At the two-day trade fair for the plastics and rubber industry in the Benelux that took place this week in Veldhoven, the Netherlands, the mood was decidedly mixed. Among the toolmakers, there was a general feeling of elation: the books were full and the orders were still coming in.
Rising prices in the Far East and in some cases, problems with quality and communication, were driving customers back to Europe. However, for the smaller design agencies, molders, and equipment suppliers, business is not strong although better than a year ago.
Many of the small and medium-sized business in this industry are wrestling with the problem of cash flow and delinquent payment behavior, which they can obviously ill afford. Poor payment practices have become widespread throughout the sector and are impacting heavily on the ability of many of these businesses to remain healthy....