Why does our plastics indus try have to go to such great lengths to get the public to ``take another look at plastics''? It seems to me that the industry has already proven itself and that plastic is a very viable alternative to other materials. The plastics industry doesn't have to sell a thing. My encounters have shown me that the plastics layman has a respect for plastics. He knows it can belighter in weight and more practical in cost; albeit, he may get perturbed from time to time when the selection of type leaves him unsatisfied. This is not the industry's fault, it's just ignorance or inexperience, or possibly an imbalance between budget and requirements.
I mean really, why do we need to prove ourselves to the community? Just look at automobiles these days. There are shapes and appearances that just would not be practical if it weren't for plastic. The new Ford Mustang's hood is a perfect example. Do you know how many more stamping dies would be needed to form those sharp nostrils in that hood? A few, and at about $150,000 per die, it adds up quick. Plastics has come a long way in this car. The original vintage had but one plastic component on the exterior and that was the ornament in the gas cap.
How about the interior of the car? I think the plastics salesman has it made! Look at today's instrument panels. They are full of luster, wood grain, and chrome. Combined with cockpit designs, car interiors give the driver a feeling of pure pleasure and control. You'll know what I mean when you take another look at the instrument panels in the new Ford Continental and Buick Park Avenue.
Never mind what you see in the car; how about what you feel? There are soft-feel layers containing the harder trim parts that add more to that feeling of pleasure and control.
My favorite in the feel department is GE's refrigerator door handles. Have you seen these? Or I should say have you felt them? Those handles are second to none when it comes to de-sired features in a refrigerator.
And then there's structure applications. Using the heating, venting and air conditioning duct systems to support the instrument panels instead of heavy-metal beams is ingenious. I think Chrysler saved about 10 pounds and a similar amount of cost doing it this way on the LH program. The idea proved to be a winner at the annual SPE automotive awards for the most innovative use of plastics in an interior application in 1992.
I could go on about all the different success stories in the auto industry. It just perplexes me to see large amounts of money being spent needlessly on image enhancement. Even in theenvironmental-goodwill category, where plastic plays a part in the landfills, the industry, ashelped by the Big Three, is doing its share to offset this. I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a great dinner meeting on plastics recycling put on by the SPE Detroit Section. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler astounded us on the progress being made in this area. They are recycling hundreds of millions of pounds of resins per year and the infrastructure is blossoming.
All you have to do to sell plastic these days is understand what your customers are trying to achieve and help them get there.
They already know that plastic has its places. I'll admit there is a question of competition, but if you're helping your customer achieve results, why would competition be a concern? One of my favorite proverbs reads something like this: ``Utterly useless says the buyer, until he gets home and brags about his bargain.'' Why worry? The rest will take care of itself.
What about the competition? My belief is that if the competition is knocking you, then you must be doing alright. Today, if you can present yourself and your company in a positive manner while obtaining the respect and likability of your customer and your associates, selling plastic is a piece of cake. Take another look?