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U.S. Economy, Accessibility to Loans and Taxes Top Concerns in "2013 National Survey of Small-to-Medium Business Executives"

JOHNS CREEK, GA--(Marketwire - Mar 27, 2013) - Saia Inc. ( NASDAQ : SAIA ) today announced the findings from the "2013 National Survey of Small-to-Medium Business Executives," a nationwide survey of U.S. executives on their concerns and challenges related to economic conditions and the business environment. Small-to-medium businesses nationwide continue to be most concerned about the U.S. economy, yet show signs of cautious optimism. Close to half of respondents said the U.S. economy is slightly improving. Only seven percent thought the economy was strongly rebounding. Thirty-five percent of respondents from the "2011 Saia National Survey of Small to Medium-Sized Business Executives" thought it was improving either somewhat or strongly.

"Small to medium-sized businesses indicate they see some improvement in the economy, but continue to be wary of excess spending or hiring," said Sally Buchholz, Saia's vice president of customer service and marketing. "For companies that provide essential services to these businesses, as Saia does, the study's findings reinforce the importance of delivering what small businesses need reliably and affordably. Small businesses are critical to the economy by helping to provide local jobs as well as services and products to the country's largest corporations."

Biggest Business Challenges

Small-to-medium business executives nationwide believe the greatest challenge facing their business is the U.S. economy (59 percent), followed by the costs of running a business (33 percent) and changes to government regulation (19 percent). Only 16 percent of executives said increased healthcare costs were one of their greatest challenges.

While the U.S. economy is the lead concern, it is down from 65 percent from the 2011 survey.

Barriers to New Business

Nearly 50 percent believe that accessibility to loans is the largest barrier to entrepreneurs starting a new business. Close behind, at 35 percent, were taxes. The uncertainty of healthcare legislation ranked third.

Infrastructure and Roads

Seventy-six percent believe that the U.S. government should be concerned about the country's infrastructure and roads, but only 24 percent are concerned that the problems will affect their business.

Projections for 2013

When asked which quarter will be their strongest in 2013, 32 percent of executives said the third quarter. Thirty percent of respondents said that the fourth quarter would be. Second and first quarters were the strongest for 13 percent and 25 percent, respectively. Executives stated that in previous years the third and fourth quarters were their strongest as well.

Compared to 2012, business executives see the majority of increases in expenditures in the following areas:

  • Cost of goods (50 percent)
  • Fuel (39 percent)
  • Healthcare (35 percent)
  • Marketing (30 percent)
  • Technology (25 percent)

Budgets and Overhead

Forty-three percent reported spending more on business expenditures in 2012 compared to 2011. Respondents also stated they expect to spend more on goods, fuel and healthcare this year as opposed to last year.

Hiring only took place moderately in 2012; however, over 30 percent of executives said they plan on increasing the number of employees working at their companies this year. Still, the majority of respondents, 63 percent, said they would forgo hiring and continue to operate at their present staffing levels, which is consistent with 2011 findings.

Shipping Goods in a Hurry

Over 50 percent of those surveyed said that they are increasing their 2013 budget in comparison to 2012 when it comes to shipping goods via a guaranteed or expedited service option. Executives also said they plan on budgeting more for less-than-truckload moves, which typically deliver within one and two days. On-time delivery continues to be the carrier measurement respondents value the most at 84 percent. Exception-free delivery trailed handily at a distant second with close to 23 percent.

About Saia Inc.

Saia Inc. ( NASDAQ : SAIA ), with 2012 revenues in $1.1 billion, offers customers a wide range of less-than-truckload, non-asset truckload, and logistic services. The company operates 147 terminals in 34 states and is home to the industry-exclusive Customer Service Indicators and Xtreme Guarantee. With headquarters in Georgia, Saia employs 8,000 people nationwide. Saia LTL Freight has been recognized by the American Trucking Associations Safety Management Council with first place honors for its outstanding safety record. For more information on Saia Inc. or any of the service groups, visit www.saiacorp.com.

About the Survey
Conducted in January, the "2013 National Survey of Small to Medium Business Executives," sponsored by Saia Inc., is based on an online, nationwide survey of U.S. executives at small to medium-size businesses. Of the 739 participants, 27 percent are based in the South, 26 percent in the West, 25 percent in the Midwest and 21 percent in the Northeast. The survey's margin of error is plus or minus six percent. To learn more, visit www.saiacorp.com or call 404-840-3404.

More than half of respondents in the "2013 National Survey of Small to Medium Business Executives" are business owners, presidents or other executives in C-level positions. All participants in the survey are manager level or higher. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed work at a company with less than 25 employees, while the remainder of respondents work at organizations with between 26 and 500 employees.

Editor's Note
Camera-ready charts and graphs in .JPG format are available by contacting Jeannie S. Jump, Saia Corporate Communications Coordinator, at 770-232-4069 or via e-mail at jjump@saia.com.