Last month, we pulled out the stops for our 50th Anniversary issue, in which we reviewed the 50 most important technical developments of the last half-century. This month, we look at what a difference four or five decades have made to a handful of custom processing companies.
The first of the four “Then & Now” profiles in this issue is one that stirs old memories for me. Back in 1973, as a 23-year-old assistant editor at Plastics Technology, I profiled an up-and-coming custom molder called Nylon Products. (That’s me at right interviewing then-sales manager Barry Potter.) The company consisted of one plant in a converted old mill in Clinton, Mass. Today, that company is the global mega-molder known as Nypro. It rode the waves of globalization, upstream and downstream integration, and industry consolidation to become nearly a $1-billion enterprise.
The winds of change have blown similarly for magazine publishing. At Plastics Technology, we have formed ventures with overseas partners, adopted radically new technologies (desktop publishing and the internet), and had our own taste of the merger/acquisitions binge. When it started back in 1955, Plastics Technology was part of a small, family-owned publishing company. That company was sold decades later to venture capitalists and then bought out by a huge European conglomerate. That may sound like a familiar story to some of you. But it didn’t end there for us: Fifty years after we started, we are back in the hands of a small, family-owned publisher. For us, this environment is nurturing and has spurred terrific growth.
When your company reaches its 50th birthday—if it hasn’t already—I hope it finds the right degree of bigness or smallness to thrive.