Sponsored By

June 1, 2003

7 Min Read
Industry Watch

“We’re right where we wanted to be.”
Jordan Morgenstern,VP of Trade Shows, SPI

The pipes are calling

JORDAN MORGENSTERN could picture the bagpipers marching through McCormick’s Grand Concourse in full Scottish regalia, their songs echoing through the lofty hall. As IMM spoke with Morgenstern, the Society of the Plastics Industry’s (SPI) VP of trade shows, there was slightly more than one month left until SPI’s triennial plastics showcase, NPE, would begin, and Morgenstern continued to hammer out the huge show’s details.

A question tripped Morgenstern’s memory on one such detail: the bagpipe band composed of 20 Chicago police and firemen, who traditionally perform during the show’s opening ribbon cutting ceremony, marching and playing to mark the start of the week-long show.

“[The bagpipers] are something I have to order as a matter of fact,” Morgenstern says. “That’s so much fun to have them coming up those halls, and the echo.”

Morgenstern’s first NPE with SPI was in 1988. That year a jazz band replaced the bagpipers, but Morgenstern admits “the jazz band didn’t fit,” and SPI has stuck with bagpipers ever since. Compared to the business euphoria that preceded the last NPE, the relative doldrums leading up to this year’s show might make one think first of a house of blues instead of jazz, but Morgenstern says the overall sentiment within the industry is that business is improving, and that NPE 2003 could be remembered as the first step in a sustained turnaround for plastics manufacturing in the U.S.

“There’s so much going on in the world between the economy and all the other things,” Morgenstern explains, “but I think right now people seem to be more upbeat than they were a couple of weeks ago. The ending of the war helped, and although there are other things going on that could affect attendance, right now, everything seems pretty positive.”

With time still left for straggling exhibitors and the real push of attendee registration yet to begin, Morgenstern says NPE has signed on approximately 1900 exhibitors occupying about 1.022 million sq ft of space in McCormick.

“We’re right where we wanted to be,” Morgenstern explains, “in both the square feet and the number of exhibitors.”

Morgenstern says that if the machinery suppliers’ displays are any indication, NPE 2003 will be a success, and potentially a harbinger of better times to come for a beleaguered industry.

“Several of [the machinery manufacturers] are planning to bring a lot of machines and run them, based on what we’re getting from contractors and McCormick Place management for electrical orders and such,” Morgenstern explains. “I think that [represents] the general tone as people seem to be thinking that NPE 2003 will be a kick-start to the industry again.”

Manufacturing group makes inroads in DC

THE GRASS roots organization Save American Manufacturing (SAM) is making headway with policy makers on Capitol Hill thanks to recent and positive attention paid by the chairman for the House Committee on Small Business, and a recent meeting with the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade. But its work to educate legislators on the plight of American manufacturing continues.

SAM met in late April with Congressman Don Manzullo (R, IL), who serves as the chair on the House’s Small Business Committee. According to data compiled by that committee, 95 percent of manufacturing operations are in the small to medium-sized business category, aligning Manzullo’s interests as a legislator with those of SAM. During his April meeting with the group’s national board in Rockford, IL, Manzullo pointed out an opportunity in mid-May for SAM to potentially gain further leverage in Washington at a manufacturing roundtable organized by the Commerce Dept.

At the behest of the Bush administration, and announced formally at the National Manufacturing Week conference by Commerce Secretary Don Evans, an interagency task force has been formed to investigate the challenges faced by manufacturers through a series of roundtable discussions. It plans to then use these talks to help make policy recommendations. Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade Grant Aldonas served as the government’s representative at the roundtable, where SAM presented him with more than 1500 letters from its members in 14 states, describing their travails.

SAM National Coordinator Cyndi Petrucci says the opportunity to speak with Aldonas was a fortunate one made possible by Manzullo’s advice.

“[The roundtable] was a door that opened for us that we didn’t expect,” Petrucci says. “We didn’t know anything about that until [Manzullo] told us.”

Manzullo continues attempts to educate his fellow legislators on the issues through a series of full committee hearings in the current Congress. At the most recent hearing in April entitled, “Will we have an economic recovery without a strong U.S. manufacturing base?”, Manzullo and a panel of industry representatives and economic experts presented some disturbing numbers.

According to the report, from July 2000 through March 2003, 2.2 million manufacturing jobs, representing 12 percent of all manufacturing employment, had been lost. This marked 32 straight months of job contraction by the manufacturing sector, and it was creating what Manzullo described as a “nation of assemblers,” although he speculated that even that moniker may lose its relevance if the exodus continues.

Working with sympathetic legislators like Manzullo, SAM continues its efforts to capture the attention of an administration newly refocused on the economy. In the meantime as IMM spoke with Petrucci, she said SAM was trying to plan an NPE presence in a donated booth. For more information on events or to join, visit SAM’s website at www.samnow.org.

BASF, Honeywell business swap now complete

ENHANCING ITS stature as a global supplier of engineering plastics and marking an exit from the fibers business, BASF Aktiengesellschaft (Ludwigshafen, Germany) received regulatory approval and recently finalized a deal with Honeywell International (Morris Township, NJ) to swap its nylon fibers business for Honeywell’s engineering plastics.

BASF’s Plastics & Fibers Div. will now be known as the Plastics Div. The move will enhance BASF’s position in nylon 6 and polyester materials, and Honeywell becomes bigger in fibers. As part of the deal, BASF receives manufacturing facilities, research and development assets, and sales and technical support from Honeywell. Approximately 500 Honeywell personnel will join BASF.

BASF says Honeywell’s engineering plastics unit, with pro forma 2002 sales of $380 million, will increase BASF’s presence within the automotive, packaging, and electrical and electronics markets. Combined 2002 sales of the business units were approximately $2.2 billion.

Short shots

in its preliminary data on 2002 shipments and dollar values for plastics machinery and equipment, the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI, Washington DC) Committee on Equipment Statistics offered a tentative prediction that the market may have bottomed out in 2001 and that 2002 shows the very humble beginnings of a possible recovery overall.

Shipments for all sectors were up slightly—2.5 percent—from 2001 to 2002, but molding showed a 1.4 percent decrease in units and a .26 percent rise in dollar value. However, fourth quarter shipments for all equipment sectors increased 23 percent in value from Q4 2001 to Q4 2002, reflecting a positive trend, even though Q4 2001 reflected the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

In a move to streamline its injection molding operations, Alcoa Home Exteriors Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA) announced that it was consolidating its injection molding operation in Richwood, KY into its Gaffney, SC plant. There, the company will mold shutters, gable vents, fixture mounts, and other exterior housing components.

Building on what it called a successful introduction into the North American market through its Canadian expansion, Negri Bossi announced the opening of Negri Bossi USA Inc. (Newark, DE). The branch features a showroom to display presses ranging from 45 to 1750 tons.

Sporting a five-year growth rate of 141 percent, Empire Precision Plastics Inc. (Rochester, NY) was named to the Inner City 100—a list of the fastest-growing privately held companies located in urban cores. Empire operates 25 presses, and the company also has a MuCell license.

Supplying sensors that measure pressure, torque, load, temperature, force, acceleration, and displacement, Sensotec Inc. (Columbus, OH) was acquired in a complementary move by Honeywell International’s (Morris Township, NJ) Automation & Control Solutions Unit.

Creating more space for part inventory and products, Tecnomagnete Inc. (Troy, MI) announced new 10,000-sq-ft headquarters in Sterling Heights, MI.

Sign up for the PlasticsToday NewsFeed newsletter.

You May Also Like