As the year winds down, we present our annual Plastic Globe awards, a celebration of dubious or otherwise unusual news from 2009.
PACK THE SUNSCREEN AWARD: To Bill Carteaux, president and CEO of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., who oversaw the decision to move NPE 2012 and 2015 to Orlando, Fla. Who's up for a spring break road trip?
TASTES GREAT AWARD: To young entrepreneur Corey Capasso, who's working with compounder A. Schulman Inc. to develop plastic concentrates in flavors like mint or raspberry. The materials could be used to make mouthpieces, teething rings or similar products. Capasso, a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin, said he got the idea when he realized there was no Everlasting Gobstopper of plastics. Willie Wonka would be proud.
NO BULL AWARD: To Chrysler AG, which last year had a herd of bulls at the auto show, but had one small, low-key indoor event in 2009. The difference didn't escape notice, including from then-exec Jim Press, who noted that the economy had changed drastically in the past year. We left the cows behind, he said during the news conference. It's a bear market anyway.
THE JOKE'S ON US AWARD: Plastics News switched our behind-the-scenes Web site editor in late July, and for a few minutes a phony test story, posted in early June, appeared on our home page. Perhaps you saw it and wondered about the byline: Frank Esposito, Plastics News Wunderkind.
20-20 HINDSIGHT TRUTH-TELLING AWARD: Ford executive Bruce Hettle, talking about working with suppliers. [We want] a real partnership not like in the old days, when we called it a partnership, but it was really a shakedown.
REAL WORLD AWARD: At a panel discussion with automakers, analysts and plastics suppliers during the TPO conference, moderators wanted to open the discussion with a topic that will be important to the plastics industry the increasing requirement for fuel economy, and how plastics can help lighten a vehicle's weight and help meet those requirements. It's the top concern for the industry, they said. No it's not, interjected David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research. The top concern is staying alive.
PEPSI GENERATION AWARD: To Tim Hanrahan, CEO of recycling equipment supplier Erema North America Inc., whose Plastics News perspective column Costs could defeat McCormick was quoted regularly in the Chicago media when the city lost NPE to Orlando, Fla. Never before has an invoice from McCormick Place attracted this much media attention.
ZERO WASTE AWARD: To India's Accura Polytech Pvt. Ltd., for designing a portable toilet made from recycled plastic and wood-composite materials. The company claims its design will cut manufacturing costs, potentially expanding access to safe sanitation to the 2.6 billion people, mostly in Asia, without it.
LOW-HANGING FRUIT AWARD: To the Hong Kong office of the environmental group WWF and Hong Kong injection molder Item Industries Ltd. for developing a program to identify relatively easy ways for local factories to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.
UNDERSTATEMENT AWARD: To General Motors Corp. On June 1, the day GM filed for bankruptcy, someone posted this on GM's Twitter feed: Total Confidence (current program) has ended as of May 31st, please stay tuned to @GMBlogs for more info on new programs.
OUTIE AND INNIE AWARD: To two injection press companies JSW Plastics Machinery Inc. and Nissei America Inc. that pulled out of NPE2009, then came back in after SPI reduced the cost to exhibit.
WHAT RECESSION? AWARD: To Toshiba Machine Co. America, which announced it sold at least 20 all-electric injection presses to Vision Plastics Inc., and JSW, which sold 50 all-electric machines to housewares molder Iris USA Inc. The deals brought some good news to a tough year for capital machinery sales.
NO LEARJET AWARD: After Detroit automakers took flack for flying in private jets to Washington to ask for a bailout, toolmakers in Ontario held a news conference in Windsor where they highlighted troubles in their sector. Craig Wiggins, from Tooling & Equipment Capital Solutions Inc. in Tecumseh, Ontario, said: We don't have corporate jets, we don't have a fleet of hybrid cars, what we've got are some guys with a pickup truck with a mold in the back.
FALLING PRICES AWARD: To rotational molder Hedstrom Plastics, which will move into a vacant Wal-Mart store in Ashland, Ohio. The building sat empty after Wal-Mart opened a Supercenter across town. Given the weak retail environment these days, the price was right. It's too bad Hedstrom doesn't need about 50 more plants to occupy more of the closed-down retail space creating eyesores around the country.
TRIP FROM HELL AWARD: To Richard John Pattison, described as a Sydney, Australia, plastics company CEO, who sued British Airways for A$600,000 when he had to endure a 12-hour flight from London to Shanghai with a broken seat that would not recline. BA denied liability, claiming Pattison failed to use a pillow to support his neck.
I HAD TO BUY CONDITIONER AWARD: To Jeffrey Ramsey, former controller with plastic foam producer JSP International Inc. in Wayne, Pa. In May, Ramsey was charged with more than 2,300 counts of theft and various other charges for allegedly stealing $1.6 million from the company by illegally writing more than 300 checks during a five-year period. Ramsey reportedly admitted that he transferred some of the money to his co-owned spa and salon in Philadelphia. You can buy a lot of hair gel for $1.6 million.
Copyright 2009 Crain Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.