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Good business decisions must look forward

Article-Good business decisions must look forward

Persistence with rational, not emotional, thinking takes the stage.

Persistence with rational, not emotional, thinking takes the stage.

Please allow me to clarify what I wrote in this space last month. I said that since I moved back to the United States more than three years ago, I’d noticed an attitude of passivity and helplessness in many of my fellow Americans. I was thinking of the reaction, or lack of it, to the American economic and political problems that dominate the news. Many citizens believe they are powerless to fix them.

What I didn’t make clear is that I virtually never find that mindset among people in our plastics industry, especially among molders and moldmakers, but also among suppliers. On the contrary, during recent discussions with processors, toolmakers, and suppliers to the industry, I’ve heard solid determination and a commitment to moving forward. Plastics people are introducing new products and services, and finding specific ways to help their customers deal with and recover from the Great Recession.

Early in 2009, plastics industry analysts said that up to 15% of U.S. plastics processors working on Jan. 1 would be gone by Dec. 31, whether by merger or closure. The analysts now say the fallout is far less. You’ll have a tough time convincing me that’s not a direct result of the positive can-do attitude that lets our people make the tough business decisions needed to benefit from times like these.

No doubt you’ve heard of a tough business decision SPI made recently regarding NPE2012 and 2015. It’s been interesting to hear the reaction to the announcement that the next two NPE shows would take place in Orlando, FL, and not in Chicago, where the show has deployed since 1971. There’s emotion involved, for sure. It’s a break with a long tradition. Ultimately, however, the decision must be based much more on current and future needs than on the past.

SPI, The Plastics Industry Trade Assn. that owns and manages NPE, did its homework, resulting in a detailed and coherent business rationale for the decision. As you no doubt have heard, it’s about cost—Chicago is too expensive. But it’s not all about cost. For one thing, it’s about giving customers what they want and need, and SPI has two distinct sets of customers to make happy: exhibitors and show visitors.

Owing to Chicago’s costs, exhibitors said they had to bring less machinery and other tech—or not come at all. I’ve personally heard top execs of global suppliers say NPE costs were up to 50% higher than other big plastics shows. They were not smiling at the time.

Attendee costs also are higher in Chicago than they will be in Orlando, but there is a bigger issue on this side. When SPI surveyed visitors on why they come to NPE, by far the top answer was technology, which generally means running machinery—exactly what exhibitors said they would have to cut back in Chicago.

SPI is lowering exhibitor costs so visitors will find more of the technology they want to see and touch at NPE2012 in Orlando. Much as I like Chicago, a truly great city, this move appears to be a sound business decision.

We hope that 2010 is filled with the fruits of your good choices and wish you a very happy holiday season.

Rob Neilley
Editor in Chief
[email protected]

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