While no player has dominated the online stage for resin, many observers look to Omnexus to become the lead actor in what could be an epic struggle for survival.
The company is backed by equity stakes from nine major resin suppliers. It wants to become the one-stop source for all the needs of injection and blow molders, including helping processors source equipment, tooling and services.
But don't expect Omnexus to roar out of the gate burning rubber. Like many dot-coms, it needs some direction.
The company still plans to launch the site in October in North America, going to Europe and Asia in 2001. But the portal purposely will be fairly crude upfront, offering catalog browsing and limited informational content, said Duane Priddy, Omnexus global vice president for marketing and sales.
The site plans to start offering catalog transactions by mid-November, he said. At that time, processors can submit a request for resin quotes to each company — through the central Web address — and negotiate price.
Soon after that, the company plans to convene both a supplier advisory panel and a customer panel to guide the site, he said.
"All this is evolutionary," Priddy said. "Catalog offerings aren't rocket science. But what's beautiful is that of everything else out there, we can be the one truly neutral and independent site on a global basis."
GE Polymerland could take exception to that. But Priddy said the Polymerland site primarily serves one customer, one that also has declined to join Omnexus.
Atlanta-based Omnexus also has its own management issues. Andersen Consulting launched the birth of the site. Now, 18 permanent employees are coming onboard, with half of those joining by Sept. 5, Priddy said. So far, they have all come from the five founding resin companies.
Priddy, a former Bayer AG organic chemist and project manager, is employee No. 1.
Others include Tony Diaz, a former BASF AG account manager, who now serves as Omnexus vice president for supplier relations; and Thorne King, formerly strategic planning manager for DuPont Engineering Polymers, who came aboard as vice president of transaction services.
The staff transition — as many as 50 people each are projected to be hired eventually in the United States, Europe and Asia — has led to some disarray, according to several observers close to Omnexus. The five founding members have pulled back their people who helped with the initial plans.
As many as five to seven people had been on loan from the resin companies to help start Omnexus," one source said. "After NPE, all these guys were supposed to go back to their regular jobs. The others have to make it happen."
Pryweller is an Akron-based senior reporter for Plastics News. His beats include e-business and mold making.