Tight credit, canceled orders, roller-coaster resin prices, supply-chain distress and unprecedented financial demands from suppliers and customers: Welcome to the wonderful world of plastics product manufacturing, circa 2009.
There is no way to fireproof yourself or your company completely from the current economic fallout, but there certainly are steps one can take to prepare for the unexpected. Nobody whether working for a large multinational or a small, private firm is immune to the chaos. Just ask Chrysler Corp., or Hoop Roche.
The former top official at injection molder Erie Plastics Corp. in Corry, Pa., Roche saw his family company crumble beneath him, despite trying to do all the right things. After 48 years in the business, he thought he'd seen it all, but he hadn't.
Now, with Erie's assets sold off, Roche is willing to share some of the painful lessons he learned, to try to help others avoid a similar fate. He will tell his tale for the first time publicly at the March 1-4 Plastics News Executive Forum 2009 in Las Vegas. Roche says he will focus ``on what we did wrong, what we did right, and what we would do differently.''
He will be followed on the program by a pair of attorneys with extensive restructuring and bankruptcy experience. William I. Kohn chairs Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP's Business Reorganization Practice Group. He will partner with Deborah Thorne, a partner with Barnes & Thornburg LLP and a board member of the American Bankruptcy Institute. They will offer tips on how to spot warning signs when a supplier or customer is running into financial problems and suggest what steps you can take to protect yourself.
Few sectors have seen more tumult than the automotive industry. Plastic parts suppliers are having difficulty planning for next week, much less next year.
Consultant Kim Korth, president and founder of IRN Inc., serves as an adviser to several leading global auto suppliers. At the forum, she will tag-team with Jim Klunk, senior vice president at private-equity firm Macquarie Capital (USA) Inc., to discuss the current state of the vehicle industry and to offer their views about key trends to watch.
Business-management guru Jim Collins, author of such books as Built to Last and Good to Great, said in a recent interview with Fortune magazine that in troubled times, a business needs enduring values. Fred Keller would call that ``social capital.'' Keller, who is chairman, chief executive officer and president of injection molder Cascade Engineering Inc. of Grand Rapids, Mich., for years has passionately embraced issues outside the typical realm of manufacturing firms from social workforce programs to sustain- ability. He has invested heavily in such initiatives, and seen the payback, both emotionally and financially. At the forum, Keller, who also serves as chair of the Department of Commerce's manufacturing council, will share how these efforts have helped give Cascade a competitive advantage.
Jeff Mengel, a partner at Plante & Moran PLLC, will offer the results of fresh, original research that examines what different approaches highly leveraged and low-leveraged U.S. processors are taking to deal with the credit crunch, and what the industry may look like coming out of the recession.
Other presenters will offer management best-practices advice, including how to:
* Save money by better managing your energy consumption.
* Enter the medical products or other profitable businesses.
* Distinguish your firm through marketing and branding.
* Buy resin competitively.
To view the full program or to register, go to www.plastics news .com/forum2009.