Friday, December 5th, 2014

Good News from SPI’s 2014 Global Business Trends Report

SPI released its 2014 Global Business Trends report this week, and revealed that, to put it mildly, last year was a good one for plastics.

Earth-NASA-2Worldwide demand for U.S. plastics industry goods hit record levels in 2013, growing by 6.5 percent from $251 billion in 2012, to $267 billion last year, which exceeds the $262.2 billion record set in 2006, before the recession was a twinkle in the global economy’s eye. “Surpassing previous consumption levels confirms that the U.S. plastics manufacturing industry is a major player in the world’s economy,” said SPI President and CEO William Carteaux, noting that “while U.S. exports of raw materials continue to show profitability thanks in part to increase in shale gas supplies, domestic demand holds the key to a wealth of job growth and economic benefits for firms that invest in the nation’s manufacturing renaissance.”

Exports also resumed their growth in 2013, the report noted, notching a 2.7 percent increase across most sectors (resins, plastic products and molds), excluding machinery. Companies in the machinery sector shouldn’t fret too much, however, as sales and exports of machinery typically expand every three years on account of NPE, the premier international plastics showcase put on by SPI, which will occur next in March 23-27, 2015 in Orlando, Fla.8_Bubble-Chandelier-Green-Souda-2

More than just the positive growth in domestic demand along with exports, the 2014 Global Business Trends report also suggests a solid basis for future growth throughout the entire industry, particularly in the U.S., where the manufacturing trade balance improved in this year’s report in part due to “reshoring,” whereby companies return previously “offshored” manufacturing operations to the U.S. Additionally, the U.S.’ flourishing domestic market required more production in order to adequately meet demand, and the ratio of industry exports to domestic shipments fell from 22.2 percent in 2012 to 21.5 percent in 2013, yet another sign of an improving U.S. economy.

Ultimately the U.S. is becoming more and more competitive in manufacturing because of four main characteristics: low wage inflation, a lower-valued dollar, high productivity and increasingly abundant energy resources. Taken together these elements suggest a bright future ahead for the industry and a great deal of opportunity, in the U.S. specifically.

For more insight into SPI’s 2014 Global Business Trends report and to learn what reshoring and increased domestic demand will mean for the U.S. plastics industry, join SPI President and CEO William Carteaux for a free webinar at 2 p.m. (EDT) next Wednesday, Dec. 10. Register today here.

Friday, October 31st, 2014

SPI 2014 Student Video Contest Offers Biggest Prize Package in Contest History

$8,500 in Cash, All-Expense-Paid Trip to NPE2015 Still Up For Grabs

Entrants in the Plastic Industry’s 2014 Student Video Contest, hosted by SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association and the Future of Plastics Foundation, aren’t just competing to create the best video that smartly and creatively explores the plastics industry’s bright future. They’re also competing for the largest prize package in contest history.

SPI and the Future of Plastics Foundation, along with the contest’s generous sponsors, will award prizes to the top three submissions. Third place gets $3,500, second place gets $5,000 and, if offering the biggest prize pool in the contest’s history wasn’t a big enough milestone, for the first time ever, the grand prize winner of the Student Video Contest will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Orlando, Fla. for NPE2015, the premier event for the entire plastics industry.NPE_logo

This year’s contest asks students to submit 2-4 minute videos on the theme of “Innovating in the 21st Century,” challenging graduate and undergraduate students, as teams and/or as individuals, to explore the future of plastics in the realms of innovation, design freedom and the economics of plastics. Prior contests have focused on the history of plastics and how the world’s brightest minds have relied on these materials to carry society into the modern era, like 2012’s first and second place winners.

“But the truth is that the story of plastic’s past has already been told; we want students to tell us the story of plastic’s future,” said SPI President and CEO William R. Carteaux when this year’s contest launched. “Many of the items that we take for granted today seemed like science fiction even a decade ago, but what innovations in plastic will we be saying that about in 10, 25 or even 50 years from now? That’s the question we want our best and brightest to answer in the 2014 Student Video Contest and its theme of ‘Innovating in the 21st Century.’”

Entries will be accepted until Nov. 30. If you’re a full-time undergraduate or graduate student in a plastics program, and want a shot at $3,500, $5,000 or an all-expenses-paid trip to the world’s largest plastics trade show and conference, click over to SPI’s Student Video Contest website for details, and let us know what you think the future holds in store for the plastics industry.

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

At NPE2012 the South/North Hall Is Filling Fast

On Tuesday in Orlando, Florida, SPI’s Senior VP of Trade Shows Gene Sanders (ExpoGene) tells us of real progress in the setup at the North/South Hall of NPE2012, and offers a lesson on when to remove your sunglasses.

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We’ve been chatting a lot about the West Hall recently, so today I thought I’d fill you in on what’s happening over at the South/North Hall (no, the General Lee won’t be parked out front, sorry). Upon walking into the building today I couldn’t help but notice how dark it is. Then I noticed that I forgot to take off my sunglasses.

Once I removed my shades, I was shocked at the amount of branding and building that is going on. There must have been an army of people in the halls moving, raising, and installing all kinds of stuff. Registration was set up, signs were everywhere (think Times Square on New Year’s Eve), and the exhibits seem to have come out of nowhere! There are some beautiful displays that our resin folks are preparing and she’s shaping up like a real “Material Girl” (get it?).

The South/North (sounds like we are confused, but we’re not) building is also home to Technology Central, where you will find hundreds of educational sessions, the technology pavilions, many impressive resin displays, and still other technologies. It’s just a short walk

from the West Hall to the Peabody and Hilton Hotels. This is a great place to showcase what’s new in plastics technology.

During the walk between the North/South and the West Halls, you will notice the beautiful landscaping at the OCCC. Actually, there are no trees or plants. Visit Orlando kindly installed a complete Disney Animation set of plastic flowers, palm trees, and shrubs just for us. They too highlight a new industry segment to be showcased at NPE2015 – Plasticulture!  Or is it Floral Polymers? (so…will they use the resin flowers potted in the ground to make more resin? Now that’s sustainability!)

Everyone (but this one guy) seems really pleased with how smoothly everything is going. I’ve haven’t heard many negative comments about the job people here are doing (except of course for that one guy).

Tomorrow should be whacky Wednesday here at the OCCC, with more and more exhibitors showing up and the clock ticking closer to the opening hour, so my report should be even more interesting (thank goodness for that!).

Until then, I am Expogene “On the Scene!”

Images From the North/South Hall at NPE2012 — Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

As Expected, Many Mighty Machines Roll into NPE2012

Husky H-MED injection molding machine entering NPE2012 show hall

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The theme of NPE2012, “The Return of the Machines,” today became three-dimensional reality. The freight doors of the sprawling Orange County Convention Center opened and plastics production machinery and equipment of all types began streaming in. It will all be on display when the show opens on April 2nd, following the Super Sunday events of April 1st, and much of it will be running

Most of us who will be at NPE2012 two weeks from now, exhibitors or attendees, will never see the load-in and setup that precedes a show this large. And that’s a shame folks, because it is truly amazing, bordering on the miraculous in fact, that so many machines get set up and go operational in a space of nine days. Anybody who has set up just one machine knows what a stunning achievement this is.

I am assuming you are coming to NPE2012, and that’s because I assume you are a plastics professional who intends to be part of the action as our dynamic industry moves forward. You know that whatever the future brings, plastics will be a leading player. Fortunately for you, the timing of NPE2012 could not be better. Though it is still unsteady, the economy gives cause for optimism, manufacturing is trending upward, and innovation, the catalyst of progress, is where plastics thrive.

NPE2012 is the best single resource you will find until, well, until NPE2015. The machines entering the halls today are the first of an armada made of the best in plastics production technology. The photos show injection molding technology, but by the time you read this thermoforming, extrusion, and blow molding machinery, and every type of auxiliary equipment, also have passed through the freight doors.

Like the plastics industry, NPE2012 is more than its hardware. Materials suppliers offer a strong presence at this show, and increasingly application-specific solutions. In all, over 1,900 exhibitors showing their wares are spread across nearly a million square feet of display space. When you include the areas for such seminars and presentations as the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) ANTEC 2012 Conference, SPI’s Business of Plastics Conference, and the Latin American Seminars in Spanish; the special technology and market pavilions; NPE2012 Technology Theater; the International Plastics Design Competition; five Plastics in Sports demo areas, and all the rest, close to two million square feet of opportunity awaits you.

If it’s in any way plastics-related, it’s at NPE2012, April 1st through April 5th at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. Assuming that you are plastics-related, you’ll be there too.

Once off the flatbed trailer, the Husky H-MED AE (All Electric) shown below the headline will look like the one seen here, and be the heart of a technology-rich medical workcell running in Husky’s booth.

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Looking Forward to Jon Huntsman, Jr.’s NPE2012 Keynote Address

It is fortunate that Jon Huntsman, Jr. was able to accept SPI’s invitation to deliver the keynote address at the Opening Gala of the NPE2012 international plastics expo on April 1st in Orlando, FL. Rarely does a person suit his assignment so well, his roots in the plastics business being but one among many reasons to say that. (The Washington Post enjoyed SPI’s choice of Huntsman as well!)

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Jon Huntsman, Jr.

Jon Huntsman, Jr., will be the keynote speaker at the Opening Gala of NPE2012 on April 1st in Orlando, FL.

He has been active since 1981 in the chemicals and plastics business of Huntsman Corporation, the company founded by his father, Jon Huntsman, Sr., in 1970. He held the post of CEO for some time and currently is a member of the board of directors.

Huntsman is a plastics industry insider then, but he also is much more. His skills and experience span global commerce, international trade alliances, mission critical diplomacy, and political governance. What is most interesting is that every aspect of his multifaceted career in some way touches the daily lives of the plastics industry professionals that will form his audience that evening.

His most recent diplomatic posting as U.S. ambassador to China is vitally relevant, of course. Previous to his Beijing posting he also served as ambassador to Singapore and held appointments of increasing responsibility from four U.S. presidents. During his tenure as U.S. Trade Ambassador, one of several U.S. Dept. of Commerce posts, he negotiated or brokered dozens of trade agreements, including those with China, Taiwan, and India.

Huntsman’s role in the 2001 global trade negotiations in Doha, Qatar was a critical one, guiding the entry of both Taiwan and China into the World Trade Organization. With Chinese and Taiwanese leaders in the same room, the highest level of diplomacy was essential. Surely it helped that Huntsman had lived in Asia several times in his life and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

He is often addressed as Governor Huntsman, an honor given to him twice by the citizens of Utah. He was a founder of the Pacific Council on International Policy and held senior positions at the Brookings Institute, Center for Strategic and International Studies Pacific Forum, Asia Society, and National Bureau of Asian Research.

All that is more than enough reason to expect an outstanding keynote address, but Gov. Huntsman has another very particular reason to inspire the audience in Orlando.

The Opening Gala is a formal event that, besides the keynote address, includes a reception, banquet, and the induction ceremony honoring ten new members of the Plastics Hall of Fame. Jon Huntsman, Sr. was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame during NPE 1994. I don’t know for certain that Jon Huntsman, Sr. will be in the audience, but I will call it likely. Father and son have good cause to celebrate each other’s achievements.

More reasons to celebrate: SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association is celebrating its 75th anniversary, and the Plastics Hall of Fame is celebrating its 40th anniversary. See you in Orlando!

P.S. A complete schedule of NPE2012 events can be found at The opening gala takes place at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel near the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, from 6:00 to 9:45 p.m. on April 1, 2012. For individual or group ticket sales and sponsorships, contact Tiffany Freud at or 1-202-416-4653.