Large trade shows must be reinvented
I was surprised by the conclusion you drew in your Feb. 16, Page 6 Viewpoint, ``Industry gets radical with marketing funds,'' concerning GE Plastics' decision to forgo participation in this year's K show. You said, ``But spending everywhere for a global company like GE Plastics might just be impossible. So it has to make tough decisions.''
I don't buy your argument. As most industry observers know, if GE Plastics can't afford it, who can? One wonders if the explanation lies elsewhere.
Does an exhibit at a show like NPE or K provide a useful forum for any leading material supplier? I think these big trade events need to reinvent themselves for material suppliers, or the exodus will gain momentum.
Material suppliers used to help bankroll the annual Society of Automotive Engineers' exhibit floor, but by the early 1990s they realized their marketing dollars were much better spent elsewhere. They left - quickly.
More recently, several high-profile, global material suppliers (including Dow, Rhodia and others) chose to pass on NPE 2003. They knew they didn't need an exhibit in Chicago to introduce products, gather market intelligence and build new, or reinforce existing, customer relationships. They found a better way.
Perhaps the customers who've complained that the costs of the big exhibits at NPE are reflected in the prices they pay for resin are now being heard.
John H. Caccese Marcom & PR Services
Mission Viejo, Calif.
Programs like NASA provide inspiration
I read with interest the recent Perspective from George Epstein (Feb. 16, Page 6), ``Creating jobs takes creativity.''
He notes that we should apply resources directly to innovation and product development instead of pursuits such as the space program. I agree with the thought, but disagree with the example.
The space program has served as a focus point to develop methods of manufacturing and new materials, and to pull teams together across diverse groups. Everyone got together and pulled toward a common goal. Innovation and pride in those innovations came from being part of something larger than just ``making a part.'' The space program provided the vision and kept manufacturing hopping to keep up.
To advocate telling firms ``innovate!'' then demanding to get a new ``gee-whiz'' product out on a deadline, under budget, with no commitment that it will see the light of day, and with the threat of layoffs looming is not fostering leaps of technology. Reality is that standard research and development is not a priority for commercial firms. Product liability constantly threatens.
Furthermore, innovation and creation of products is quickly taken away from our manufacturing sector in the United States and given overseas.
I propose that having programs capturing imagination like NASA is necessary to innovation.
We need a larger picture of a project in order to think outside the box, change the infrastructure of how we do business and make new ideas come out.
Fort Worth, Texas