The editorial staff of Rubber & Plastics News was busy traveling during the last couple weeks of April, as were many of you during the industry's traditional spring travel season.
During that time I went to NAHAD's annual convention in Miami; Washington-based Reporter Miles Moore sat in at the Clemson University Tire Industry in Hilton Head, S.C.; Senior Reporter Mike McNulty covered the Polyurethane Manufacturers Association annual meeting in Charlotte, N.C.; and Managing Editor Don Detore was in Greenville, S.C., for the ACS Rubber Division spring meeting.
In addition, right after this issue went to press, Reporter Jennifer Karpus was headed for the Rubber Roller Group's annual meeting in Austin, Texas. The only staff member at our Akron offices throughout this time was Reporter Chris Sweeney, but he will be heading out later this month to visit a number of companies around the greater Detroit area.
Our reason for hitting the road is similar to most of yours: Despite the ease of communicating electronically across the globe these days, there really isn't any substitution for face-to-face interaction. We also are able to find out what's working and what's not at some of these meetings.
For example, while the Clemson tire meeting has never been one to attract huge numbers, it does have a core audience that keeps attendance consistent. Several people told Miles they like the variety of programming and the chance to meet people outside their own business niches.
ACS Rubber Division Chair Terry DeLapa said attendance was down for the technical group's spring meeting in Greenville, falling short of 200. She told Don the group needs at least 200 to make the spring session viable.
DeLapa said the division will study all options to make the spring meetings more attractive, including the venue, technical program and when the meetings are held. The 2016 spring gathering is a go for San Antonio, Texas, she said, noting that the Texas city, Akron and Louisville, Ky., are three locations that consistently draw about 250 for the meetings.
Mike reports that attendance at PMA was at an all-time high, and that membership in the organization is rising steadily. Urethane industry officials put a high emphasis on networking, but the conference program always gives members a chance to learn what key issues they face in the upcoming year, especially at the regulatory level.
At NAHAD, it's clearly a message of staying with a winning formula: Resort area plus ample time for the hose industry manufacturers and distributors to network equals a successful meeting. For the Miami meeting, that translated to another record attendance of more than 1,100.
Now it's time to stay put for awhile—until the next travel season begins.
Meyer is executive editor of Rubber & Plastics News. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @bmeyerRPN.