Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

NPE2009 Pressed On, Persevered and We Were All Rewarded

From the moment we opened the newspapers and turned on the television sets in September of 2008 and saw the first stories break on the subject of bank failures, we knew we were in for a battle.  From there, the news got worse, and  our industry started to slow to a crawl following the lead of those industries we support.  Through it all, NPE2009 was written and talked about as if it were a lightning rod for all of the problems we faced as an industry.  With tremendous commitment by volunteers, and our executive leadership, we accepted the challenges, and even braced ourselves for potential obstacles that had not yet presented themselves.

And boy did they rear up and pose monumental challenges.  The automotive and housing industries collapse, the aforementioned banking crisis, elections, bailouts, hurricane damage to the important “rigs” in the Gulf of Mexico, oil prices, flu pandemic, travel restrictions, skepticism in the press… What else could they throw at us?  We didn’t know, but we were prepared and proactive.  At times, we were spinning around in the ring like Rocky Balboa.  But, just like Rocky, we didn’t go down.  We just got tougher. We developed a proactive plan to navigate these troubled waters and win the fight!  We knew that NPE2009 could help serve as a beacon and provide the plastics industry with a much needed shot in the arm.

NPE2009 was a cost-effective, dynamic event. Never before have so many people looked towards a trade show with so much hope and interest.  With over 1,800 exhibiting companies, visitors to the show could use NPE as a cost-effective means to see the latest technological advancements, all in one location.  Entire supply chains, from material suppliers, to molders and mold makers, to the equipment and machinery they use, to the processes that will make the plastics industry sustainable were all on display.  In addition, visitors got a glimpse of the future in design, and education from both a technical and business perspective.  Over 1,000 presenters helped educate those interested in the classroom environment.

More than 44,000 people registered to attend the show, representing over 18,000 individual companies.  Even though the registration number is down from previous shows, this unique company number looms large, as it demonstrates that the world plastics community was well represented at NPE2009.  From the reports coming from exhibitors, there were many and very substantial orders being written at the show.  We heard from companies that  were thrilled that in this climate, serious buyers were showing up to conduct serious business!

Prior to the show, there were some very public “cancellations” by companies who decided against participation.  We also had companies that elected to not “show” equipment.  I think it is fair to say that this group of suppliers missed a  once-in-three-years opportunity to show their “stuff.”   I think this group failed to consider that, according to the Center for the Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), 44% of visitors to machinery shows visit only one show!  That means that you will not be seen by close to 20,000 of the visitors to NPE2009 again until NPE2012.  This doesn’t even take into account the fact that visitors to NPE2009, given the current economic climate, were seriously motivated to have invested in attending, and I am sure they were pleased at what they saw!

From the opening ceremony with the traditional bagpipes procession through the halls, to the closing bell when we turned down the lights and rolled up the carpet, NPE2009 had more content, more exhibiting companies, and more at stake than any NPE in recent memory.  The show took place and was a dynamic shot in the arm for an important industry.  I am proud to have been a part of the team that brought NPE2009 to you and the industry.

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