Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Recent Data Show Favorable Growth for U.S. Plastics Manufacturing

By Kim Coghill, SPI Director, Communications

SPI released the industry’s latest economic statistics and analysis indicating that plastics manufacturing continues to flourish due to an abundant supply of inexpensive natural gas, low inflation and positive trends in the nation’s overall economic health.

SPI’s in-depth data analysis of the industry’s 2012 performance (the latest statistics available) globally and in the U.S. is detailed in two reports titled, “The Definition, Size and Impact of the U.S. Plastics Industry,” and “Global Business Trends, Partners, Hot Products.”

While the recovering economy is also an important factor in the industry’s success SPI President and CEO William R. Carteaux attributes the industry’s consistent expansion to its cutting-edge technological advancements. “The industry has remained highly competitive by finding innovative solutions and efficiencies, as well as by expanding its international reach to new markets,” he said.

Plastics industry employment has steadily improved since the 2008-2009 recession. The latest numbers show that plastics industry employment in 2012 included 892,000 people in 15,949 facilities across the country. The industry kept pace by growing 0.1 percent per year from 1980 to 2012, which is better than manufacturing as a whole.

The plastics industry is also responsible for creating a multiplier effect spurring downstream industries. In 2012, upstream industries accounted for 521,000 jobs or about 0.58 upstream jobs for every job in the industry itself.  Upstream industries generated $83 billion in shipments in order to supply goods and services to the plastics industry.

Meanwhile, plastics manufacturers shipped more than $373 billion in goods and invested more than $9.6 billion on new capital equipment in 2012.

Also reflecting the improving U.S. economy, apparent consumption of plastics industry goods grew 5.7 percent from $237.6 billion in 2011 to $251 billion in 2012.

On the international front, the U.S. trade surplus was $13.1 billion. Mexico and Canada remained the U.S. plastics industry’s largest export markets. The industry exported $13.6 billion to Mexico and $12.5 billion to Canada. China is the industry’s third largest export market.

Members are invited to learn more about the reports by participating in an SPI-hosted webinar, Thursday, Feb. 6, at 2 p.m. (EST). Carteaux and Michael Taylor, SPI’s senior director of international affairs and trade, will provide an analysis of the reports. Members who participate will receive a free copy of the reports, each valued at $395.

To register for the webinar, click here.


Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Business Destination India: Organized Chaos, Plastics Growth

By Michael Taylor, SPI Senior Director, International Affairs & Trade

 Non-Indians who have visited India in an attempt to describe their experience of India to others have sometimes called it “organized chaos.” They go on to say that India is “in your face,” you are assaulted by sights, sounds and smells in intensity and combinations you have perhaps not encountered before. Some of my Indian friends who have spent significant time outside the country have even described to me how going back for a visit can be very draining to them, now that they have gotten used to less sensory overload. For those who crave differences and excitement, experienced at times at a frenetic pace, India is just the place.

SPI’s India Trade Mission included the Plastivision India 2013 trade show in Mumbai. (Image: Plastivision India)

SPI’s India Trade Mission included the Plastivision India 2013 trade show in Mumbai. (Image: Plastivision India)

Out of this organized chaos and SPI’s final trade mission for 2013 to Plastivision India in Mumbai came a number of truisms about entering a foreign market and conducting global business. One lesson was that nothing happens by chance to those who are awake—my iteration of a well-known saying.

For example, the All India Plastic Manufacturers’ Association (AIPMA) is the organizer of the Plastivision India show and our in-country partner. Among many things it did in treating the participating SPI member company representatives as VIPs was to provide us with food coupons that could be used daily at a designated food hall. For this trade mission, we actually worked a two-track approach to the B2B matchmaking, an approach that provided useful leads and meetings for our participants. However one participant relayed to me that perhaps his best connections came from randomly sitting down at a particular table in this food hall. In reality, any table would have presented him an opportunity, or multiple opportunities, but this one paid off big because he was looking to maximize the experience facilitated by our strategic partnership with AIPMA.

An excellent example of nothing happens by chance occurred around the goal the same participant had about making a final determination over what to do with his distributor situation in India. Another trade mission participant detailed his previous experiences as to why he sells directly as opposed to using a distributor. A member of AIPMA offered his insights as well and also provided some alternative contacts. This participant then spent time with his current distributor and ultimately came away with the kind of information he required to move forward in this market.

Both of these examples clearly illustrate yet again how being there and seeing for yourself is so critical. Along with experiencing the cultural differences firsthand, you can learn how to conduct business effectively in the market. This is true for every market, not just India.

I have had the great pleasure to work very closely with Indians for a number of years, and I would say their acceptance, hospitality and passion are in many instances unequaled. Out of the “organized chaos” emerges a very dynamic business culture that explains a great deal of India’s economic success. It is little wonder that they understand the concept of an innovation economy and are in full pursuit of it, albeit at a somewhat erratic pace sometimes.

India is not an easy market, no market is, but it is a growing market with a lot of opportunity.  A recent report from the Plastindia Foundation said the Indian plastics industry is set to double its per capita plastics consumption in the next five years, driven by increasing plastics usage in automobiles, packaging and government spending on infrastructure. This report estimates that the demand for polymers will rise to 16.5 million metric tons by 2016-17 from 11 million tons during 2012-13, resulting in annual consumption increasing by 10.8 percent. Further, India is expected to be among the top 10 packaging consumers in the world by 2016, with demand projected to reach $24 billion.

The next SPI Trade Mission will reach another growth market for plastics: Vietnam. From 2000 to 2013, Vietnam’s GDP grew at an average rate of 6.2 percent per year. Manufacturing, including more than 1000 plastics companies, is a major part of that growth. Plastics exports growing on average 20-25 percent yearly are a major component of the country’s positive trade balance.

SPI’s Vietnam Trade Mission will take place March 4-6, 2014 in conjunction with the Plastics & Rubber Vietnam 2014 trade show in Ho Chi Minh City. On January 9, 2014 an informational webinar will provide more detail on the Vietnam Trade mission and what to expect while there. Click here to register for the webinar.


Monday, November 4th, 2013

Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty Visits Industrial Heater Corp.

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT 5) was in a familiar area when she arrived to tour the Cheshire, Connecticut facility of SPI member company Industrial Heater Corp. on Halloween morning. That’s because, in addition to being in Connecticut’s Fifth Congressional District, which she represents in Congress, Cheshire is also her hometown.

The congresswoman was there to become familiar with the inside of IHCO’s factory, and learn what the company does and how it operates. She toured the manufacturing facility accompanied by Industrial Heater’s president, Tad McGwire.

Industrial Heater Corp. began designing and manufacturing heaters for leading manufacturers of plastics processing machines shortly after World War II. The company’s product lines have expanded significantly since then and today its products include barrel band heaters employing various advanced technologies, cartridge and nozzle heaters, strip and plate heaters, and thermocouple temperature sensors.

U.S. Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty spoke with employees of Industrial Heater Corp. after touring the factory with company president Tad McGwire (left)..

U.S. Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty spoke with employees of Industrial Heater Corp. after touring the factory with company president Tad McGwire (left).

Industrial Heater began exporting to plastics machine companies outside the U.S. in the early 1960s and now does business around the globe. The company is an active member of SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association. Tad McGwire is a member of SPI’s National Board, vice chairman of SPI’s Machinery Division and a member of the Operations Committee for the association’s triennial international plastics industry expo, the NPE.

Rep. Esty spoke with some of the workers as she was shown how they made and assembled parts for the various types of heaters. Then the production machines went quiet as the workers gathered to hear what the congresswoman had to say about Social Security, taxes, the minimum wage, immigration issues and workforce development, among other things. The employees asked questions, many of which were in Spanish. A bilingual employee served as the interpreter.

John Grant, SPI’s Senior Manager, Government Affairs said it was a great town hall meeting. There were journalists present from local news media, and their descriptions of the visit and town hall meeting can be found here: Eve Britton, Cheshire Citizen,; Luther Turnelle, New Haven Register,

Visits like this, which bring federal and state legislators to working plastics industry facilities, are arranged by SPI’s Government Affairs team for SPI on behalf of member companies, and everyone benefits. The legislator learns about manufacturing directly from the source. She or he is able to meet the people who work in the company, and to see that these are good paying jobs with benefits. Finally, the legislator can speak with the employees about the issues and legislation that concern them.

The company’s management also is able to talk about the issues that concern them with a person in a position to do something about those issues. It’s a win-win for all concerned.

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

At K 2013 SPI’s Carteaux Presents a Healthy U.S. Plastics Industry

Attendees enter the K 2013 trade fair in Düsseldorf, Germany

     Attendees entering K 2013, Düsseldorf, Germany

At 9 a.m. local time today (October 17, 2013) attendees began streaming  through the gates for the second day of the triennial K 2013 plastics trade fair in Düsseldorf, Germany. At the same time, in a conference room within the fair, Bill Carteaux, president of SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, began a presentation to journalists from global plastics and business media on the state of the U.S. plastics industry. It’s good news.

In spite of the uncertain business climate caused by the USA’s well-reported domestic political situation, America’s plastics industry continues to be one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the world’s largest economy. To be precise, Carteaux pointed out that the plastics business is the third largest U.S. manufacturing sector and unlike many other sectors, the plastics trade surplus continues to grow.

During the press conference sponsored by K 2013 organizer Messe Düsseldorf, Carteaux, speaking on behalf of the many U.S. companies exhibiting at the show, cited various statistical evidence that shows the U.S. plastics industry not only outpaces overall American manufacturing, but also continues to be a particularly strong force in markets around the globe.

Using statistics newly released by SPI, Carteaux reported that, “In 2012, the value of goods shipped by our industry was more than $373 billion and plastics continue to better the rest of U.S. manufacturing in key growth rate areas.”

Carteaux noted that continuing export growth in the U.S. plastics business reached $58.5 billion in 2012, and said he anticipated that the positive trend would continue for the next few years as recent Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Colombia, Panama and Russia are more fully exploited by American companies. He said, “In fact, our data for the first half of 2013 indicate that U.S. plastics industry exported goods were up 1.8 percent from the same period in 2012.

Carteaux said, “American CEOs realize that 96 percent of the world’s customers are outside the United States. SPI has responded this year by leading trade missions to Chile and Panama, and we have future trade missions planned to introduce companies to markets in India, Vietnam, South Korea and Turkey.”

Other details of the 2012 data from SPI mentioned by Carteaux include:

  • Besides shipping $373-billion worth of goods in 2012, the U.S. plastics industry employed 892,000 people and invested $9.6 billion in new capital equipment at 15,949 facilities across the U.S.
  • From 1980 to 2012, U.S.plastics employment grew 0.1% (vs. 1.4% for all manufacturing), real shipments grew 2.3% (vs. 0.3%), real value added was 2.2% (vs 0.7%), and productivity grew by 2.2% (vs. 1.7%).
  • In 2012, the U.S. plastics industry exported $58.5 billion worth of goods and had a positive trade balance of $13.1 billion.

NPE2015-logo-220wIf you are attending K 2013, you can learn more about the U.S. plastics industry in the U.S. Pavilion, Hall 13, Booth B91-28. Being in trade show mode, you will find information on NPE2015, which will happen in Orlando, Florida, March 23-27, 2015. Deadline for the important Space Draw Lottery for NPE2015 is coming soon — November 15, 2013. If the show seems far away, note that attendee pre-registration for NPE2015 opened on the first day of K 2013.

In the pavilion you can learn about the many new developments launching at NPE2015, such as Mission Control Centers for buying teams and NPE3D, the manufacturing industry’s global 3D printing conference and solutions fair — and there’s more.

Plastics industry suppliers also are invited to join SPI and NPE2015 staff and fellow plastics pros at the NPE2015 Reception at K 2013. It happens Friday, 18 October 2013 from 17:30 to 19:30 in Room 3 of CCD South on the Messe Düsseldorf fairgrounds. Though it’s not required, your RSVP will help with planning. SPI and NPE staffers are looking forward to meeting you there.


Thursday, September 12th, 2013

New IHS Study: Shale Energy to Drive American Manufacturing Renaissance — Plastics Industry Especially Well Positioned for Growth

In a recent press release from SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, SPI President & CEO Bill Carteaux said, “The abundant new sources of natural gas via shale is set to be a real game-changer for the U.S. plastics industry.”

The release discussed a just-released study from IHS — America’s New Energy Future: The Unconventional Oil and Gas Revolution and the Economy – Volume 3: A Manufacturing Renaissance — that assesses the coming impact of shale energy on the U.S. economy. SPI supported the study.

According to the IHS study, the long chain of shale energy development currently supports more than 2.1 million jobs, and that number will swell to more than 3.3 million in 2020 and nearly 3.9 million by 2025.

As for America’s third-largest manufacturing sector, the study projects that by 2020 the U.S. plastics industry will increase its output by 10%, create close to 15,000 new jobs and $868 million in labor income, and add $1.3 billion to the U.S. GDP.

Carteaux pointed out the multiple advantages that shale energy grants to the plastics sector compared to most other American manufacturing. “This new IHS study shows how shale energy development is creating a global competitive advantage for U.S. plastics manufacturers by bringing energy and feedstock prices down.”

The shale gas advantage works throughout the plastics value chain. Gas-based energy used to transform natural gas into plastic resin will cost less, as will the gas used as feedstock. In the next link of the plastics chain, the resin, which accounts for a substantial majority of the cost of a finished plastic component, will cost less. In addition, the cost of the energy needed to mold, extrude or form the resin into finished plastic products will also be lower thanks to shale gas.

The benefits of shale gas compound themselves all along the plastics value chain, and they even extend America’s advantage beyond its borders. “…consider that most resins in the United States are produced from natural gas,” said Carteaux, “while those in Europe and Asia are made from oil-based feedstock.”

As great as the potential benefits of American shale gas stand to be for the U.S. plastics industry, individual plastics companies must put in place specific strategies to reap the rewards. To that end, SPI and IHS are jointly sponsoring the Global Plastics Summit in Chicago, Nov. 4-6, featuring a program purpose-designed to help leaders of American plastics firms position their companies for profitable participation in the coming shale-gas-driven manufacturing renaissance.

In its report, IHS projects that the rise in domestic production will displace imports enough to cut the U.S. trade deficit by more than $164 million in 2020, which is about a third of the current deficit.

Thanks to abundant shale-based energy, American plastics companies face a golden opportunity to grow and profit, and have a golden opportunity to help them plan for it in Chicago this November. Fate, as they say, rewards the well prepared.

The complete report by IHS, America’s New Energy Future: The Unconventional Oil and Gas Revolution and the Economy – Volume 3: A Manufacturing Renaissance, can be downloaded here.