One of Mexico's best-known plastics consulting firms is celebrating its 25th anniversary by ignoring the recession and ambitiously branching out into new areas, to include radio broadcasting and trade show organizing.
The privately owned, Mexico City-based Instituto Mexicano del Plastico Industrial SC, or IMPI, established its reputation by offering polymer education and training services. It also gathers market data and statistics on Mexico's plastics industry, and seven years ago launched the country's only national plastics trade magazine, Ambiente Plastico.
The husband-and-wife team behind the company is Rafael Blanco Vargas, its president, and MÃ³nica Conde Ortiz, who serves as editorial director of the 10,000-circulation, bimonthly magazine. In an interview at the recent NPE2009 show in Chicago, Conde provided an update about IMPI's latest initiatives.
A few months ago we started a plastics radio show called Planeta Plastico targeting consumers. It's the first radio show in Mexico devoted to a vertical market, she claims. The weekly show, which was Blanco's idea, airs from 6 to 7 p.m. local (Central U.S.) time on Radio Chapultepec (560 AM). She described the radio station as very traditional, typically playing pop music and classic rock. The show also is broadcast over the Internet on three Web sites, including under the Radio Plastico link on IMPI's own site at www.plastico.com.mx.
Commenting on the motivation for this latest venture, Conde said: Rafael is very creative. He's the pitcher and I'm the catcher.
The Planeta Plastico show leverages IMPI's growing Internet expertise, as the firm already offers online, Spanish-language training courses that Conde said draw participants from across Latin America. These courses take place twice weekly, from 5 till 8 p.m., for eight months.
The main objective of the radio show, which began in late April, is to disseminate the benefits of plastic between employees, executives, children, youth and the general public to encourage its use, according to a release headlined Plastic that can be heard. The show provides business opportunities, promotes the IMPI services as training personnel in plastics to meet the priority needs of the plastics industry.
As of late June, Blanco, Conde and IMPI academic director Edith Armillas Beltran had produced nine shows, covering such topics as plastics use in the automotive, construction, medical and toy sectors. The next one is due to address food packaging. A typical show, moderated by Blanco, includes interviews with experts in the field, and involves fielding questions from listeners.
The last couple of shows were extended to 90 minutes, noted Conde, who said the first show drew about 400 listeners, while the most recent program attracted closer to 1,500. The shows often get 50-60 callers, though there is not enough time for all of them to get on the air.
Initially, Conde said, most listeners were people from the plastics industry, maybe 90 percent, but now maybe only 40 percent with the rest being from outside the industry.
So far they have attracted three sponsors an injection molder, an extruded products firm and a compounder. Suppliers ask to be on the show, she said, They pay us because it's a very good idea to promote the industry.
The other major initiative currently in IMPI's pipeline is a trade show they have dubbed Artiplast 2009. It's a show due to take place Nov. 18-20 at the World Trade Center in Mexico City whose exhibitors will be limited to plastics processing companies. The key will be in attracting the right kind of brand owners and original equipment manufacturers to attend.
We've had the idea for a long time, explained Conde, who noted that IMPI three years ago in Mexico City organized a small show-within-a-show at Expo Antad, the largest retail and supermarket trade show in Latin America, and then repeated the exercise the following year.
We invited 20 companies within the plastics industry to participate in a pavilion. Mexican companies are often bad marketers. They don't know where or how to sell. Spinning off Artiplast into its own event is IMPI's attempt to help address that problem, at least for certain types of firms. Antad will help us to market [our show] to retailers.
Conde said that, despite the short lead time for staging the exhibition, they hope to attract about 200 small to medium-sized plastic processor companies as exhibitors, covering more than 50,000 square feet, and some 2,000 attendees. They plan to divide the show floor into end-market groupings such as automotive, agriculture, building/ construction, electrical/electronics, housewares, packaging and medical, and provide a showcase for Mexican ingenuity and manufacturing skills. There also will be an innovation area that will feature made-in-Mexico plastic products.
The economy secretary of the state is keen to help us promote this kind of exhibition, she added, since boosting Mexican manufacturing will help create jobs. Our strategy is to start with the [end] market, and help companies learn how to reach that market.
The biggest challenge, and expense, she admits, will be in recruiting attendees. But Conde feels that current trends are in their favor.
OEMs now are looking more for Mexican suppliers. We are very creative in Mexico. We have a lot of ideas, but we don't often know now to execute. Finally, Conde contends that the Mexican plastics industry is very tough.
We've had many problems, she said, citing both the H1N1 swine flu epidemic and the recent wave of violent drug crime, which have combined to give Mexico an image problem. But we're still in business! And Blanco is still pitching, and Conde is still catching.
Copyright 2009 Crain Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.