(June 21, 2004) — In March 1999, as part of our 10th anniversary celebration, Plastics News ran a column I wrote with the headline “And they thought we wouldn't last.” Well, we've lasted. In fact, we're the only major North American plastics publication that hasn't been sold at least once since 1998! But it sure is tough out there, isn't it?
Since 1999, a lot has changed for us and for you.
The Internet revolution came and went. It was great for us; how was it for you? We ran more than 300 full-page ads in 1999 and 2000 from Internet start—ups that were going to change forever how the plastics industry bought and sold materials and equipment. The ride was great, while it lasted.
In 2000, NPE was bigger than ever. Life in plastics was good. So good, in fact, that in July 2000, Plastics News decided to get into the regional trade show business and bought the Plastics Fair shows from Advanstar Communications and then reintroduced them as Plastics Encounters.
By late 2000 the economy was softening and by mid-2001 the country was in recession. Then, on Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy struck. Business didn't come to a halt, but many do feel that life here in the United States, and business in general, changed forever. Sadly, I agree. While many plastics processors and suppliers still make long-term plans, they operate on a short-term basis, and hedge an uncertain future by not making as many commitments — whether it is buying molds, equipment … or ad pages!
Although by now, in mid-2004, the recession finally has receded, the business landscape has changed. Offshoring and outsourcing are either buzzwords or curse words, depending on one's perspective. China is on everyone's mind and lips. Concerns over energy costs and regulatory compliance have moved front and center.
Yet, some things remain the same: Strong companies will still lead, weaker ones will follow and the weakest will fade away. Is there a future for small companies and family-owned businesses? Of course, providing they can deliver value and supply a unique niche.
Earlier I mentioned that numerous U.S. plastics publications have changed hands in recent years. It's important to note that no such publication has been more stable than Plastics News. Our newspaper boasts five original staff members from March 1989 — Linda Whelan, Bob Grace, Bill Bregar, Jeannie Reall and myself — plus another eight staffers who have more than 10 years of experience on this publication. This stability is a big reason Plastics News retains its position as North America's leading plastics publication.
In print, online and in person, Plastics News will remain your No. 1 source for industry business news and information. Our Plastics Encounter shows and highly respected, annual Executive Forum are gathering momentum as the market picks up. In 2005, we'll hold trade shows in Indianapolis and Charlotte, N.C., and we've booked the Wigwam Resort in Phoenix for the next forum.
So keep reading, logging on and attending. Plastics News will be there to inform, advise, interpret and illuminate, regardless of what the future holds.
Eagan is publisher of Plastics News and a vice president of Crain Communications Inc.