Naples, Fla. — Past Processor of the Year Award winners didn't limit themselves to molding and plastics — they also touched on the presidential election, and gauged some early feelings of U.S. economic shakiness during a discussion at the Executive Forum.
“There's way too much uncertainty in the economy and there's a lack of direction from Washington. And it's hard to plan, and when it's hard to plan it's hard to invest,” said Brenan Riehl, president and CEO of GW Plastics Inc. based in Bethel, Vt. “There's just a lack of true direction.”
But Riehl said the U.S. economy is the strongest in the world right now.
“So if we can just unleash the entrepreneurialism in this country and let companies here do their job and get Congress out of the way, we'll be OK,” he said.
Jeremy Dworshak, research and development manager at Steinwall Inc. in Coon Rapids, Minn., said that smaller companies tend to notice economic slowdowns first, so some of the company's vendors are starting to see this, he said.
Forum moderator Don Loepp, the editor of Plastics News, asked Jeff Somple, the president of Mack Molding Co. in Arlington, Vt., to give his take on the economy. “It's an election year, No. 1. And it's also probably the strangest elections we've ever seen,” Somple said.
And Somple said the mergers and acquisitions spree makes business even more of a challenge. “All of a sudden, the relationships you have, you've started seeing changes,” he said. Pricing pressure heats up.
Somple also said some large customers are starting to include wording in contracts that Mack will share product liability costs.
“The contracts that are stuck in front of you are pretty onerous,” he said. Mack says no to these “company killers,” he said.