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Plastics Institute of America Inc. has some well-known new leadership and has signed an agreement with Boston-based Gillette Co. for a broad training program for machine operators, the first time PIA has undertaken such an effort.

PIA's new chairman, Angelo Firenze, said he wants the group to carve itself a niche in similar educational programs and to beef up its efforts as a clearinghouse linking companies and researchers. He also said PIA plans a small conference to solicit industry needs on training and education.

Firenze, who is also a board member of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., will serve with Chairman-elect Jay Gardiner, who is the immediate past president of the Society of Plastics Engineers Lowell, Mass.-based PIA announced the new officers May 14.

Firenze, who once was president of Dynisco Cos. in Sharon, Mass., is principal of Firenze Group, a consulting firm in Belmont, Mass. Gardiner is president of Gardiner Plastics in Port Jefferson, N.Y.

Michael Gigliotti, a technical management consultant for MGA Inc. in Gloucester, Mass., was named secretary; Paul Stahlberg, a director of Ohio Valley Plastics in Evansville, Ind., is the new treasurer.

The Gillette training program, involving as many as 150 employees, started May 1 at Gillette in Boston, and will be taught by faculty from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, said PIA Executive Director Aldo Crugnola. PIA, which is based at the university, acts as a broker to tailor the college courses to Gillette's needs, he said.

Each employee could have 120 hours of training. Classes will have 12-20 people and 13 training modules, and will include such topics as computer skills for diagnosis and tracking control circuits, engineering drawings, mold design and maintenance and metrics.

PIA said it is interested in doing similar programs elsewhere at the shop level and for engineers.

Crugnola said SPI officials have told him some of PIA's courses could be used in SPI's efforts to develop a certification program for machine operators.