I love plastics guys. Perhaps it's because of where I'm from -- Akron, Ohio. By the time the world of business had entered my consciousness, Akron was well in the throes of what would become a decade-long identity crisis.
Just months before I joined the staff of industry publication Tire Business as a reporter, Goodyear had fought off a greenmail attack by Sir James Goldsmith. Little did I know that that event would be the beginning of the end for tire production in Akron and our city as the Rubber Capital of the World.
One after the other, Akron tire giants fell to foreign ownership and the eventual departure to cities of better weather. General Tire to Continental AG, the combined Uniroyal and BFGoodrich to Michelin, and Firestone to Bridgestone.
The void that was left hasn't entirely been filled, but the plastics industry has done the best job of any other to take a position of prominence in our rubber-stained city.
During that time, I jumped ship as well, joining the editorial group that would launch the first plastics industry weekly newspaper -- Plastics News. As assistant managing editor of the publication from 1989 to 1995, I immersed myself in all things plastic.
I particularly enjoyed our work every three years in Chicago, when Plastics News would go full throttle to publish a daily newspaper during the huge U.S. plastics tradeshow NPE.
And so, here I am, 20 years and 1 month after the launch of Plastics News preparing to speak to the industry at NPE 2009. Ironically, this trip brings me full circle in more than one way. At the time I joined Crain Communications right after college, I viewed my stint at Tire Business as a short-term gig where I'd learn how to be a better writer before getting into my true area of interest -- public relations.
Little did I know that I'd spend 10 years in trade publishing, and then leverage that experience to help launch a PR-related business (web design and search engine optimization) to serve companies in the plastics and rubber industries. After leaving Crain in 1995, I spent my first week on the job at the Plastics USA tradeshow (at that time, the smaller sibling of NPE). I handed out diskettes that would help companies set up their first Internet connection and talked about how to get e-mail and why to develop a web site.
My how things have changed! And yet, how much they stay the same. I look forward to seeing many old friends in June and, perhaps, making some new ones. See you at NPE!
View info on my SEO speech for NPE 2009.