Will NPE2015 Challenge NPE2000 In Size?

With a little over five months until the show opens, NPE2015 is inching closer to matching the year 2000 edition—the largest ever NPE in terms of exhibit space.


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Brad Williams, director of trade show marketing and sales at NPE organizer SPI, told Plastics Technology during a early October interview that the SPI’s internal numbers clocked NPE2000 at 1,041,000 net square feet of exhibits, while NPE2015 has currently booked 995,000 net square feet of exhibit space. That leaves approximately 50,000 net square feet of space left on the exhibit floor, with “plenty of sales activity still happening,” Williams said.


“We are wall bound,” Williams added, noting that the Orange County Convention Center isn’t suited for temporary, exterior exhibits, “but we do feel good about the prospect of a show the same size as NPE2000.”


From that high-water mark in 2000, NPE experienced contraction for three straight show cycles, albeit the 2009 event’s decline came along with the global economy’s fall in the midst of the Great Recession. The swine flu pandemic didn’t help, either.


In 2012, SPI inaugurated a new locale with renewed growth for its triennial event, and NPE2015 looks to maintain that momentum, and in some ways, recalibrate the global plastics industry’s focus.


As part of an NPE feature in our upcoming November issue, which kicks off Plastics Technology’s NPE coverage, I spoke with Peter Smith, CEO of additives supplier Addivant. Fully independent of its former owner, Chemtura, as of 2013, Smith noted that Addivant sees NPE2015 as being important for his company and the global plastics processing industry.


“Chinaplas, over the last decade, has grown to be so large that it was where all the action was,” Smith said. “I think what we’re going to see now is a balance. I don’t think China is going to disappear, by any means, but I think North America will come back in such a major way that it will be the go-to location for the next generation of equipment. It will be the go-to location for the next generation of polymers, and therefore, if you’re in the business of processing polymers, there won’t be a better location than NPE.”


New Spaces Pique Exhibitor Interest
Addivant isn’t alone in that assessment, with Williams running through various programs, which were new to the show in 2012 or will be come March, that are drawing major interest from exhibitors.


Back in 2012, SPI kicked off its Customer Service Centers program for major additives and materials suppliers, with six signing up for conference space off the OCCC show floor to conduct one-on-one’s with key accounts.


For NPE2015, Williams said 12 companies have already signed up, with a total of 15 projected to be offered by the time the show rolls around. That dozen contains some of the most recognizable names in plastics production, including:   


  • Dow Chemical
  • DSM
  • DuPont
  • Eastman Chemical
  • ExxonMobil Chemical
  • LyondellBasell


Williams also added that many other material and additive suppliers, including more household names like BASF, SABIC and 3M, will be at show as well, opting for a traditional booth space.


New to the Orlando showfloor in 2015 will be the IDSA-sponsored Design Center and NPE3D, both of which have already been expanded due to demand. When I spoke with Williams, 11 of the 15 spaces in the Design Center were occupied, while NPE3D has already signed up 18 exhibitors, with around eight spaces left.


The Super Bowl of Plastics
I began work in plastics publishing in 2000, just a few months after the massive NPE2000 was held at McCormick Place in Chicago. My veteran colleagues at the time described the triennial event as the Super Bowl of Plastics, a fitting moniker given the size/U.S. influence. I—no kidding—mistook the show edition of that publication for a phone book.


Intervening shows contracted along with the domestic plastics industry, but both are suddenly resurgent, and I for one think NPE2015 could kick off something big for the show and the sector.