CEO Outlook 2016: 15 CEOs Open Up About Next Year’s Growth Prospects

1 Andra Rush

ANDRA RUSH, Founder and CEO, Rush Group

THE COMPANY, HEADQUARTERED IN DETROIT, IS A $1.5 BILLION PROVIDER OF TRANSPORTATION, LOGISTICS AND COMPONENTS TO AUTO COMPANIES.

I foresee nothing but a positive upside. There is tremendous growth in the auto industry still. The economy is sputtering, but gaining. We’ve benefited from fast growth in the auto industry.
We have also gained from the big drop in gasoline and diesel prices, plus the oil-price decline has benefited vehicles for which we manufacture parts.

The slight bubbles in China have been exposed, but we’ve managed through it, and I don’t think that’s ultimately going to impact U.S. consumer confidence.

But for business and the U.S. in general, there is a big imbalance in the lack of manufacturing talent and skilled trades throughout the country. It’s to the point where the average age of a truck driver is 61, and the average age of a manufacturing worker is 56. By 2025, we’ll have a 2.5-million-person gap if it’s not addressed, and that’s a concern in every industry.


1 Susan Salka

SUSAN SALKA, CEO, AMN Healthcare Services

HEADQUARTERED IN SAN DIEGO, THE $1-BILLION COMPANY IS AMERICA’S LARGEST PROVIDER OF HEALTHCARE-STAFFING SERVICES.

The Affordable Care Act will continue to add more patients to the system. And the general population is getting older, which means they’ll be utilizing more healthcare services. Add to that the general perception that the economy is improving and relatively stable, which means people have more money in their pocket to pay co-pays and for elective services.

There’s also massive consolidation across the healthcare industry. I see this transformation continuing, which creates opportunities for us to continue to deliver new and innovative services to help clients manage their workforces in effective ways.

The problem is that we don’t have enough clinicians to keep up with the growing number of jobs. That will be a challenge not just next year but for the next several years. An additional layer is that the population of clinicians is aging as well; currently, the typical retirement age for nurses is the early 50s, and not enough new ones are coming in.


1 Brent Shafer

BRENT SHAFER, CEO, Philips North America

THE U.S. ARM OF THE 21-BILLION-EURO NETHERLANDS-BASED PROVIDER OF ELECTRONIC GOODS AND SERVICES IS HEADQUARTERED IN ANDOVER, MASSACHUSETTS.

We’re combining our consumer and healthcare businesses in North America into a joint portfolio, based on the changes we see around how healthcare and wellness are being approached. We see large healthcare customers—integrated delivery networks—trying to structure themselves along these lines, so this creates a great opportunity.

The economy looks to have a stable and improving outlook for the businesses we serve. And what can’t be missed is the aging population in North America and, with that, increased need for healthcare technology and services—which create new opportunities for new innovations and solutions.

We announced this year a $500 million, 15-year contract with the Westchester [New York] Medical Center, for instance. We’re concerned about the outcome of the elections and the healthcare issue, such as the Republican candidates’ stands on the Affordable Care Act. Any major policy change could create a big ripple effect and create changes in the markets we serve.


1 Avi Steinlauf

AVI STEINLAUF, CEO, Edmunds.com

THIS PRIVATELY HELD, MID-MARKET COMPANY IS A LEADING ONLINE AUTOMOTIVE-INFORMATION PORTAL HEADQUARTERED IN SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA.

We are a pretty good barometer of where the car market is, and we just had 20 million shoppers coming to our site in a month, which is an all-time high. That’s a reflection of where the category is and where we are as well.

The fundamentals of our market continue to be strong. Low gasoline prices work to spur the good old internal-combustion engine, where the technology has gotten better and better. Also, credit continues to be readily available; interest rates are still at historic lows. And production is in line with demand; incentives haven’t gone crazy.

Overall, I’m concerned about any black swans in the overall economy. But our biggest challenge comes down to execution: We’ve got a lot on our plate, and it’s ours to lose. We need to take the share and the market that we believe we can achieve. Our biggest obstacle is hiring all the people we need to execute our plans.


1 Steve Tanger

STEVE TANGER, CEO, Tanger Factory Outlet Centers

OPERATOR OF 47 SHOPPING CENTERS ACROSS THE U.S. AND CANADA, THIS GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA-BASED REIT HAD 2014 REVENUES OF $419 MILLION.

We just completed a significant growth spurt that increased the size of our footprint by 7% in 2014 and 10% in 2015, and we’re building our 48th shopping center. Now we plan to build another one or two new centers in each of the next two to three years.

But we don’t see the robust demand out there to continue to grow at 10% a year, because consumers are being cautious. We want to see how they react in an environment of increasing interest rates.

You’re starting to see some small wage increases, which is good for the economy. I see continued GDP growth of 2 percent to 2.5% as reasonable and consistent. We’re not overly concerned about the growth of e-commerce. We’ve learned to offer the consumer what they love: the experience of going into stores and touching items and putting them on.


1 Alex Zozaya

ALEX ZOZAYA, CEO, Apple Leisure Group

CREATED IN 2013 BY BAIN CAPITAL, THE $3-BILLION GROUP BASED IN NEWTOWN SQUARE, PENNSYLVANIA, INCLUDES APPLE VACATIONS, AMRESORTS AND OTHERS.

WE SEE A VERY STRONG 2016 in our space, particularly tourists coming from the U.S. to our region, which is the Caribbean and Mexico. More Americans are traveling out of the country for the first time, and these trips are more a part of life rather than unique, like a honeymoon.

Plus, luxury spending is up in general, and our hotels are mainly five-star. Also, the lower price of fuel is helping prices overall. We’ll open about 10 new hotels in 2016. We’re growing in bookings by about 30% over 2015 levels, so we see enough new demand. We also have more Europeans coming to our hotels, looking for new beaches because of the unrest and migration in north and eastern Africa.

But there is tremendous competition in the United States: Cruise lines are growing and doing a better job of putting bigger, cheaper, better ships in the water.


1 David Zuchowski

DAVID ZUCHOWSKI, President and CEO, Hyundai Motor America

HEADQUARTERED IN FOUNTAIN VALLEY, CALIFORNIA, THE COMPANY IS THE U.S. ARM OF THE $84.7 BILLION HYUNDAI CHAEBOL HEADQUARTERED IN SEOUL.

This is a product business, so we feel great: We’ve got a bunch of new products coming out over the next 12 months, including in the SUV category where we’ve lacked enough products in the past. We’ve been mostly a sedan company.

Overall, you have to be bullish on the economy. Look at the macro indicators: oil prices, jobs, Fed actions, housing—they’re all very stable and going in the right direction. And so much of what
drives the economy is related to the automotive business.

There are two big uncertainties. One is the timing of the Fed’s interest-rate actions, which is dictated by global activity more than anything else. They affect our business a lot in terms of affordability, and manufacturers and dealers don’t have a lot of capability to offset the increased costs of funds. Also, the troubles in China, Brazil, Russia and Europe all are coming at the same time.