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During the past 13 years here, with Modern Plastics and then PlasticsToday, I have had the great privilege of meeting 1000s of wonderful people in this fascinating industry. You have welcomed me into your facilities, shared your coffee at your trade show stands and even invited me into your homes. It's difficult to be absolutely sure, as there must be fine folks in the glass, metal, paper and other industries, but I am pretty certain that the plastics community is filled with the best, most creative and friendly people to be found.
November 10, 2011
5 Min Read
I still recall the day in early 1998 that I interviewed for a job as an associate editor for Modern Plastics magazine; in fact I still have the small "Help Wanted" ad for the job that I cut out of a newspaper, back when you actually found want ads in newspapers. Editor-in-chief Patrick Toensmeier had flown over from NYC to Frankfurt for the interviews, and joining him were the two senior European editors, Peter Mapleston and Robert Colvin.
The others who had been interviewed for the job all had been experienced journalists, I was told, but luck and a few hours of solid preparation were on my side; I was offered the opportunity to work for Modern Plastics not eight hours after I'd been interviewed. My wife and I celebrated, and laughed: "What do I know about plastics? What do I know about journalism?" (That's your straight line, dear reader).
Fortunately Peter, Bob, and a host of others on our staff and in the industry helped me quickly get a feel for the issues of the day. Phthalates in PVC, PS versus PP/injection molding versus thermoforming for yogurt packaging, gas barriers for fuel tanks, developments in wood/plastic compounds: so much has changed in this industry, but those subjects from a few of my first articles remain as topical as ever.
In the years since, and like most in the plastics industry, we enjoyed good times and also went through periods that were good for building character but little else. We published five K Show Daily newspapers, and I'm proud to say these have improved with every opportunity. Until this past April we published a monthly magazine, Modern Plastics that was subscribed to by people in more countries than McDonalds has franchises. In September 2008 we started a new web portal, PlasticsToday, and in March 2009 we started the NewsFeed, daily e-newsletter, and both have been great successes.
It has been a good run, but now my employment path has taken a turn; this is my last article for PlasticsToday. Fortunately for me, the new assignment will include plenty of opportunities to stay in close contact with many of the people in this industry. In journalists' parlance, I am "going to the dark side" to work at one of this industry's best suppliers of materials and compounds (OK, it's actually the best)(note to self: it's never too early to start making nice with the new employer). After railing for years against rising plastics prices, I'll now enjoy a new perspective from the sell side of the business, beginning next week at, of all places, a trade show.
Thirteen years is a long time to spend with any employer, and I must thank the current and former owners of Modern Plastics magazine and PlasticsToday for allowing me the privilege of working here. My goodness but I have disagreed with some (well, more than some) of the decisions made at "levels above reality", but I always appreciated the opportunity to speak my mind and to earn my paycheck here.
Priceless for the entire time here has been the opportunity to work closely with so many excellent people. The plastics industry has been through turbulent times during those years, and the media industry has witnessed its biggest changes since the invention of the printing press; combine the two and you understand the ride we have taken.
PlasticsToday has the luxury of continuing under the watchful eye of Tony Deligio, who will bring a new spark, new ideas and a lot of improvement to the portal. It will be a pleasure to continue to watch him work his magic here. Tony understands the mission: provide plastics processors information they can use to more successfully run their operations.
Clare Goldsberry and Stephen Moore are two editors I have worked with and admired during my tenure, and both still churn out good articles every day for the plastics processing community. Recently PlasticsToday welcomed back Doug Smock, one of the people I worked with and looked up to as I began my time here. There are many others working hard to make PlasticsToday an excellent one-stop plastics information stop on the Internet, and I wish them all the best.
To you, the readers: thank you for being such an ambitious, forthright, genuine and friendly group. "Salt of the earth" is overused but it is a phrase that comes to mind when I think of the plastics processing community. Stay engaged, stay informed, keep your employees trained and safe, and if you have something to say, then ask Tony for a share of the bully pulpit.
P.S. I cannot leave without a plug for the webinars PlasticsToday does, especially the Injection Molding Expert and Extrusion Expert series hosted by, respectively, Mike Sepe and Allan Griff. Typically these 60-minute online seminars (with live Q&A) draw an audience of anywhere from 250-500 attendees, which is a multiple of the results of most other webcasts in this industry. But if 500 attend, that means about 110,000 who read this website or its newsletters are not attending.
Most who attend one make time to attend the next one, which is a sure sign of the value of these. As moderator of dozens of these webinars, with an eye on the attendees' list, I can attest that many of the repeat attendees are the plastics experts from small companies such as GE, Ford, Dell, every leading medical device OEM, and the like. These are excellent, free events, and if you are one of the 110,000 who don't yet think a PlasticsToday webinar is worth your while---well, maybe next time, for a change, you give one a shot. End of plug.
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