Welcome to M. Holland’s 2021 Market Trends Podcast Series. At the end of every year, M. Holland’s market managers take time to reflect on the previous 12 months and anticipate the year to come. What drove their market segments? What can the industry expect to see in the coming months? Typically, we share these insights and predictions in a blog, but this year we decided that a podcast format is more fitting. Listen as these market managers give us an insider’s look at the plastics industry.
This episode is all about Electrical & Electronics, new to M. Holland in 2019. Last year, we predicted that the Electrical & Electronics market would be an emerging segment in 2020. Our Electrical & Electronics Market Manager, Carlos Aponte, joins us to share all about this market that he describes as tenacious and the ways it endured a year like none other.
Welcome to M. Holland’s 2021 Market Trends Podcast Series. At the end of every year, M. Holland’s market managers take time to reflect on the previous 12 months and anticipate the year to come. What drove their market segments? What can the industry expect to see in the coming months?
Typically, we share these insights and predictions in a blog, but this year we decided that a podcast format is more fitting. Listen over the next few weeks as these market managers give us an insider’s look at the plastics industry.
This episode is all about Electrical & Electronics, new to M. Holland in 2019. Last year, we predicted that the Electrical & Electronics market would be an emerging segment in 2020. Our E&E Market Manager, Carlos Aponte, joins us to share all about this market that he describes as tenacious and the ways it endured a year like none other.
So my name is Carlos Aponte. I’m the Market Manager of Electrical & Electronics. I’ve been in the industry for about 20 years. Most of that time has been spent in the E&E market space, Electrical & Electronics. I’ve been with M. Holland for three years and as Market Manager for the past year. So I just finished my first year as Market Manager for Electrical & Electronics.
And as you reflect on Electrical & Electronics in 2020, what stands out to you most as a key learning point?
2020, as you know, has been an interesting year. One thing I learned most about this market space, which includes computer equipment, consumer electronics, lighting, ties and connectors, telecom, and power — those are all sub-segments of the Electrical & Electronics market. But the one thing I’ve learned about this market space, especially during 2020, which has been interesting, to say the least: it’s not a cyclical business. We kind of maintain our business throughout the year. Automotive was a little bit down. Healthcare was a little bit up because of the nature of the pandemic.
But Electrical & Electronics was pretty steady. Where maybe some of those subsegments saw a little decline, some other subsegments actually improved during the pandemic. One good thing about this market space is it’s tenacious. It can kind of handle anything that’s thrown at it. These are very powerful products in the marketplace and they seem to weather any storm, whether it’s a pandemic, hurricanes or anything else. They seem to continue to move forward throughout the year.
Was there a materials application that really won the year for you?
There’s not necessarily one material that I noticed this year, or one application, or one product, this past year that was really super innovative or met the times that we were in. Electrical & Electronics products typically have a long gestation period. So, it takes a long time to get a lot of these applications and trial and regulatory requirements to bring the application to fruition.
So, I think some of the things that we saw developing in 2019: 5G in the telecom space really took off this year, despite the pandemic. This year, we’re starting to see some material innovation in lighting. So going forward, probably in 2021, we’ll see some of the work that we’re doing this year come to fruition next year.
One of the great things that I think we had a chance to do in 2020 is better align ourselves with our strategic partners, our strategic suppliers and our OEMs. And we really got to see a lot of the innovation that’s going on in this market space. We got to collaborate with them, probably a lot more than what we have in the past. And I think that’s something that we’ll take away from this year and continue to do next year.
That’s a great segue into our final question. From an Electrical & Electronics perspective, what are you most excited to see in 2021?
So, the material innovation that we saw in 2020, or we’re starting to see in 2020, and the collaboration that we’ve seen with our strategic suppliers, gives me the most hope for next year. And it gives a lot of our strategic OEMs, our custom molders, partners, just our industry in general, a lot of hope and a lot of great tools that we can use going forward.
I think another thing that we’re starting to see a little bit this year, and I think it’ll be very big in 2021, is reshoring. I’ve received a lot of phone calls, and a lot of questions and comments from some of our strategic clients, who’ve told us that they’re really thinking about bringing back a lot of the tools from overseas and then bringing them back to America. And reshoring is an interesting concept because through the pandemic, I think it helped make that decision for a lot of our strategic partners.
You know, there’s really about five good reasons to reshore some of your products and mostly it’s the total cost of ownership. I think OEMs, some of our partners, really want to take advantage of having those products here, where they could kind of be in charge of a lot of the quality concerns that are going on, help address those immediately. And sometimes with things overseas, you kind of lose a little bit of IP when, that’s some thousand miles away.
Ultimately, I think the U.S. consumer likes things that are made in America as well. So, reshoring kind of gets that stamp or that brand on it, and I think that’s helpful. Coupled with wage increases in Asia and transportation costs from overseas, like import fees, tariffs, especially during this pandemic, we’ve had a lot of late deliveries, some travel costs that OEMs really didn’t plan for.
Additionally, I think having that flexibility and the ability to make changes on the fly, bring products to market a lot sooner, I think will be most beneficial for the OEMs and for us to help partner in that. The great thing is our key strategic suppliers and our OEMs are on pretty much the same page here. They both want to innovate products locally and then disseminate that throughout the world globally.
Thank you, Carlos, for sharing all of your thoughts, and thank you for listening to our Market Trends Podcast Series. Continue to tune in and learn what 2020 meant and what 2021 will bring from markets including Healthcare, 3D Printing, Wire & Cable, Electrical & Electronics, Flexible Packaging, Rotational Molding, Color Compounding, Automotive and Sustainability. All episodes can be found on the News & Insights page on the M. Holland website. We’ll see you next time.