Are We There Yet?

What’s the best description of our industry right now? From 30,000 feet above the tumultuous markets that have slid down (and in some cases, off) the economic Richter scale, let’s just say we’re in a mixed transition with improvement awaiting on the horizon.

The March 22–25 management meeting of the Assn. of Industrial Metallizers, Coaters & Laminators at the Hilton Torrey Pines in LaJolla, CA, gives perspective. While not its best-attended meeting, it attracted 59 member companies and a total of 112 people. Undoubtedly, some of the usual attendees simply conformed to directives they themselves may have imposed as a preventive measure in response to an economy gone awry. While word on the street continues to project a fourth quarter on the mend, at least a little pain is something each of us is feeling right now.

Despite a smaller attendance, nothing was lost on the quality of the AIMCAL meeting in terms of valuable content. Newsweek’s senior Washington correspondent and political columnist Howard Fineman shared his “View Inside Washington.” With a new administration occupying the White House, attendees were eager to hear his opinion. In short: Spending is a concern, but President Obama gets a B- rating; Michelle Obama gets an A+.

Bo Mitchell of 911 Consulting urged all to be ready for any emergency at any time. If not prepared, it doesn’t matter. Companies are libel anyway. Conclusion? Get plans in shape.

Michael Gates of Richard Lewis Communications shared observations on the underlying meanings of clients we may encounter in multicultural business settings. We may translate perfectly the words spoken, but do we understand? The conclusion: “Cultural interaction is a business process that must be managed—it cannot be left to chance!”

Raghu Das of IDTechEX opened his crystal ball to an audience champing at the bit for growth opportunities. Among them will be printed electronics products, thin film transistor circuits using new organic or inorganic materials for such products as displays, sensors, photovoltaics, batteries, and more. PCI’s Simon King summed up the relevance of alternative Asian and new Mexican supplies of BOPET and BOPP film: It’s an opportunity if you’re a film buyer, a threat if you’re a film producer or distributor. Want quality? Buy from local film producers.

But the presentation most eagerly anticipated was DuPont economist Robert Fry’s “Global Economic Update.” His T-shirt said it all: Don’t shoot the messenger. With nearly all his charts reflecting a downward trend, he identified when things may be looking up: when building permits turn up; stock prices rise; the spread between Baa corporate bonds and Treasuries narrow; TED spread falls below 75 bp; ISM new orders index turns up, then rises above 50; and consumer expectations and sentiments rise. We all might wonder: Are we there yet?

My friends call me…Yo.

Write to me at yolanda.simonsis@penton.com.


Subscribe to PFFC's EClips Newsletter