Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Time to Move “Up the Down Staircase”

The movie “Up the Down Staircase” is a 1967 drama depicting the trials and tribulations of the first semester of an inner city school teacher. The school administration seems more focused on rules and function than education, and teaching the students seems more about the obligation and burden of managing the students than it is about helping them reach their full potential.

Sound familiar? In my short time in the plastics industry, I meet people all of the time that are absolutely passionate about the potential of this industry. Yet all around us there seems to be more focus on the “down staircase” than there is on the full impact this industry can have on the world and its future.

The NPE2009 trade show is just one example (albeit an important one). At the show this year, there are going to be more papers on new and exciting technologies, processes and business practices than have been presented at any plastics industry event – ever! Not only via ANTEC, but also at “The Business of Plastics” program, which was mentioned over at The Plastics Blog yesterday.

We will have close to 2,000 companies displaying their wares, new and exciting technology for now and the future. Also, the list of companies that have paid to attend the show is impressive. From packaging to medical and healthcare, from automotive to consumer products, these companies are seeking the competitive edge in either their current business initiatives or their plans for recovery. Either way, they get it! 2009 could be a make-or-break year not just for companies, but for entire industries.

Savvy corporate executives are sending their team members to one location to see thousands of innovations. This makes good business sense. It is no accident that there are shopping malls and super stores — people need the convenience and efficiency of one-stop-shopping to make the most of their time and money, and that is what NPE2009 is to the plastics industry. I can only imagine what it would cost — in dollars, stress and logistical nightmares — to travel from city-to-city and plant-to-plant to look for new technology and see it in action.

With all of this going on it boggles my mind to hear the negative minority focusing on the few who can’t be at the show. In my humble opinion, we need to accentuate the positive and start walking up the supposedly “down staircase.”

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