``Forward thinking'' is the latest buzz phrase for success. This is critically important today because of a startling reversal of fortunes in the marketplace. The smart companies think ahead and see past incidental downturns by never underestimating the American economy. Let us not be trapped by relying on Mr. Greenspan to temporarily change interest rates or to make our decisions based on sensational media coverage by reporters who do not understand the plastics industry. By looking beyond the media coverage and selecting proactive alternatives, companies will not fall prey to conservative hype and circumstance.
Is your sales team a ``me too,'' or do they create business to offset shortfalls in income? Would you hire two sales managers, one for the past and the other for the future? True sales success is creating new business, maintaining existing business and the constant evaluation of market trends to determine unexplored opportunities.
To be ahead of the market, our clients are adding pioneering technologies and acquiring people who counterbalance stale human resources to attract current and new customers. It is too easy to retrench and wrong to cut personnel, when you will be replacing that person soon, because fundamentally, there will never be another fatalistic U.S. market crash. Plus, the plastics industry is simply too resilient to suffer a setback. Add up the statistics to the constant growth of plastics and you have opportunity rather than traditional thinking. In fact, one major company recently announced hefty layoffs. In actuality, no layoffs have occurred at that company. The announcements appear to be a disguise to cut the fat, as opposed to economic reasons. So, it is reasonable to conclude that we are in a plastics market correction based on U.S. market conditions.
Moreover, end users and original equipment manufacturers are outsourcing plastic processing paired with metal enclosures integration, tooling and secondary operations into the new contract manufacturing arena. Contract manufacturing jumped into the plastics' scene slowly at first and now like wildfire. To bring OEM finished units to market with speed and quality has become a standard by which we now measure price and profit. (We all know by now how Hewlett Packard has shaped Western plastics manufacturing.) Recent Plastics News articles cite that cell-phone manufacturers have surprised a variety of subcontract injection molders by switching the supply chain around in favor of contract manufacturing management and processing.
We all can learn from this lesson because of two simple concepts. If you are judicious with quality then you keep or maintain the business. Currently there is a massive buildup of technology and process expertise at plastics processors. They know that if they do not keep pace then all manufacturing and assembly will probably be taken offshore, likely to Asian markets.
There is no difference between these concepts and human resourcing strategies. Our first-quarter survey asked clients if they would hire now if the ``right person'' came along. The overwhelming response was yes. Why? One reason is that the right person for the right job is not available at the time of vacancy. By having the right person or people, you can be best at quality and timely manufacturing.
Now you have the formula. The missing link is a third party satisfying the one most important human resource need, strategic hiring. The solution to today's business longevity is well-timed acquisition of exceptional employees within their chosen lifestyle. They then become an asset, not an intermittent liability.
John H. Dugan is president of plastics recruiting firm J. H. Dugan & Associates Inc. of Carmel, Calif.