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More (and better) news from the road

Article-More (and better) news from the road

But rising from the bottom is not a spectator sport.

But rising from the bottom is not a spectator sport.

In last month’s IMM I noted that I needed to get out more, meaning out with you and others in our industry to get a clearer picture of what’s going on. Somewhat surprisingly, I actually followed my own good advice. Twice.

One stop was at the Fakuma 2009 trade fair in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Like NPE 2009 this past June, Fakuma opened with many exhibitors nervously wondering what impact the becalmed global economy would have on the show, or more precisely, how much of an impact there would be.

Like NPE, Fakuma attracted fewer visitors—37,000 vs. 40,000—and fewer exhibitors—more than 1500 vs. 1700—than it did in its previous edition (2008). However, the aisles were almost always alive with foot traffic, and this year’s exhibitors with whom we spoke were pleased with their overall results from the show, again much like NPE2009. The two shows also shared a similar atmosphere of guarded optimism and acceptance that the recovery would come slowly and that our industry’s future would not be like its past.

The following week I was in Fitchburg, MA for the MassPlastics 2009 trade show. It, too, had fewer exhibitors and fewer attendees than the previous year, but also not by much. The general atmosphere was like the others as well—optimistic that the bottom had been reached and therefore pushing forward, though with appropriate care.

Maybe it was being outside the U.S. again, but this travel brought to mind something I’ve noticed since returning to live in America three years ago following nearly 10 years in Europe: Many of my fellow Americans have developed an attitude of helplessness with regard to the admittedly serious problems we face.

We have two long-running wars in progress, neither with a foreseeable end, and we’re enduring the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression. Closer to home, manufacturing is only getting some attention now that it has cratered. Unemployment is rising, foreclosures continue, and our government’s major reaction seems to be printing more money and lobbing it in the general direction of the problems.

Yet many of us (I say most) will actually say out loud that there’s nothing we—any of us—really can do. It’s “the system.” It’s the politicians, or those Wall Street bankers. Or it’s those liberals, or those conservatives. But it’s definitely not us. And what does that make us? Passive victims, I’d say. This is just plain wrong. It’s lazy, it should be embarrassing, but above all, it’s got to change—if we want to improve, that is.

So here’s to the American Mold Builders Assn. and other groups like it that have gone active. The AMBA held its fall business meeting in Washington, DC, and besides bringing in speakers to inform its members, the members spent a good deal of their time informing senators, representatives, and their staffs about why the United States still needs to make things.

That beats the heck out of victimhood.

Rob Neilley
Editor in Chief
[email protected]

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