As a North American plastics processor, what keeps you awake at night? Allow us to hazard a guess:
* Unsteady resin supply, and materials and energy prices.
* Foreign competition, especially from China.
* Prospects for your customers and the end markets they serve.
* Expanding abroad while keeping your intellectual property safe.
* Managing and motivating your workforce, and possibly preparing for leadership succession.
* Staying on top of merger and acquisition trends, or preparing to buy or sell businesses yourself.
* Nurturing innovation and the creative spirit.
* Deciding if or how to adopt new technology.
With these concerns in mind, Plastics News put together the program for its upcoming Executive Forum. It's increasingly difficult to get a message heard in these days of simply doing business and putting out fires. So please hear me out.
When business is hurting, one looks to cut travel, trim costs, get lean and stay focused. When it starts to pick up again, as it has for many plastics companies, life can get frantically busy. Your leaner staff is now stretched thin, and one must make time to court new customers, process quotes and ensure you fill the orders and promises already made. Neither sounds like an ideal time to take two or three days to attend an event at a resort.
These are all legitimate reasons and concerns - but fear not. You can golf on Sunday afternoon at the Forum, if you wish, but after that, it's all business. Twenty-seven speakers in 2½ days will address the above topics, and more. At least as important is the opportunity to network informally with colleagues, suppliers and customers in a setting that stimulates discussion about best practices and new ideas.
Case in point: Chris Morton, senior director for plastics worldwide at electronics contract manufacturer Flextronics International Ltd., attended last year's Forum in Phoenix. Despite an initial reluctance to attend, Morton said later, ``We took out some very high-level points, and I've told a couple dozen people - from our machinery suppliers to other plastics executives - that they're missing a significant opportunity if they don't attend this event.'' This year, Morton is speaking. He plans to advise executives on how a process called ``technology road-mapping'' may help identify game-changing technologies, and how to implement them in your own company.
Peter Bemis of Bemis Manufacturing Co. plans to share what he's learned about employee development and appraisal. Ziba Design founder Sohrab Vossoughi will tell how his firm is helping Chinese computer giant Lenovo Group and other A-list clients develop winning products and instill an innovative culture.
HPC Industries Chairman Leon Farahnik, who runs growing bag maker Hilex Poly, and Plastech Engineered Products President/COO Phil Martens will be among those discussing industry M&A trends.
Recently, the global VP for a major plastics processor told me that he's still working with two suppliers he met at our Forum four years ago. That's what it's all about: meeting, mixing, learning. We hope to see you March 5-8 in Tampa.
Robert Grace is editor and associate publisher of Plastics News.