Pittsburgh — Thomas Goeke is pretty pumped about the plastics industry in general and blow molding in particular.
Goeke has a unique view of the business as CEO of Milacron LLC, the Cincinnati-based company that provides equipment for a large swath of the plastics processing industry, including the blow molding business. Milacron serves the blow molding industry through its Uniloy brand.
As a keynote speaker at the recent Annual Blow Molding Conference in Pittsburgh, Goeke laid out his view of the larger plastics industry these days, including conditions that face blow molders in 2015.
He likes what he sees.
“Competition will come from other technologies, but the benefits of plastics are vastly superior,” he told the crowd at the conference, which was sponsored by the Blow Molding Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers.
While plastics continue to find new applications and take market share from other materials, there also are a couple of factors that could influence the business on the macro scale.
The slowdown of growth in China and lower oil prices both could have an impact, the CEO said.
“The natural belief is if oil is lower, then the consumer has more in their pockets and they spend more, consumption increases and everybody's business gets better,” Goeke said.
“But the facts are actually the opposite and one of the reasons is that there are developing countries that have a significant position in oil production and have economies building around higher prices than $50 or $45 a barrel. And once things drop below a certain point, those economies are not as wealthy and there's a deterioration,” he said.
Still, even with these headwinds, Milacron's leader sees growth ahead.
“In the long run, the dynamics, I think, are still very healthy. In the short run, we'll have blips on the screen due to de-acceleration in China and oil prices worldwide,” he said.
“So we continue to have strong growth. All of the trends are still favorable for further plastics penetration and growth. Although we have different dynamics, the trends are still very favorable.
“The world continues to consume plastics at an incredible rate. Blow molding is thriving,” he said.
Goeke told the members of the blow molding crowd to be “heads up” about potential impacts to the business. “But the important thing is the fundamentals of our industry have not changed and plastics continue to flourish and grow and blow molding along with it,” he said.