials

North Charleston-based Ingevity Corporation (NYSE:NGVT) said it has completed its previously disclosed acquisition of privately-owned Ozark Materials in an all-cash transaction valued at $325 million.

Ingevity said it expects the acquisition to be immediately accretive to Ingevity’s earnings per share. The business will be included in Ingevity’s Performance Chemicals segment.

Ozark Materials is a leading producer of pavement marking materials, including thermoplastic pavement markings, waterborne traffic paints and preformed thermoplastics.

The company supplies specialty materials for roadway applications throughout the United States and Canada, for a customer base that includes state departments of transportation, civil and highway contractors, cities, universities and airports.

Included in the acquisition is Ozark Logistics, which provides transportation support primarily for the materials business.

Ozark Materials is headquartered in Greenville, Ala., and operates through four manufacturing locations, a logistics office and a distribution center.

“Ozark Materials is a strong, market-leading business that strengthens our position in the paving construction industry, while moving us one step downstream where we can better serve our end customers,” said John Fortson, Ingevity president and CEO.

“As a leading player within the pavement marking materials industry, Ozark is an excellent fit with Ingevity’s business model and capabilities.”

Boysen USA Establishing Operations in Spartanburg County

Boysen USA, a subsidiary of the German-based Boysen Group, announced plans to expand its South Carolina presence with a new operation in Spartanburg County.

The company’s $4.5 million investment will create 88 jobs, according to the South Carolina Department of Commerce.

A specialist in automotive exhaust technology, Boysen USA develops and manufactures exhaust manifolds, catalytic converters, particulate traps, silencers and complete exhaust systems for leading original equipment manufacturers.

The company’s main customers include the German carmakers Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche and VW, as well as the British marques Bentley and Rolls-Royce.

Located at 404 Centura Court, Boysen USA’s new operation will accommodate additional manufacturing capacity to meet increased demand, Commerce officials said.

The company also operates another South Carolina facility in Cherokee County.

Operations are currently online. Those interested in joining Boysen USA should go to the company’s careers page.

The state’s Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved job development credits related to the project.

87 Percent of Surveyed Hotels Report Staffing Shortages

Nearly all hotels are experiencing staffing shortages, according to a new member survey conducted by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA).

Eighty-seven percent (87 percent) of survey respondents indicated they are experiencing a staffing shortage, 36 percent severely so. The most critical staffing need is housekeeping, with 43 percent ranking it as their biggest challenge.

Those numbers are slightly better than in May, when 97 percent of respondents to an AHLA member survey said they were short staffed, 49 percent severely so, with 58 percent ranking housekeeping as their biggest challenge.

Hotels are offering potential hires a host of incentives to fill vacancies — 81 percent have increased wages, 64 percent are offering greater flexibility with hours, and 35 percent have expanded benefits — but 91 percent say they are still unable to fill open positions.

Respondents are trying to fill an average of 10.3 positions per property, down from 12 vacancies in May. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of August, hotel employment was down by nearly 400,000 jobs compared to February 2020. Hotels are looking to fill many of the jobs lost during the pandemic, including more than 115,000 hotel jobs currently open across the nation.

The staffing challenges are resulting in historic career opportunities for hotel employees. National average hotel wages for 2022 through June are more than $22 per hour — higher than any other year on record, according to the AHLA.

It said that since the pandemic, average hotel wages have increased faster than average wages throughout the general economy. And hotel benefits and flexibility are better than ever, AHLA officials said.

To help hotels fill open jobs and raise awareness of the hotel industry’s 200+ career pathways, the AHLA Foundation’s “A Place to Stay” multi-channel advertising campaign is active in 14 cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego, and Tampa.

For more info on the campaign, go to

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