Thursday, November 6th, 2008
I was all set to depart Washington, D.C. the day after the most anticipated Presidential election in memory to go to Chicago, site of SPl and the Plastics News Global Group’s Sustain ’08 Conference. Sustain ’08 was shaping up to be a great conference, with a first rate speaker line-up covering a wide range of sustainability challenges that are on the front burner for much of the plastics industry.
But, as fate would have it, I was invited to address the Plastics Chamber of the Brazilian Machinery Manufacturer’s Association (ABIMAQ) to discuss opportunities at NPE2009, SPI’s international trade show set for this coming June in Chicago. Their invitation was for the exact same dates as Sustain ’08, which left me with a choice: Do I attend Sustain ’08, or accept a unique opportunity to address prospective exhibitor and attendees from this very important market? Answer: Sao Paulo, here I come!
After flying all night I arrived in Brazil just in time to meet with the U.S. Commercial Officer from the U.S. Embassy. While chugging several cups of high octane Brazilian coffee, the Commercial Officer and I discussed their willingness to organize a contingency of Brazilian buyers to visit NPE. Together we drafted a soup to nuts (Brazil nuts, of course) program to all but guarantee their attendance at NPE. We discussed the International Plastics Design Competition, a Brazilian Reception, education programs with Portuguese translation and more. The Commercial Officer and I would have wrapped this up in less than one hour were it not for interruptions from Brazilians spotting me as an American and wanting to know if I thought Barack Obama would win the election.
Eventually, I went to my room to draft a presentation that I hoped would resonate with the members of ABIMAQ. After ordering dinner (and of course answering the waiter’s questions regarding the election) I got to work crafting the presentation and preparing for questions regarding the following aspects of NPE2009 that I was told would be of particular interest: Unions, Operations, International Shipping, Finances and Recycling. I also prepared a few words for the inevitable election questions.
The next morning the cab ride to the ABIMQ building took about 30 minutes – plenty of time to discuss the election with the driver! Once there, I was ready to work my magic, and blow away my audience. I thanked them for hosting me, and they thanked me for coming all the way to Sao Paulo for a three hour meeting to address the general state of the U.S. Presidential election! Of course, we also talked a lot about plastics and NPE2009.
As it turns out, the Brazilians have a lot of respect for the NPE show. ABIMAQ members were quite interested in our International Plastics Design Competition, and see it as a great way to work with their global processor clients to enter parts and designs for potential awards and recognition.They were also interested in our Emerging Technology Pavilion, and the participation we are getting from the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and various nanotechnology research groups. We also discussed the appointment of Freeman as our new official services contractor, and what this means for the high level of service that Brazilian companies will receive.
Finally, we discussed the current global economy, and how Obama’s election might impact the financial world’s confidence. On that note, however, I saw what would really float their boat: the financial experts at NPE2009 who will be able to meet with processors and machinery manufacturers at the show, and help expedite the credit process! As a matter of fact, we are featuring a Time Compression Pavilion at NPE 2009 to address ways that the plastics community can put product deployment on the fast track.
ABIMAQ members are very excited about all of the new activities slated for NPE2009, and are glad that SPI has brought management of the show in house. Of course, they were happy to have me there as an official, un-official spokesperson for President Elect Barack Obama!
I accomplished all of this in less than 36 hours and more than 9,000 miles. Next week: Beijing.