If 2001 taught us anything, it was that successful businesses must be flexible, receptive to change and prepared to roll with whatever sucker punches the market may throw. Count Plastics News among those who listened and learned.
In fall 2000 we jumped into the trade-show business via the acquisition of the Plastics Fair and Western Plastics Expo events from Advanstar Communications. Given the recession, the timing for rebranding and reinvigorating this series of industry exhibitions could not have been worse. Still, we persevered, relaunching the shows last year under the Plastics Encounter flag, and staging events in Los Angeles, Cleveland and Atlanta.
Attendance was disappointing, which in retrospect was not surprising, given the nationwide epidemic of shrinking budgets, travel lock-downs and terrorist fears. Still, many Encounter participants told us they recognized and appreciated our strong efforts.
Make no mistake about it, Plastics News is in the show business. But we've assessed the market conditions for the current year, and decided to make some adjustments.
We plan to scale back the number of Encounter events in 2002 from the previously announced three, to one in Indianapolis this September. That means we will not go forward with our Memphis Encounter in April nor our Long Beach Encounter on the West Coast in November. Early market reaction to the news has been very supportive.
We believe that a single trade show and conference, in the processing heartland of middle America, will best serve the marketplace in this recession-tinged year. Plastics companies' spending, travel and marketing budgets will remain tight in 2002, meaning they also are looking to focus on select industry events. Rest assured: Plastics Encounter Indianapolis, Sept. 17-19, will be one of those events.
Meantime, we also are refining our longer-term trade-show plans. We plan to honor the commitment we made when we bought the shows — to not hold any Encounters in 2003, as that is the year for the huge, triennial NPE expo. But we do intend to hold a conference, the Plastics News Executive Forum, Jan. 26-28, 2003, at an upscale Phoenix resort. That event, geared toward senior-level industry executives, offers forward-looking, strategic insights into materials, markets and management.
In the spring and fall of 2004, we will stage Plastics Encounters in the Southeast and in the Michigan/Ohio corridor in the Midwest — areas that are underserved by plastics trade shows. And, as in Indianapolis this fall, these will be strong regional events focused purely on plastics, as opposed to being add-ons to broad, end-market expos.
Some vocal elements of the industry complain there are “too many shows.” Our view, more specifically, is that historically there have been too many lousy shows. With market needs in mind, we waited for years to buy the former Plastics Fairs, rather than add to the industry's bloated trade-show capacity by starting our own.
The market always will welcome events that deliver significant business leads, valuable personal contacts and timely information that helps plastics companies operate more profitably. We're investing significant effort and money into our acquired properties to make them such events.
We hope to see you in Indy and Phoenix!