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Learning to love lists

Making a list of equipment suppliers should be a simple and straightforward proposition, no? We wish it were so. Every magazine and association in the business publishes some form of list or directory, each with its particular strengths. We make no attempt to duplicate any of them, but rather to present lists in simple, compact formats that identify a few categories of machinery on each list and provide multiple forms of contact information. Our Buyer's Guide topics for all of 2003 are listed on our editorial calendar. In addition, we occasionally do less formal lists to accompany feature articles.

So what are some glitches in listmaking? In the first place, we compile lists for a North American audience. This is not an exhibit of American jingoism, just a reflection of our current circulation. Many of the suppliers on our lists are European or Asian, but they have established a North American presence, whether by setting up an office, mounting a show exhibit, creating editorial or advertising presence (in any industry publication, not just ours), or recently installing equipment. Any plausible demonstration of an ongoing presence in North America is enough for us.

We don't mean to be making excuses, but there are good reasons why perfection in lists is elusive. The following examples are real, but the identities of the companies involved are not revealed, to protect the innocent, or the guilty as it may be.

In a case involving a supplier of robotic equipment, we initially did not include the company, as we were unaware that it had established a U.S. office. To remedy matters, we published the listing in a subsequent issue. By the time that issue came out, the U.S. office had been closed. If it was still actively marketing into North America, we could continue to include them in our list, but in any case all of the original contact information was obsolete.

In a second case, this one involving injection molding machines, we included a listing of a well-known company, but did not include it as producing a particular category of machine. It later came to light that the company did in fact produce machines in that category. However, it did so only under specific demand from customers. The company did not want to be in the business of producing that kind of machine, and did not want to be so listed!

In a third case, a company name change threw us for a loop. The original name(s) were well known, but the new name was less familiar.

Our lists are not dead once published. We repeat Buyer's Guide topics, generally on an annual basis. We also update our lists on our website. Additions, corrections, modifications, or deletions can be made there. Our Buyer's Guide list for this issue is posted here. It identifies suppliers of dryers, hoppers, and loaders. An additional list of suppliers of hydraulic-powered injection machines is posted here.

We welcome your participation in our listmaking. If you have any information that would make our lists more accurate or complete, I would welcome hearing from you. Thank you in advance for your help.

Merle R. Snyder
Plastics Auxiliaries & Machinery

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