CHICAGO — NPE 1997 in Chicago was not just a place for equipment and resin makers to show their wares. It also was a place for companies not directly involved in making plastic products to feast on the frenzy generated by one of the industry's largest gatherings.
``We've never had such a successful show,'' said Samuel Smith III, president of exhibitor Wentworth Capital, whose specialized plastics financing company took quotes on $50 million worth of equipment. ``People were much more upbeat.''
Processors at NPE, held June 16-20, were looking for more than just scattered pieces of equipment, Smith said.
``Customers were buying systems, not just single machines,'' he said. ``They wanted molds, robotics and conveying systems, too. That seems to be what is exciting about this NPE.''
Wentworth added to the excitement by offering a decked-out Harley Davidson motorcycle to customers at the show. Jeff Kolbow of MGS Enterprises' Statistical Plastics Corp. in Germantown, Wis., was the lucky winner.
Ellen Schwartz, business development officer for Concord Commercial, a financing company, said the week at NPE led to ``two or three'' deals just in her Midwest region.
``From a marketing standpoint it's been very good,'' Schwartz said, adding that Concord, a Buffalo, N.Y., division of Hong Kong-based HSBC group, is very interested in getting more involved in plastics because it is ``such a growth industry.''
``With the strong economy, people have a higher confidence level about buying capital equipment,'' she said.
Schwartz's colleague at Concord, Chantal Quintero, a business development coordinator for the West Coast, took advantage of the seminars at NPE.
``That was so great,'' she said. ``The presenters were people who know the industry and are able to give out that information.''
On the business side, Quintero said her company developed many leads at the show.
``A lot of people are not buying now, but are here to preview the equipment,'' she said. ``They are going to be buying a few weeks after the show. That's good for us, too, because we can finance them down the road.''
This year's NPE was the first time Concord Commercial exhibited.
The show also was good for the economic development community, according to Michael T. Mooney, regional marketing director for Expansion Management Magazine of Boulder, Colo.
``It's been a fantastic show,'' Mooney said. ``There have been a diverse group of companies coming up to our booth wanting information for their site-selection decisions.''
This is the third NPE for Mooney, who noted the show has been ``growing every year we've been here.''
Mooney also said the 1997 show had many more economic development representatives than in previous years.
Exhibiting at the show was not a prerequisite for sealing deals.
Stopol Business Services, a division of used-equipment broker Stopol Inc. of Solon, Ohio, made some merger matches during the show, according to Neil Kruschke Jr., Stopol vice president of sales and marketing.
``Too bad [NPE] is only every three years,'' Kruschke said. ``We got a lot of business and exposure there.''
A cadre of Stopol representatives went to NPE with the aim of generating business, even though the company did not exhibit, Kruschke said.
``We'll be announcing deals for two or three companies in the next 60 days,'' he said. ``And we generated 10-15 leads of people wanting us to find companies for them.''
On the equipment side, Kruschke said Stopol sold seven used processing machines at the show, even though none were on display.
``A lot of customers bought from us before the show,'' Kruschke said. ``But others wanted to check out the new machines before choosing ours.''