The holiday season often is used as a time to reflect, either patting yourself on the back for a job well done or trying to assess blame for a year that went wrong somewhere along the way.
But another-perhaps better-way to spend the weeks leading up to 2008 is to take a close look at your company and decide where it is your firm can find an edge to differentiate itself in the competitive world that is the rubber industry.
The stories in Rubber & Plastics News can serve as an ongoing snapshot of the rubber business. And sure, over the past year the pages of our publication-and in cyberspace on our Web site as well-have featured numerous stories of a negative nature. Price increases on every material imaginable. Imports continuing to take a larger share of the U.S. tire market to the detriment of domestic factories. Plants being shuttered because of work lost to off-shore operations.
But so too have there been many stories to inspire those who call the rubber industry home. There were automotive component suppliers-particularly those selling to the transplant auto makers-growing and thriving with vibrant domestic manufacturing operations. There have been numerous tales where tire production can continue to be viable in North America. And there are stories of entrepreneurs still willing to take the leap of faith and start up their own shops, for better or for worse.
Looking at these stories, it's clear that manufacturing-including rubber products-will continue to be a major part of the U.S. economy. The only constant, though, will continue to be change. Having an edge in technology doesn't mean that same edge will be there tomorrow.
So which kind of company will you be? One of the survivors willing to reinvent yourself and thrive in the ever-changing landscape of the rubber business. Or one of the firms left behind wondering what went wrong. Now is the time to decide.