MassPlastics supporters optimistic about show's survival

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FITCHBURG, MASS. (Jan. 20, 11:15 a.m. ET) — The fact that MassPlastics 2012 is being postponed until 2013 rather than canceled has some of its longtime exhibitors optimistic about its survival.

Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella, who has been seen handing out apples at many of the fall shows, said: “I think it is a good decision. It will allow them to regroup.”

He added: “Last year it was really good. They definitely did a really good job especially with the way the economy was. If they regroup and take a year or two, they will do well again.”

Mazzaarella said the regional trade show provides local companies a much-needed opportunity to do business face-to-face.

MassPlastics started in 1989 and the two-day show has been a highlight for the plastics-heavy region centered in central Massachusetts. The show is held every 18 months, alternating between March and October.

North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce President David McKeehan said the postponement came about for a number of reasons: competition from the larger NPE show, uncertainty about the location because the trade center where the show is usually held is up for sale, and the uncertain economy.

However, McKeehan felt MassPlastics still offers value to the region, and he is looking for the show to continue.

“It is really more of an economic development mission. It is really important to focus on the plastics cluster we have here. It is not just history, but a very tangible and current presence,” he said.

Although the public may believe that U.S. factories no longer make anything, McKeehan said 25 percent of the region’s workforce is still in manufacturing. There are more than 100 plastics related companies nearby.

“MassPlastics has always been a great show for us, but I think it was a wise decision to postpone, especially in light of the economy,” said Mark Hamilton, president of Hamilton Plastics Equipment LLC, of Bedford, N.H.

He added that equipment suppliers were focusing on NPE, and that this decision will give them more time to prepare for the regional show.

Absolute Group of Cos. of Worcester, Mass., has been the show’s largest exhibitor and was planning to be there in 2012, according to Glenn Frohring, president of Absolute Haitian Corp.

“It is right in the back yard of our company and was a common place to greet all our customers,” he said.

Nypro Inc. of Clinton, Mass., has been at all of the shows and according to Al Cotton, its spokesman, the company makes a point of exhibiting at MassPlastics and will do so again.