This is the third week in a row that we've had a Hurricane Harvey-related story on Page 1. It's a big story. But it's not as bad as much of the business press is implying.
I've seen more than a few headlines that say the plastics industry has been crippled and investors should sell shares in some plastics companies. Calm down, everyone.
Remember, the United States has been exporting resin for a long time. It's one of the few U.S. manufacturing sectors with an actual trade surplus. Resin suppliers may be hamstrung, but they knew the storm was coming. They prepared, and most are already coming back online faster than expected.
We're keeping a close watch on the situation, including all the latest pricing moves, force majeure announcements and the status of transportation glitches.
Meanwhile, I'm impressed with the number of plastics companies that are lending a hand both with Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma relief.
One story that brightened my day: Vital Plastics Inc., a custom injection molder in Baldwin, Wis., is donating 45,000 toothbrushes for people who were affected by the two recent devastating hurricanes.
They're using this hashtag on social media: #doingoursmallpart. I think they're being modest.
Here's the story on how it came together.
"One of our core values focuses on sharing our success with our customers, community and our employees," said Scott Glor, Vital Plastics' business development manager. "In this case, a group questioned how we could help the hurricane relief effort. We figured evacuees would be more concerned for their safety and valuables and forget simple items like toothbrushes."
Tess Oral Health, a toothbrush maker in Eau Claire, Wis., is a Vital Plastics customer. So Glor contacted Rob Conner, Tess Oral Health's president, with an offer to join forces.
"Their reaction was very positive," Glor said. Tess Corp. was founded by a dentist in 1989 to make high-quality, value-priced toothbrushes in the United States and has helped supply product to global natural disaster relief organizations before.
In this case, the plan was for Vital Plastics to mold the toothbrushes, Tess Oral Health would bristle and package them, and Vital would have them shipped to a hurricane relief organization.
Avon Lake, Ohio-based material supplier PolyOne Corp. learned about the project and donated resin to make the brushes. It became a team effort.
The 110 workers at Vital were happy to be involved, Glor said. Some have relatives in Florida who had to evacuate in advance of Hurricane Irma.
The partners had some trouble finding an organization that had the space and distribution channels to handle such a large donation of product. But they did find one that guaranteed the donation would go to hurricane victims in Texas and Florida.
I am glad to share a nice story about the plastics industry wanting to help somehow, getting involved and working together to make a difference. Vital Plastics shared the story on its Facebook and LinkedIn pages, but I thought it needed a wider audience.
Loepp is editor of Plastics News and author of The Plastics Blog. Follow him on Twitter @donloepp.