A Promising Future for Forward-thinking Firms

The true mark of a trade show’s success is take-away value—the amount of practical tips, informative news and insightful perspective attendees can apply when they return to their offices.

Using that barometer, COMPOSITES 2011 was a triumph. Composites professionals representing the industry’s full range of market segments came with specific missions, and thanks to the event’s wide variety of education, networking and new products on display, they left Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with money-making solutions and applicable ideas.

Now that the conference is in the rear-view mirror, here are six things COMPOSITES 2011 revealed to us; keep them in mind as the industry moves into the future:

The industry’s diversity is dynamic. The recent recession meant that many companies entered new markets and diversified their product lines. COMPOSITES 2011 was a show filled with niches and new opportunities—wind energy, infrastructure/corrosion, international business and many other growth markets.

The future looks promising for forward-thinking firms. Norman Timmins, vice president of consulting for Lucintel, spoke during a General Session about how last year began a rebound for several segments of the industry. He reported that the global composite market reached $17.7 billion in 2010, an increase of 10.3 percent from the previous year. The global composite materials market is forecasted to grow 7.8 percent this year, he said.

Companies that embrace “green” practices and offer “green” products are positioned for growth. In 2007, Crane Composites didn’t have a “green” strategy, nor did it track any data needed to estimate how much money it could save by becoming more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. Today, the company’s multifaceted environmental initiative will save the company $1.8 million by 2012, said Julie Keith, vice president of customer care for the Channahon, Ill.-based composite manufacturer, during “Lowering the Operations Environment Footprint,” one of many green-focused educational sessions at COMPOSITES 2011. Crane Composites has also reduced VOC emissions by 95 percent, scrap by 36 percent and landfill waste by 6 million pounds.