New Age vs. Old School – Strategic Thinking for Specialty Film Development
I have been involved in Flexible Packaging and New Business Development strategic development since 1989. Back in the age of the first car phones (early nineties) many managerial practices were commonplace, and to my astonishment today, are actually still accepted as the norm for Film Extruder thinking. The biggest being – that a customer requesting resin specifications and percentages therein on any given film grades – to be the equivalent of demanding the film extruder’s monthly Operating Costs. If someone ever seriously requested the latter, it was, and still is, a deal breaker today – because it’s basically none of their business. It was, and still is, the red light to any further serious new business opportunity discussion. Every business has a right to protect their model, methods, and confidential financial information related to their Balance Sheet, or Operating Expenses. Thus, the Old School rule of keeping your resin recipes secret was born. The more pragmatic Old School justification for this secrecy being that the extruder would be forfeiting a competitive advantage to their competition for something that they had invested time and energy into – for nothing. Thus, this common sense and generally accepted approach still prevails in the vast majority of Flexible Packaging and Multi-Layered Barrier Converting Film extruders up until this very day. Still, just because it always was – doesn’t mean this will always be the given – for customers buying specialty plastic films.
The weather changes, and welcome to the new day of ‘sharing’ everything for free. Yes, welcome to the Age of Aquarius in internet platforms and polymer science technological Blogs. The new dawn has arrived, and like it or not, the biggest players (customers) in the specialty plastic film usage arena – don’t read old history books. They are young. They are bright. They are looking at yield, weight, sustainability factors, millennial behavior and buying trends. They don’t accept the Old School poly processing axiom taught in Old School poly film extrusion business text books. They believe in ‘leverage’ and see a much broader picture when looking at the ingredients of their proprietary NBD film project. They understand that resin companies value one thing, and one thing only, pounds of resin that they are selling to the extruder. The most highly respected denomination being in millions, not less. They also appreciate the fact that the manufacturers of these specialty resins – employ armies of very intelligent and well paid Polymer Scientists – to create and innovate – more profitable resin designs into their existing product mix. Thus, they want and ‘expect’ access. They ‘expect’ total collaboration and cooperation from – all business entities – associated with the creation of ‘their’ new baby. This includes the primary foundation for their project which is the resin itself – as well as – the capabilities of the extruder processing it.
To conclude, the history of leverage goes back to the Cave Man. Why shouldn’t the new age of technology and innovation be open to the company ultimately paying for it from a film extruder? If the film processor cannot go there – the New Age customer should simply go somewhere else – because the processors are all basically using the same machines to make these specialty films using resins bought from the same resin suppliers. Nothing is a secret anymore, but Old School Extrusion doesn’t want to think that way because it means that they are going to have to learn a new more open and transparent business language in order to survive. Everything is subject to the trends of New Age Film Development. Everything evolves as the market dictates.