- September 01, 2006, By David J. Bentley Jr. Contributing Editor
In the packaging world, China seems to be a common scapegoat. Indeed, this is true not only for packaging but for many other industries as well. When it comes to problems that relate to labor, raw materials, and cost, point to China.
People see China as receiving extraordinary benefits from its large pool of labor that is satisfied with low wages, its cost advantages from manufacturing plants that do not need to meet safety and environmental requirements, and other such items peculiar to this country.
Let's suppose China could change all the characteristics of its country to which people around the globe attribute their problems. Who would we blame then?
Perhaps India would rise to the role of popular whipping boy. That country already takes considerable blame for much of the job loss due to outsourcing overseas. So we could simply shift responsibility to India for the additional difficulties to which we currently make China answerable.
Actually, there are many other directions in which we can point with blame for problems that impact packaging.
Governments with all their taxation and all those regulations certainly contribute to some of the difficulties.
Competitors make good targets to blame, sometimes because their novel ideas for packaging might have patent protection.
Closer to home, some people working in the packaging industry might blame their company management for failing to provide a satisfactory work environment.
All the factors listed above, as well as many others that did not receive mention, could be singled out — sometimes legitimately — for blame by anyone experiencing troubles in business today.
In fact, in the final analysis, each individual can blame only himself.
Perhaps not for causing or even contributing to the root problem but for not taking responsibility for the solution.
Consider a few examples. A plastic film coated with a heat-sealable material may not be enjoying good sales results because its price is higher than the item offered by a competitor. Perhaps the reason is that the machine operator expends sufficient effort to ensure that the coating machine runs at 100% efficiency and capacity. Generation of excessive scrap due to poor coating weight control, improperly wound rolls, etc., readily can cause a high price.
Suppose a competitor markets an extrusion coating resin that provides excellent bond strength and good resistance characteristics. Rather than blame the competitor because he is taking your business, busy yourself with a developmental program to make a resin that would have all the same advantages but include an additional one, such as the ability to require only half the amount of material.
When it proves impossible for you to develop a new or improved material for some reason, try a different tack. Offer superior service and technical support to current and potential customers in an effort to take business from a competitor. Offer to help them solve a particularly difficult and persistent problem.
In other words, never place blame on someone else for lack of business in the converting and packaging industry. Take the bull by the horns yourself and do whatever is necessary to retain or obtain business.
David J. Bentley Jr. is a recognized industry expert in polymers, laminations, and coatings with more than 30 years of experience in R&D and technical service. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.