After the furious pace of mergers, acquisitions, and other corporate upheavals of the past decade, you’d think one more change would hardly raise an eyebrow. But it made me stop and think for a moment when I heard that the venerable Van Dorn name was no more, finally submerged into the Demag Plastics Group (see story on p. 61). To me—and probably to a lot of long-time Van Dorn customers—it was the passing of one more “classic” American name in plastics machinery.
Don’t get me wrong. I have no quarrel with internationalization of the plastics industry. (I didn’t even bat an eye when “Ferromatik” replaced “Cincinnati” in the Milacron brand.) The globalization trend has brought our readers a wider range of choices, the cross-fertilization of technologies from around the world, and lower prices from overseas competition. I keep having to explain this to financial analysts unfamiliar with this industry, who call up and ask me whether all the buying and merging has consolidated the machinery business into fewer hands. Next time one of them calls, I’ll cite these facts:
Prompted by the news about Van Dorn, I pulled out of my bookshelf our NPE Show Guides from 1982 and 2003. I counted 34 exhibitors of injection presses two decades ago versus 50 last year. The 1982 exhibitors included 15 names that no longer exist or no longer sell injection machines: Besides Van Dorn, they included Farrel, Impco, Lester, Natco, New Britain, Reed-Prentice, Simplomatic, and Stokes.
Last year’s exhibitors of injection presses included 24 suppliers that that did not exist or were not active in the U.S. back in 1982. Names like Chen Hsong, Chuan Lih Fa, Dassett, Dima, Fortune, Fu Chun Shin, Haitian, Himaco, LG International, L.K. Machinery, Lien Fa, Meiki, Mitsubishi, Netstal, New Pacific, Plastic Metal, Presma, Sandretto, Sodick, Steca, Sumitomo, and Vistar.
So things change. Players come and go. Enough nostalgia—back to work.