Are U.S. plastics companies starting to feel a little more optimistic? The results of an email survey of processors and suppliers, released today, indicates that "things perhaps aren't as bleak as they seem." The survey was conducted last month by Townsend Solutions and Plastics Technology, using their databases plus contacts from the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. The focus of the poll was to measure how the global recession is impacting capital-investment plans. According to the survey, 61 percent of the 490 processors said they have held off on spending this year. But the silver lining is that the same percentage said they would be ready to invest as soon as business conditions improved. Nearly 18 percent said they expect to buy new primary or auxiliary equipment in the next three months. Another 33 percent said they would be buying within the next 4-6 months, and 54 percent said they expect to buy in the next 7-12 months. More than 46 percent said they plan on buying tooling before the end of 2009. About 43 percent said they expect to buy auxiliary equipment or software this year, and more than a third said they plan to buy new primary equipment this year. Other "highlights":
- More than 32 percent said their business was "significantly declining," while 22 percent described their current activity as stable, 10.7 percent said slightly growing and 3.7 percent said significantly growing.
- Some 25 percent said in spite of the economy they are moving ahead with their plans to buy new equipment. Close to 50 percent said the economy has forced them to delay spending, while another 12 percent said conditions have forced them to cancel their investment plans.
- More than half said either they themselves or one of their colleagues would be attending NPE2009, while another 30 percent said they were still considering whether or not to go.
It's important to point out that an overwhelming majority -- 80 percent -- of processors surveyed indicate that, while delayed, they will follow through on planned equipment purchases--and of those, more than half indicated they would make purchases within the next 12 months. In addition, nearly 50 percent of those planning to purchase equipment indicate that trade shows would be the source of information used to research the purchase. Given plastics processors investment timeline coupled with Federal Stimulus tax incentives for capital equipment purchases made this tax year, SPI's NPE2009 trade show is well timed to catalyze business. Clearly the majority of the industry agrees since more than 50 percent of those surveyed are already planning to attend.Meanwhile, in other plastic survey news ... if you're a North American plastics processor and you want to participate in a benchmarking survey that can help you measure up your company's performance, check out the annual Plante & Moran survey. P&M calls the North American Plastics Study "the most in-depth benchmarking survey available linking profitability and performance in the plastics industry." Participating companies receive a free copy of the benchmarking report.