Despite the current economic problems affecting the converting industry, converting machinery and materials manufacturers are predicting a surprising 7% growth in the year 2000 for the $79-billion-plus U.S. converting marketplace.

According to a recent survey conducted by Exhibit Surveys, Inc., and sponsored by Miller Freeman, Inc., the world’s largest trade show producer, dozens of global manufacturers and suppliers are generally optimistic about sales increasing in the new millennium. Several of the respondents predicted double-digit growth, while only one manufacturer forecast a negative growth of -3%.

Millennium Challenges

For many converting suppliers, the new year will present several challenges that will impact the converting industry. Of those challenges identified, 27% of the respondents named the growing trend of mergers and consolidations, evident in every major industry in the United States, as their number-one concern.

Following close behind was “a weakening economy,” mentioned by 24% of the respondents. Twenty-one percent said the need to hire and train good quality workers was important. Twenty-one percent were also concerned with the need to keep up with the constantly improving technology. Only 3% of the respondents cited competition from new sources as the greatest challenge facing them in the new millennium.

CMM Asia a Good Indicator

A good indicator of the optimistic predictions for the U.S. converting industry is the recent success of CMM Asia/Corrugated Asia in November 1999, in Singapore. Taking advantage of the upswing in the Asian economy, 3,567 executives, top managers, technicians and operators from around the world visited the show.

The success of the show is a result of both an Asian economy that has strongly rebounded over the past several months, and the fact that Asia’s converting and corrugating industries continue their fast-paced growth. “Economists are in agreement that Asia’s return to economic growth is very optimistic,” explained Leo Nadolske, vice president of MFI Manufacturing Division and panel leader for the session, “Envision Your Future in Southeast Asia,” at the show. Nadolske pointed out that the forecast is also impressive for the overall Asian manufacturing sector, where industry experts are predicting a 10% yearly growth — findings that bode very well for the converting and corrugating industries.

The industry survey, based on a questionnaire sent to more than 700 converting-machinery and materials manufacturers worldwide, asked which trade show respondents would attend to see the latest in converting equipment. CMM International was revealed as the preferred show. The next CMM Asia/Corrugated Asia will take place at the Singapore Expo, November 2001.