(Feb. 20, 2006) — The angst of competition is showcased in homes worldwide with the 2006 Winter Olympics, as pictures of Turin, Italy, are cast across television screens via old-fashioned boxes or flat panels, depending on where you are on the technology spectrum.
I watched the women's half pipe on my old-fashioned Panasonic. The point, much to my husband's horror, is that it works. No reason to go to Best Buy and dedicate more than $2,000 to a flat-screen.
Truth be told, I will hold out just like I did on the cell-phone frenzy. By society's standards, my decision to wait until 2000 to get a cell phone was akin to puttering along in a Model T when I could just walk onto a car lot and buy a model of my choice. When my original cell phone busted in 2002, I opted for Krazy Glue instead of trading it in for an updated model that sang to me in 20 different languages and would allow me to play Pac-Man or solitaire and plan a vacation to Bora Bora.
The glue worked for another year.
Some would say I'm frugal. I say I'm pragmatic.
This week, we showcase that sector of the plastics processing industry where pragmatism seems to be a common approach, especially among processors serving the industrial sector. Though they represent only 21 percent of the $11.2 billion total thermoformed output in North America, those serving the industrial sector have to ask themselves an important question.
Did they miss an opportunity to advance their market position?
In his report, consultant Peter Mooney signals a lack of action by industrial thermoformers during the most recent recession, which could have been addressed by acquisition, consolidation, and/or equipment and technology upgrades.
Those actions were fundamentally missing from the 2000-03 lull in business for industrial thermoformers, when the industry growth rate essentially was zero, industry consultant Jim Throne points out in the foreword to that report. Throne said industrial thermoformers have missed their opportunity to advance their market position.
Was it an opportunity that those processors never saw? Doubtful. As Throne said in a recent telephone interview, “Thermoformers are terribly pragmatic. Thermoformers will do it if pushed by customers and competition.”
Still, the rest of the world is growing up, as you'll see in this week's report on the growth of the portable restroom industry. Where the U.S. market is mature, other countries offer nascent opportunity for those companies ready and willing to do business.
It's a microcosm of the larger opportunities at hand, an example of companies learning to adapt technology from other end markets to serve new, emerging segments.
Sometimes, pragmatism is worthwhile. Other times, critical, forward thinking is required to boost people out of their comfort zones.
You know your company best. If you feel you missed an opportunity, set aside time now to evaluate your growth agenda and give your company honest scrutiny. It's better late than never, and your firm's very survival may depend on it.
DeRosa is a staff reporter based in Oklahoma City.