TORONTO - Most exhibitors and showgoers interviewed informally at Plast-Ex '95, held May 1-4 in Toronto, feel the Canadian and U.S. economies will be steady the rest of this year - no big jumps, no deep troughs. ``I'm concerned about what might possibly happen to the economy. But the fact is, I haven't seen a slowdown. I keep expecting to see it, but I haven't,'' said Roger Lange, vice president and general manager of Sterling Inc., a Milwaukee auxiliary equipment supplier.
Lange said the U.S. economy may have achieved the mythical soft landing - an effort to slow growth to avoid inflation, without slipping into a recession.
``The nice thing about it is, inflation and lending rates seem to be under control,'' he said.
Lange added that the Canadian economy seems to be improving, though the weak Canadian dollar makes it more expensive for processors to buy U.S. machines.
Some plastics company executives note a difference in attitudes from last year, when resin prices were skyrocketing, machinery suppliers had fat backlogs of orders and processors couldn't seem to spend money fast enough.
``Producers are looking at the market a lot more aggressively. It's not the way it was five months ago,'' said President Stephen Tarnell of Tarnell Co., a credit and marketing reporting service based in Providence, R.I.
Still, plenty of processors are continuing to expand. Some are taking advantage of export opportunities resulting from the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to Rebecca Roger, international trade assistant for Canada/Mexico operations for the Michigan Jobs Commission in Lansing, Mich.
``All I am hearing, as far as Michigan is concerned, is that more people are being hired, more people are making more money. NAFTA has been a major asset,'' she said.
``What I'm seeing on the front lines is, there will be a slowdown, but not a dip in the economy,'' said Hans Rosebrock, director of the Canada-Ohio Trade Institute in Toledo, Ohio.
Although the pace has slowed, he said many companies still are rushing to add capacity to keep up with consumer demand.
Harold Roehrig, president of Garold Automation Inc., was even more bullish. His firm, a maker of wheel-type blow molding machines in Milton, Ontario, added its first U.S.-based sales official, in Atlanta, and plans to hire another in the Midwest.
``We've been very steady, very good. With the types of quotes we're putting out now, you can tell the market is starting to wake up,'' he said.
President Peter Tordy of BMPS Inc., a seller of used blow molding machines in Mississauga, Ontario, said business has been steady. The firm has 23 machines in stock.
``When you sell used equipment, you look for business to pick up when the economy starts to go bad,'' Tordy said. ``I think the economy is good until about '97.''