(June 30, 2003) — I can't tell you how excited, how truly geeked I was to be covering NPE 2003.
As a plastics-industry journalist of some standing, I knew that I had reached the entrance ramp to the mecca of my profession. And what made it even better was the knowledge of what I got to cover at this year's show.
For, along with my other beats, I once again was the electronic-commerce reporter at NPE!
At NPE 2000, it was the absolute hippest place to be at the show. E-commerce was the proverbial engine driving our overheated economy. It was the future for all of us, whether we realized it or not at the time. We could do magical things on the Internet, and those e-commerce leaders were as omnipotent as Harry Potter.
Don't trust me, just look at what happened at NPE 2000. I went back and counted the e-commerce companies in Chicago three years ago. They filled close to 30 booths. And those did not include companies just selling software.
NPE 2000 was the venue for the launch of an alphabet soup of company names: Eplast, QPlastics, ProcessZone, AssetTrade, 20Tons, FOBPlastics, YourMoldingMachine, getPlastic and the urbanely named PlasticSmart. All of which had the dot-com monicker after their names.
But, let's face it, in 2000, it was partly about the parties. This was Chicago, after all, so one e-business company even had former Bears coach Mike Ditka at an off-site fete. Another firm, this one for Web equipment, handed out special invites to a midnight penthouse bash complete with a too-cool-for-words jazz band.
That great icon of industry, Jack Welch of General Electric Co., spent a good five minutes at an e-commerce booth talking up the two young principals. It was a visit from royalty. That's the power of e-biz.
So here it is, 2003, and the fun is about to begin again. I've got my silk shirt dry-cleaned and I'm ready to party. I've got an empty bag all ready to collect the tchotchkes at the booths, some the size of Sierra Leone.
So where are these guys? All I could find at one of the Web sites was : “The requested URL could not be retrieved.” I must be doing something wrong. I log into another one and am making some headway. I'll click on one of these icons. It says: “Under Construction.” But the date on this Web site is 2000.
To my relief, I find a few remaining e-commerce companies at NPE 2003. At least I'll have something to do here. There's Omnexus, of course. And ThePlasticsExchange, the company that received Jack Welch. And, and … not much else.
But there's some hope for this beat. I see from my 2000 list that there's one more Web-based resin-trading company that I should look up. Where's Enron?
Pryweller is Plastics News' own geeked-out senior reporter based in Akron, Ohio.