CEOs Talk About Their 2015 Outlook

As they head into 2015, U.S.-based CEOs wonder if the economic glass is half-empty or half-full both in the United States and around the world. And for the first time since the Great Recession, their collective expectations for the New Year tip toward steady growth and a smoother path for doing business despite lingering questions about the strength of economic recovery.

Eduardo-CosentinoBullish On Housing Opportunity
Eduardo Cosentino, CEO, Cosentino North America

We’re continuing distribution and sales expansion in North America with a new product, called Dekton, which has more decorating capabilities than our well-known Silestone. We also are adding sales and service centers, with 27 now and estimating that we’ll have 34 open by the end of 2015. We expect to grow around 20 percent in the U.S. in 2015, faster than market growth, so we’ll pick up [market] share.

Housing remains full of growth opportunities in most parts of North America. We expect it will grow faster in the coming years, and we [plan to] tap into that both in the remodeling market and in new-home construction.

Our first market is the U.S. and our second is Europe. We have suffered in some countries in Europe during the last two years. But trends were changing markedly in 2014 because the economy is recovering, and we’re growing at a good level in Europe now.

With growth, however, one of our biggest issues is finding and developing the right professionals to staff our centers. Turnover of employees will be a challenge in coming years, too. With North American headquarters in Houston, the Almera, Spain-based company makes architectural surfaces and has global revenue of more than $450 million.

Roger-CrandallCan Middle Americans Afford Retirement?
Roger Crandall, CEO, MassMutual

The insurance industry has been going sideways partly because the industry is missing distribution opportunities. But sales of our core product, whole life insurance, were up 18 percent through the first half of the year because we’ve been investing in distribution, in career agents who are licensed to sell our products. We’ve been far exceeding industry growth rates and will continue to do so in 2015.

However, the unfortunate reality is that American consumers aren’t doing all that well. The recovery in real estate and equity markets has benefited wealthy Americans but not Middle America. So, there is general financial unpreparedness by Americans for retirement—less than $25,000 in savings, on average. That’s a little bit scary. We’re starting to see glimmers of recovery in the U.S. economy, and I’m optimistic that, next year, it’ll perform best of the major economies. But the challenge is there’s not enough growth to make a dent in the under-employment problem. And day-to-day headlines are problematic—from the cost of health care to the biggest international uncertainty we’ve seen since the Cold War.

I’m optimistic that the U.S. economy will perform best of the major economies, particularly compared with Japan and Western Europe.

Headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts, the company is a leading mutual life insurer, with revenues of $27.6 billion in 2013.

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