The champagne has gone flat and the pretzels are getting stale, but the memory of the ball dropping on Times Square is still fresh. While 2009 is still young, here are some new year's resolutions for plastics industry executives:
1. Hold on to the best. Make sure your best customers, suppliers, investors and employees are in the loop and on board with your company's 2009 strategy.
2. Spend some money to save some money. Cut your scrap. Recycle the waste you can't eliminate. Invest in a product that promises to save energy, even if it's just on one machine or in one plant.
3. Get informed. How often have you been surprised by a major move by a competitor, customer or supplier? Knowledge has value. Be the first in your market to have important information, and learn how to use it to your advantage.
4. Get out of the office. Go to a Society of Plastics Engineers meeting and make some new contacts. Visit a customer in person, where you can trade gossip and perhaps help troubleshoot a problem. Sign up for a good conference where you'll learn something from successful companies. (Plastics News' Executive Forum is a good place to start.) Take a trip overseas and learn more about your competition and the opportunities in markets that you're not tapping yet.
5. Make time for what's important. Volunteer your time. Go to your kids' or your grandkids' school activities. Call your mom. Take your dad to a ball game.
6. Raise your firm's profile in the community. Write a letter to the business editor of your local newspaper to let them know what you do and why your company is important. Invite a 4-H or scout group on a plant tour. Join your local Rotary and Chamber of Commerce.
7. Try something green. Lots of companies are doing interesting things in the name of the environment. Experiment with some bioplastics, or with some recycled-content resin. See if you can make a business case for a sustainability strategy that would make your business stand out from the crowd.
8. Don't forget training. Learn new skills, and make sure your employees are doing the same. The world is changing. You must adapt.
Twittering from Detroit
The North American International Auto Show in Detroit may be smaller in 2009, but there are still dozens of new cars and car concepts being introduced during the Jan. 11-13 media event, and thousands of suppliers, carmakers and car models on display.
And it's not just about the sheet metal. From the housing for the batteries of Toyota's electric vehicle concept to a radiator tank using bio-resin, interior trim and polycarbonate windows, plastics will have its time in the spotlight as well.
To bring just a small taste of the plastics side of the auto industry during the show in real time, Plastics News staff reporter Rhoda Miel is micro-blogging during the event via Twitter. Check out www.twitter.com/plasticsnews for updates.
Molder and interior trim specialist Johnson Controls Inc. was scheduled to get the show started at 8:15 a.m. yesterday. And if you know of a debut or news conference that we shouldn't miss, give us a ``tweet'' from the show floor.