We all have a lot to be thankful for this year — that's a fact every year that we find ourselves in the company of family and friends at Thanksgiving.
And, in some cases, when we're in the company of good dogs, too.
So in a spirit of goodwill and, for the most part, positivity (it's not a typical week, I know), let's take a look at some of the best things in the plastics industry this Thanksgiving.
In 2014, I'm thankful for ...
• A fairly healthy economy, especially for those of us in North America. I've been through enough recessions to realize that these are good times. 2014 is going to be one of those years that we'll look back on fondly. We've had a heck of a lot of stories this year about companies adding staff, building plants, investing in new technology and beefing up capacity. Do you remember back in 2009, when we had almost none of those stories? It wasn't that long ago.
• Companies that are bringing new talent into the plastics industry. It's encouraging to visit plants and meet all the sharp young people who are new to plastics. Off the top of my head, I met impressive apprentices and interns on a few trips this year, including at R&D/Leverage and Nicolet Plastics Inc.
I also met dozens more bright young people at Antec. Yes, Antec. If you haven't been to the Society of Plastics Engineers' annual conference in a few years, it's not the meeting of old white guys that you may remember.
Jaime Gomez and many more SPE members are making tremendous efforts to encourage young engineers just starting off in their careers. SPE even held a scavenger hunt on the Las Vegas strip this year, and it's planning to do it again at Antec 2015, in Orlando, Fla. So SPE deserves a special Thanksgiving shout-out.
Plastics News got caught up in the “recognizing youth” trend this year too, with our Rising Stars project for future leaders under age 40. We're planning to repeat the feature in 2015.
• Strong, thriving companies. We've got a ton of them. In the past couple of weeks, we've been narrowing down our list of candidates for Plastics News Processor of the Year. Based on what we've seen so far, we've got a great list. I can't remember a year that we had this many good companies. The quality is always great. This year the quantity was higher than average.
• A fairly jargon-free year. 2014 was a year without any significant new business buzzwords. You know what I'm talking about, terms like “new normal” and “incentivize” that pop up, and suddenly they're in every business presentation, on the cover of every financial magazine, and your boss uses them in an email or conversation with you at least five times every week.
Maybe we're finally in a new era of common sense, when experts and consultants don't have to come up with a new word to describe working hard and providing good customer service. But I doubt it.
• For the volunteers who keep the Plastics Hall of Fame going.
The Plastics Hall of Fame is going to announce a new class of inductees next week. This is going to be the group that will be introduced at NPE 2015. We can't be thankful for them yet — we don't have the names. But I am thankful for everyone involved in the Plastics Hall of Fame. I'm looking forward to meeting the new honorees and learning more about the early days of this still-nascent industry.
• Shale gas? I laughed out loud last week when we included it in our list of things to be thankful for in our new web poll. I can't get used to the idea of being thankful for gas. That's especially true at Thanksgiving.
•For the people who set good examples for all of us. I'm thankful for the teachers and coaches who made a difference in my life. For the great bosses who taught me, by example, how to manage people. For my parents, who instilled in me a work ethic that's so engrained, even if I try to be lazy, I just can't do it.
It's no surprise that my Dad still works part-time, at age 79, and that Mom keeps a schedule that would exhaust an average 21-year-old.
I have so much to be thankful for this year. I hope you do, too.
Loepp is editor of Plastics News and author of “The Plastics Blog.”