Hedging its bet: Resin supplier DSM Engineering Plastics Inc. announced its intent Aug. 22 to join Omnexus and take an equity stake in the company.
To date, 10 resin suppliers have joined Omnexus. The company hopes to have as many as 17 companies on board by the end of the year, said Tony Diaz, vice president for supplier relations.
The new companies — unlike the founding five, which are Omnexus board members — will sit on an advisory panel to set future direction, Diaz said. That panel will start in the fourth quarter, he said.
DSM has chosen to work with sites that it thinks will sustain a large market presence, said Dan Bishop, marketing manager of DSM's North American headquarters in Evansville, Ind.
But the company has a lot of irons in the fire. Besides Omnexus, it has an equity position in online portal ChemConnect Inc., chemical marketplace Elemica and ElastomerSolutions.com, Bishop said.
Many other resin companies in Omnexus have sprinkled their online investments liberally.
"Few can predict which will be successful," Bishop said. "All of us can afford to spread the risk around to different business models, until we find the ones that are the best fits."
That's not exactly a ringing endorsement of Omnexus or any other model. But with dot-coms morphing daily, it might make good business sense.
Like an amoeba: Plastics-based Internet sites still are multiplying quickly. Two others have decided to take a ride across the wild Web frontier.
Both have taken dead aim at existing companies they said have flawed models.
Portax.com GmbH has started testing its new Web site, www.portax.com, from its headquarters in Munich, Germany. The company founders — a mix of industry consultants and former bankers — want to create one of the first online plastics communities in Europe.
With Allplastx struggling, that sounds feasible. Portax plans to set up a trading room where materials can be auctioned and private trading spaces where individual companies can bargain for resin.
The German-language site will start trading in Europe by the end of August. In September, the portal will be translated into English, Spanish, French and Italian and foster an international community, said spokesman Muhammad Chbib.
Another new company, Mfgconnect Inc., will attempt to match buyers and sellers for custom fabricated parts, handing sellers a list of potential supplier candidates. That way, the buyer is not inundated with calls, said Mfgconnect chief operating officer Steven Overholt.
The site, based in Missoula, Mont., will allow the parties to send design drawings, ask questions and arrange site visits.
The company, which launched the site in June, plans to move into injection molded parts and other plastics processes in September, Overholt said. The company also has become an associate member of the National Tooling & Machining Association and hopes to tap its member database.
The portal is a reaction to reverse-auction models such as FreeMarkets Inc. that Overholt said beats up on suppliers by basing parts transactions solely on lowest price.
Mfgconnect has its work cut out for it. FreeMarkets also happens to be one of the world's largest business-to-business Web sites.
Pryweller is an Akron, Ohio-based senior reporter for Plastics News.