Gardner Takes Over NPE Dailies: A Changing of the Guard?

There may be an important changing of the guard at NPE2018, which will take place in Orlando, Florida May 7-11, 2018.

The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) announced yesterday that Gardner Business Media, publisher of Plastics Technology, MoldMaking Technology and other media, will be the official publisher of the NPE2018 Show Daily.

That will end a 27-year run for Crain’s Plastics News, which first published a show daily in competition with Modern Plastics in 1991, and then exclusively since 2000.

The change is interesting because PLASTICS (formerly the Society of the Plastics Industry) is a conservative organization that does not make changes lightly.

No one could claim that the show daily was wrested from Plastics News because of poor performance. Its show dailies both for the NPE and the K fairs were of consistently high quality, featuring excellent, fresh reporting by a very good editorial staff. And content was timely. Modern Plastics, the longtime industry leader, had gotten fat and lazy, often preprinting large sections of early show announcements.

It seems that Gardner put forth a first-class bid centered on its breadth of technical reporting and expertise as well as its experience in publishing a show daily at the giant IMTS show at McCormick Place. Its flagship plastics publication, Plastics Technology, has consistently emphasized technical and product news with excellent interpretation by industry mavens. That may be a better fit for many of the equipment exhibitors at the NPE. The focus at Plastics News was often corporate or business news, and not product news.

The PLASTICS official announcement hints at that.

PLASTICS President & CEO William R. Carteaux said: “We look forward to seeing how Gardner uses its technical expertise to capture the spirit of the show, and the spirit of the industry, in new and exciting ways with their singular vision for the show’s print and digital media.”

Rick Kline, Jr., president of Gardner Business Media, said: “We are very excited to be partnering with the PLASTICS team to deliver a one-of-a-kind Show Daily to the attendees of NPE2018. Gardner has a strong commitment to the plastics industry and to American manufacturing as a whole, and we look forward to highlighting the amazing technology and new products that exhibitors will have on display at the show.”

Don Loepp, the longtime head of editorial at Plastics News, provided this statement to The Molding Blog: “Plastics industry readers know we excel at covering NPE, we’ve been doing it since 1991 and we’ll do it again in 2018…Our dailies, at NPE and other trade shows, have eight times been honored with Azbee awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. That’s a competition where we go up against the best editorial work from all business-to-business journalism, not just the plastics industry. Even though we won’t be doing daily print issues at NPE2018, we’re already planning to cover the show the same way we always have, with a full editorial team and lots of digital products including breaking news stories and video.”

Jim Callari, editorial director and associate publisher of Plastics Technology, provided this comment to The Molding Blog: “Throughout its 64-year history, Plastics Technology has focused its editorial efforts on delivering unparalleled coverage of new technology—and how it can be deployed at plastics processing plants. The NPE Show Daily will bring that editorial expertise to attendees of NPE2018. Plastics Technology has assembled a powerhouse team of highly experienced editors who know the technology developments that are important to processors inside out. What’s more, as part of Gardner, we will also be tapping into the editorial know-how of sister brands MoldMaking Technology, Composites World, Automotive Design & Production, AutoBeat Daily, and Additive Manufacturing to provide complete coverage of all new technologies that will be exhibited. Gardner is no stranger to show dailies, having produced and delivered the IMTS Show Daily since 1994 for AMT-The Association for Manufacturing Technology. As part of our arrangement with PLASTICS, Gardner will also produce a half-day Additive Manufacturing workshop tentatively scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.” 

It’s not clear what all the issues were that factored into the decision to change NPE show publishers.

PLASTICS wanted the dailies to be branded as NPE dailies. Gardner agreed to that. It’s probable that some type of revenue sharing was involved.

Whatever, it’s an important change. First of all because it’s close to a million-dollar business. Also, it establishes significant exposure and credibility for the publisher. Modern Plastics was clearly the industry media leader when it published the show daily. That flipped to Plastics News by 2000.

Is Gardner now the plastics industry media leader? Maybe. I remember 17 years ago when Plastics Technology was an orphan ditched by VNU, which had purchased it from a private equity group.  Rick Kline took a flyer on PT as a way to hedge against continuing declines in the machine tool industry. Then he added Moldmaking Technology, composites publishing assets, industry conferences, and beefed up the editorial staff with a particular focus on improving digital properties.

It’s not clear if this development will have any bearing on who publishes the English K Show daily—another gem taken over by Plastics News when Modern Plastics collapsed.

Loepp comments: “The 2019 K Fair is more than two years away; it’s early in the planning process to discuss that project. But we will be doing show dailies at Fakuma in Germany and Plastimagen in Mexico later this year. This is the second time we’ve done dailies at Plastimagen, which are entirely in Spanish.”


About Doug Smock

Former Chief Editor at Plastics World and Senior Technical Editor Design News
Injection Molding

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