Oh say, can you see the NPE space draw?

By: 
February 20, 2014

The sound was faint but unmistakeable: Jimi Hendrix's version of the "Star Spangled Banner" wafted through the ballroom to rally NPE 2015 exhibitors to their seats. The space draw for NPE 2015 had officially begun at the Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, FL.

Following a short welcome speech by SPI Senior Vice President Gene Sanders, William Carteaux, CEO and President, discussed current and future prospects for the plastics industry. Much of the content of the speech was pulled from an SPI business report published earlier this year, but the findings bear repeating. If the forecasts hold, NPE 2015 has the potential to be a celebratory event.

All of the economists we have spoken with affirm that real GDP growth will continue in the United States into 2015, Carteaux told several hundred people assembled in the hotel's Penzacola ballroom. The manufacturing index has remained above 50% since 2010, something that has eluded the rest of the world, he said. And plastics in all of that?

The third largest industry in the country, the plastics sector recorded a 2.7% increase in exports in 2013 over 2012. While imports were also on the upswing, the plastics sector ended up contributing a $13.9 billion trade surplus to the national economy, said Carteaux.

Domestic consumption of plastic products took a real hit in the recession, but the good news, said Carteaux, is that we are on track to reach prerecession levels of demand by the end of 2014 or early 2015. Consumption grew 5.7% for $237.6 billion in 2012 to $251 billion in 2013.

Carteaux also mentioned some recent surveys and business reports touting reshoring as a sustainable trend. In particular, he cited a survey by the Boston Consulting Group, which reported that more than half of U.S.-based manufacturing executives at companies with sales greater than $1 billion were planning to bring back production from China to the United States or were actively considering it.

Several factors are favoring the reshoring trend, but the economic impact of shale energy is key. "Shale gas production has risen 440% between 2007 and 2012," Carteaux noted. This is having a significant impact on the plastics industry, which is second only to steel in reaping the economic rewards, he added.

By 2020, shale energy will create more than 3.3 million jobs, add $469 billion to national GDP, and produce a $3500 dividend per U.S. household, Carteaux said. And by 2022, "one-third of thermoplastic resins produced in the United States will be exported," he added.

At that point, in keeping with the opening jam, I was expecting someone to fire up "Feelin' Alright." Maybe next time?

NPE 2015 will convene in Orlando, FL, on March 23 to 27, 2015. For more information, go to the NPE2015 website.

Norbert Sparrow

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