Cautious it may be, but optimism is on the prowl.
Those of us in the plastics industry have come a long way in the past 12-18 months, from a gloomy lowdown place all the way up to where we can see the dawn starting to break. We also know that we still have much farther to travel before we stand in the warm afternoon sun.
We at IMM know this to be the case because, along with our sister magazine Modern Plastics Worldwide, we invited 15 top managers of leading plastics supply-side companies to an executive roundtable in Chicago at the end of March, essentially to hear their responses to two questions.
Second: What actions can and should processors and moldmakers be doing to succeed going forward?
On the first question there was virtually unanimous agreement that our business had indeed turned upward again—certainly not dramatically, but the execs said the bottom had been reached during the latter third of 2009, give or take a few months, and the plastics business was stabilizing and starting to grow.
It needs to be pointed out that they were talking not just about their businesses, but also about the business activity of their moldmaker and molder clients—your business. The connection is patently obvious.
As for the second question, the roundtable was split into two sessions of 90 minutes each, and the pace of the discussion was, to say the least, lively and continuous. There were a number of excellent recommendations on what to do, and no need to choose a winner. The full collection forms a solid best-practices list.
Online editor John Clark’s article, “Executive Roundtable: Goodbye, ‘Good enough’; Hello, world class,” offers a distillation of many participants’ recommendations—though by no means all of them. Mark June 22 on your calendar, when IMM and MPW will conduct a webinar of the event—an edited 45-minute video recording of the roundtable sessions, plus some Q&A time. There’s no cost; sign up at plasticstoday.com. Don’t miss it.
Hard statistical data that is very up-to-date on our industry is hard to find, but stories heard at recent conferences and shows support the idea that the industry is recovering. I heard such stories at the Molding 2010 conference in San Antonio April 12-13, and again at the PDx/Amerimold show in Cincinnati May 11-13.
There is reason to be optimistic, but also reason to be careful—that cautious optimism everyone is expressing. The U.S.-initiated financial crisis spread around the world quickly, and many are nervous that ripple effects from Greece’s financial troubles could also go around. We’ve never before had a world so connected.
But that’s no reason to wait and hope things will get better on their own. They definitely won’t. So it’s time to get busy.
Note: If you haven’t already noticed, there is a new classified ad resource for the plastics industry at plasticstoday.com. Check it out. —Rob Neilley