Across the pond in Europe, the e-business going has been tough. And the tough — i.e., plastics Web traders — are still trying to get going.
Irish Web site Allplastx.com Ltd. was showered with attention when it launched in May. But after crashing when investment dried up a few months later, the Dundalk, Ireland-based company rebuilt with new money. The site has been getting 8,000-10,000 unique visitors a month, said co-founder Peter Agnew.
But there's a flip side. Few processors actually have made purchases, he said. In several cases, a molder or extruder completed a transaction, lowered the resin asking price as much as 13 percent — and then backed out before the order closed.
During the next few months, the company plans to revise its site and will be talking to potential new partners.
The company also plans to scrap its content, which Agnew said was not generating enough income. The firm is selling its domain name, www.allplastx.com, and its database of online suppliers and processors, considered one of the largest in Europe. The site was developed by Andersen Consulting at a cost of close to $1 million, Agnew said.
"The whole [e-business] idea is a difficult sell in Europe," he said.
San Francisco-based ChemConnect Inc., recently moved marketing and accounting from its European base in London to its main California office.
While the London office stays open for customer service, ChemConnect's European director, Paul Hodges, left to become a ChemConnect consultant.
No other layoffs are planned in Europe, said Linda Stegeman, ChemConnect's senior vice president of marketing. But she also said that demand in Europe has not been as aggressive as in North America.
"Our message to Europe is that your North American counterparts are moving forward," she said.
Others are moving forward, including Omnexus, a resin suppliers' portal for molders that has U.S. operations in Atlanta. The dot-com christened its central headquarters Feb. 8 in Zurich, Switzerland. Omnexus' investors include a bevy of European-based suppliers and distributors.
The Omnexus site will go live in Europe in March in five languages. By fall, Omnexus expects to start trading on that continent, said Michael Thaler, global director of marketing and branding.
European processors seem to be more willing to try Omnexus' marketplace than even those in North America, he said.
Omnexus has the backing of well-known suppliers, which could help. The lessons learned at Allplastx could help, too.
"Now, we'll focus on building a real, long-term business, not get-rich-quick profits," Agnew said.
Pryweller is an Akron, Ohio-based senior reporter for Plastics News.