For Rick Plympton, there’s no going back to the pre-pandemic economy. The CEO of precision-lens maker Optimax Systems sees "shifting sands” in many aspects of his business.

It’s tough to find enough workers, prices of key inputs are more volatile and there are longer lags between ordering equipment and having it show up on the Ontario, New York, firm’s shop floor. There’s also strengthened support in Washington for the U.S. chipmaking industry — which uses Optimax lenses — as politicians take in an altered geopolitical landscape.

Many of these changes aren’t temporary, in Plympton’s view. Tight labor markets "are going to be with us for decades,” he says.