You could dub it a gentler shade of dot-com.
Two new online companies in the plastics industry have a differing raison d'etre than previous incarnations. They're not cutting out the source — i.e., the resin distributor or supplier —in a processor's quest for material buys.
That softer sell contrasts with some of the Internet pioneers, who told both suppliers and processors that they needed to work over the new Web sites or risk becoming a nonentity.
Unfortunately, most of those companies still haven't become much of an entity themselves. Nor have resin distributors been particularly threatened ... not yet anyway. Like everything in the dot-com universe, we'll have to see how it shakes out.
The nouveau online facilitator approach is touted by Michael Krumenacker, chief executive officer of TheBuyersNet.com Inc. and its new Web site, WorldWidePlastics.com. That company, plus San Mateo, Calif.-based PlasticEdge.com Inc., have recently emerged.
"We're not creating a market, creating auctions or taking business from someone else," said Krumenacker, a former Wall Street brokerage manager. "We don't even like to be called strictly a dot-com."
On a grander scale, Atlanta-based Omnexus also will not be a virtual distributor or take over the buying process, said David Jukes, vice president for alliances and sales.
The company, founded by five resin companies, will instead link the computer systems of its core injection and blow molders to those of suppliers. That way, processors can do the dirty work directly with suppliers through the Omnexus portal.
Omnexus plans to begin offering transactions over its site later this month, Jukes said.
WorldWidePlastics, based in Great River, N.Y., will provide an electronic catalog for semifinished shapes on its site. A customer wanting to buy 30 sheets of acrylic, for example, can place an order on an electronic shopping cart. The query goes to the supplier or distributor, who fills it.
PlasticEdge — founded by a former GE Plastics engineer and a Web designer — wants to become the leader in lead generation. The company (www.plastic edge.com) built a database of 2,000 suppliers (about 70 percent of its target number) for resin, equipment and services.
PlasticEdge will match processors filling out online forms with the appropriate suppliers. "We're not trying to rewrite traditional methods," said PlasticEdge co-founder Brian DeWeese. WorldwidePlastics went online the week of Nov. 13, while PlasticEdge expects to be running in December.
Pryweller is an Akron, Ohio-based senior reporter for Plastics News.