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“Most Powerful Man in Polyethylene” Sees Flat-to-Downward Pricing

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6. June 2016

Great to get an update from RTI’s Burns on PE and note his bringing home the gold medal from a world bench press championship.

 

I have made several industry friends through my years of reporting for Plastics Technology but none that ever won a gold medal until now! Mike Burns, v.p. of client services for PE at Resin Technology, Inc. (RTi) has been my go-to guy for PE market updates for several years.

 

I know some things about Mike’s family, his musical tastes (he’s crazy about “The Boss”), and that he takes good care of his body in terms of good food and running. But, it wasn’t until earlier this year that he told me about his weight lifting and the significant and constant training that he has put into it for three decades. And, we joked about his colleagues referring to him as “the most powerful man in PE”.

 

Well, two weeks ago at the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) World Bench Press Championships in Potchefstroom, South Africa, Mike grabbed the gold medal. The event was the first “raw” championship hosted by the IPF, whereby competitors were not allowed to use equipment such as bench compression shirts to assist in making their lifts.

 

Mike was part of the U.S. National men’s team which finished second to Japan in the 50-59 age group and won the overall gold medal for the championship. Mike bench-pressed 386 pounds on his final lift, beating the number-one ranked Nakazawa Tadafumi of Japan in the 205-pound class. My PT colleagues and I salute Mike for this terrific win, and will rally for him at next year’s event in Killeen, Texas, to which Tadafumi assured Mike through his translator he’ll be at.

 

Meanwhile, here are a couple of takeaways from Mike's PE update:

 

• Expect the April 4ȼ/lb increase to stay put through this month and maybe the next as suppliers will work hard to maintain any increases achieved. As such, a “buy as needed” strategy is advisable. Mike notes that processors’ inventories have largely returned to normal.

 

• PE inventories are expected to improve both because the planned maintenance outages are being completed and because there is global oversupply. U.S. exports increasingly will be challenged by lower-priced Asian exports in places like Latin America. This could tip the supply scale the other way.

 

• Expect PE prices to be on a flat-to-down trajectory, possibly for the remainder of the year, barring major supply disruptions.

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