(From the Aug. 8, 2011, issue of Rubber & Plastics News)
AKRON—Rubber & Plastics News has reported on many timely and influential stories during the past 40 years. One of the most significant was a trade mission the publication sponsored to China.
You might think that with all the stories in recent years about China, the dramatic growth of the tire and rubber industries there is a relatively recent phenomenon.
But if you look into the annals of Rubber & Plastics News you will come across a series of articles 30 years ago that predicted what we are seeing today.
It was in 1981 that then Editor and Publisher Ernie Zielasko, my father, led the RPN-sponsored rubber trade technical mission to the People's Republic of China in cooperation with China Technical Delegations Inc., a San Francisco firm that specialized in setting up trade missions to China.
The trip took place just three years after the U.S. had re-established diplomatic ties with China after decades of political estrangement.
Having traveled to China twice myself in recent years, I know what an exciting and vibrant place it is. The growth in business and industry there is phenomenal.
I also know that while lots of the old ways remain, today China is home to some of the most modern and exciting cities in the world as well as some of the most technically advanced manufacturing operations.
I can only imagine what it might have been like to visit China three decades ago when none of what we know today existed.
Even though China was just starting to consider its role as a manufacturing and economic powerhouse, RPN recognized its potential to become a dominant player in the tire and rubber industries.
And to serve its readers better, the publication needed to go there to see first hand what that potential might be.
An editorial in the May 25, 1981, issue predicted what has become a reality:
“The People's Republic of China represents an unbelievably large future market for the world rubber industry. If the estimated 1 billion people living in China ever reach the point where they can buy private cars instead of bicycles, the potential market becomes staggering in proportions.”
The editorial added that whether that time will ever come remains to be seen, but certainly it's 20 to 30 or more years away.
It also pointed out that China, at the time, was plagued with financial problems, with the government suffering from heavy budgetary deficits and a lack of foreign-exchange currency. Even so, “the nation seems dedicated to modernization.”
I am amazed at how accurate this prediction turned out to be and to the vision that led RPN to China early on.
That's the type of timely, informative reporting RPN offers its readers.
It's been that way for 40 years, symbolized by RPN's trade mission and coverage of China's tire and rubber industry 30 years ago.
Dave Zielasko is the publisher of Rubber & Plastics News.