Sometimes, the best things in plastics are free - at least for 60 days.
That's the approach that Resin Technology Inc. (Booth N5965) is taking by offering 60 days of its resin market reports and full consulting services free of charge. Fort Worth, Texas-based RTI assists plastics processors in making their resin buying more efficient and affordable.
During an interview at NPE, RTI president Garland Strong said recent upheaval in commodity resin markets - caused by last fall's hurricanes and by other factors affecting raw materials - has increased interest in his company's services.
``When the market changes - and it feels like it's always changing now - that gives us a chance to let our customers know what's going on with the resin suppliers and at different accounts,'' Strong said. ``When there are problems in resin markets, that really increases our value, and we field a lot more calls.''
Last year, RTI consulted on 4 billion pounds of resin purchases made by its roster of 80 clients. The firm handles most commodity resins as well as other materials, such as polycarbonate and colorants.
``We can use our 4 billion pounds as a benchmark to let the client know - for their size and for what they're buying - where [in price] they should be buying, and then we can help them achieve that,'' Strong said.
The polyethylene market, in particular, has been rocked with change in the last year, with prices soaring 32 cents per pound in the wake of last fall's hurricanes, only to drop 20 cents in early 2006. PE makers started to reverse that slide with increases ranging from 3 cents to 6 cents in May, but similar increases for June have met with mixed results.
``We've seen some partial [PE] price increases in June, but we're advising our customers to buy as needed and not to build inventory,'' Strong said.
``Business [for PE processors] isn't really robust right now, and all the resin suppliers are profitable.''
To further grow its business, RTI is allowing clients to sign up for programs as short as six months in duration, rather than their standard one-year or two-year agreements. The firm also installed a fixed-rate payment program for customers buying 7 million pounds or less of resin each year.
Larger clients still reimburse RTI with half of the savings they realize from the company's programs.
RTI now employs 17 full-time staff members and is looking to add an engineering resins specialist. In late 2005, the firm moved to a larger office in Fort Worth to accommodate its growing staff.