John Costanzo, president of Purolator International, speaks at a Long...

John Costanzo, president of Purolator International, speaks at a Long Island Association meeting on local manufacturers' exports on Tuesday in Melville. Credit: Howard Schnapp

More than half of Long Island manufacturers sell their products overseas and Asia is their top foreign market, according to a survey released Tuesday.

In a poll conducted from Dec. 11 through March 25, 53 percent of local factory executives said exporting is part of their business. That’s an increase of 18 percentage points from a similar poll conducted in 2017.

The polls are the basis of the Purolator International Long Island Supply Chain Index, which debuted in 2016 and was the subject of Tuesday's event at the Long Island Association business group in Melville.

In the most recent poll of 106 manufacturing executives, 47 percent said their sole market is in the United States. And among those who export, a majority said foreign sales are less than 10 percent of their company’s yearly revenue. 

Exporting activity “is a significant area to the future health of the Long Island economy,” said Purolator International president John T. Costanzo, who conceived the index.

He said 35 percent of the exporters surveyed said they expect to sell more overseas in the next six months to one year “and that is reflective of the global economy that we all operate in.”

Costanzo, along with four manufacturing executives who participated in a panel discussion about the supply-chain index results at Tuesday's event, expressed surprise that Asia, not Canada, appears to be Long Island’s top export market.

Gregory Penza, CEO of ULC Robotics Inc., Frank Langro, product...

Gregory Penza, CEO of ULC Robotics Inc., Frank Langro, product market management director for Festo North America, Kursad "Kevin" Devecioglu, managing director of Bimser International Corp. and Mike Attar, CIO of Future Tech Enterprise Inc. at the LIA meeting on Tuesday, April 30, 2019 in Melville. Credit: Howard Schnapp

In the poll, 41 percent of  manufacturing officials said Asia was “the most common region” for their exports, up from 28 percent in the 2017 poll. Canada was No. 2 with 34 percent, followed by Europe, 30 percent, and Mexico and South America, each 25 percent. For decades, Canada had been the top foreign destination for Long Island exports.

Kursad “Kevin” Devecioglu, managing director in the Hauppauge office of Bimser International Corp., said there is high demand for his company’s software in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia as manufacturers there strive to become more efficient and comply with U.S. and European standards governing imported goods.

Frank Langro, a product management director at the U.S. headquarters of German automation-equipment supplier Festo Corp. in Islandia, said the Trump administration’s higher import taxes, or tariffs, on foreign steel and aluminum have increased production costs, which must be passed along to customers. The higher tariffs were imposed last spring.

“The biggest impact has been to raw material costs both for ourselves, as a German company bringing aluminum and steel into the U.S., and also our customers, because even if they have been sourcing domestically, they have seen the prices of those materials increasing,” Langro said.

The index results also show local manufacturers are more optimistic about Long Island’s immediate economic future than at any time since 2016. Sixty-four percent of poll respondents predicted increased sales in the next six months and 66 percent had hired people in the past year.

Panelists Mike Attar, chief information officer of information technology provider Future Tech Enterprises Inc. in Holbrook, and Gregory Penza, CEO of ULC Robotics Inc. in Hauppauge, both said they are upbeat about the future.

“Our business is very, very strong,” said Penza, adding his robotics firm primarily sells to energy companies in the United States and Europe.

The index poll, conducted by Ohio State University and analyzed by Stony Brook University, has a margin of error of plus or minus 9.5 percentage points.

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