Russ Broome has been coming to NPE trade shows since 1997, and Antecs since 1993. But at this year's show, he has a new role.
As senior director of business development for the Washington-based Plastics Industry Association — the organizer of the NPE trade shows — Broome is going to be on his toes all week.
"I am expecting the biggest and busiest NPE ever. Never have I seen so much enthusiasm in the industry and that momentum really started early last year," Broome said. "I haven't seen a noticeable drop off in attendance at other industry events as typical when leading up to an NPE."
Q: Do you have any good Antec/NPE memories to share?
Broome: My favorite Antec had to be in Boston during my year as president of the Society of Plastics Engineers — what a great city!
I have so many NPE memories as an attendee, an exhibitor and a partner. The LNP Engineering Plastics reunions are always a highlight, as well as the last evening in the Progressive Components booth. My favorite take away is a digital watch my dad won, which has inscribed on the back: CONOCO NPE '76
Q: What was your first NPE like?
Broome: Although I didn't realize it at the time, my favorite NPE was my first when my father showed me around the industry and I was hooked. We had fun in Chicago as well.
Q: You have a new role this time, after moving from SPE to PLASTICS. What's your main aim in coming to this year's show?
Broome: I have a whole new perspective this year as a part of the lean machine that pulls off this iconic event. I aim to work very hard, through the final hour, enabling our members, prospective members and partners to maximize their time in Orlando. I really enjoy having the opportunity to walk the show floor with students and young professionals new to the industry to assist in their grasping the enormity of all things plastics.
Q: How much time have you spent preparing for the show? What sort of prep work can you do for NPE?
Broome: I have been preparing for this in moderation since last fall but it has really ramped up in the last several weeks. I don't believe you can be overly prepared for something like NPE. I try to follow all the relevant news stories and social media announcements. I definitely take full advantage of the NPE Map Your Show App to coordinate my schedule so I don't miss a thing. Lastly, two new pairs of Samuel Hubbard shoes were ordered in March.
Q: What do you think a typical day at the show will be like for you?
Broome: Each day starts with a 6 a.m. shower, followed by breakfast on the way to pre-show happenings like the Tuesday Women's Connection Breakfast starting at 7 a.m. most days. Then the days fly by with back-to-back meetings at booths or meeting rooms spread across both the south and west halls of Orange County Convention Center.
I try to juggle most every dinner, reception, celebration and social that I am fortunate enough to be invited to. I typically log about 10 miles a day and therefore end up right where I started, in the shower around midnight. For some reason, I find myself falling asleep hearing a young Kevin Bacon in Animal House, "Thank you sir! May I have another?"
Q: How do you network, do you have a strategy?
Broome: I not only reach out ahead of time but I request specific times and locations to meet and then follow up with a calendar invite. I also resend the invite that morning to make sure it doesn't slip through the cracks.
Q: What do you think will be the main talking points at NPE this year?
Broome: Mergers and acquisitions seems to be alive and well in this industry. There is a lot going on in the packaging space around new technologies and sustainability thus making the Bottle Zone and Re|focus both hot spots for collaboration.
Q: What are you excited about seeing, or participating in?
Broome: Wow another loaded question! I am very excited about all the extras this year. The 2018 Hall of Fame Gala is at the top of the list, kicking off the week rubbing shoulders with the real who's who of plastics.
Anyone who knows me knows I have a real passion for the next generation of our industry, so I always get excited for the FLiP & Sip reception Monday afternoon and the Patsy Beall Student Awards Luncheon at Antec on Wednesday. The new Plastics Leadership Summit promises to be a great addition each morning as well.
Q: How will you gauge whether this show is successful?
Broome: It's no secret, the evidence of success has arrived early this year. NPE sold out increased net space in historic fashion this year while still having a long waiting list.
Attendee registration is considerably ahead of the 2015 pace. I'm sure after we wrap up, there will be many follow-up stories of record sales and deals made during this week in Orlando, especially with all the tax incentives in play.
Success will also mean that we really moved the needle with enabling the attending community with preserving the positive impact and image of the plastics industry with things like the ThisIsPlastics.com tunnel in the south hall.
Q: Do you do anything for fun at the show, or is it all work all the time?
Broome: All work and no play makes Russ a dull boy! Of course there is time for fun with such a huge network in town. I try my best to cross paths with as many of my peers from the past that I don't see very often. Pointe Orlando is a quick walk from OCCC and has so many great places to grab a drink and a bite with colleagues.