COMPOSITES GROUP BOARD SEEKS MORE CLOUT

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WASHINGTON — The Composites Fabricators Association plans to eliminate its outside management firm and do all its own staffing, a move that the trade group's leaders see as a way to give them more control over its direction.

CFA also has decided to continue talks with the much-larger Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. on two fronts: a joint trade show with SPI's New York-based Composites Institute and broader cooperative ventures.

The McLean, Va., group's board decided at an April 14-15 board meeting in Washington that, starting Jan. 1, it will manage its own staff directly, said CFA President Patrick Money.

Unlike most trade groups, CFA hired another company — Association Management Group — to manage its day-to-day operations.

The board allowed staff to set too much of the group's direction, Money said.

``Now we're taking the reverse. We want the board to drive it,'' he said.

In 1995, CFA's board rejected a bid to end its management arrangement with AMG and establish the group as independent entity.

Money said AMG of McLean ``did a magnificent job'' in helping to build the 700-member composites association. CFA has used AMG since the former was founded 15 years ago.

CFA wants to ``maintain the staff and maintain the group'' and does not plan big changes, although it is too soon to say if all the employees will decide to stay with CFA, said Money, who is president of Compositives, a composites fabricator in Garrett, Ind.

He would not say how much the group paid the management firm, but he said CFA thinks it can ``at least break even'' in the change. The group has an annual budget of $1.7 million.

In other developments, CFA's leaders have decided to continue talking with Washington-based SPI, the Composites Institute and the International Cast Polymer Association in McLean about cooperative ventures.

One track has focused on holding a joint trade show with the Composites Institute or co-locating a show, he said. Discussions are continuing after CFA in January rejected an institute proposal for a three-year agreement, saying it instead favored a one-year pact for a show in 2000.

The second track has focused on other, unspecified cooperative ventures. Money said SPI President Larry Thomas and the Composites Institute's executive director, Catherine Randazzo, told him April 28 that they wanted to see if more cooperation is possible. But the structure of future talks has yet to be decided, according to Money.

Thomas declined to comment and Randazzo could not be reached.

The groups already cooperate on some ventures, including sharing some lobbying efforts and work on the Styrene Information and Research Center. ICPA and CFA also share a government relations staffer.