For the U.S. plastics machinery industry — as well as the entire plastics industry — 2018 was highlighted by the tough task of trying to figure out international trade wars, myriad tariffs and the rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
As always, President Donald Trump was in the news, for the trade skirmishes as well as for a sweeping tax reform that kicked off 2018 and sparked investment in machinery. The immediate 100 percent write-off for capital machinery purchases was the big incentive. Now, officials in the machinery sector will be watching how long its impact lasts.
Add in the lowest U.S. unemployment rate in 50 years and 2018 shaped up to be a strong year, but one facing challenges of future growth.
There were a few major deals. Platinum Equity bought Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. for nearly $3.85 billion from Berkshire Partners LLC and the private equity arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System.
Davis-Standard LLC bought Brampton Engineering Inc. The deal, coming three years after DS acquired Gloucester Engineering Co., cemented the company's place as a major force in blow film equipment.
Two Japanese injection molding machinery companies made big investments in U.S. manufacturing in 2018. Nissei Plastic Industrial Co. Ltd. dedicated its first U.S. injection press assembly plant in Texas. And Ube Machinery Inc. announced an expansion of its headquarters factory in Michigan.
May was the busiest month, mainly because of NPE2018 in Orlando, Fla.
Sadly, 2018 also saw several machinery leaders pass away, including Siebolt Hettinga, Charlie Sears and Kevin Chudyk.
Here are major events of 2018, from the pages of Plastics News: