Canada's major plastics associations have a chance to improve representation of diverse interests in the far-flung country. They recently agreed to merge into a stronger entity called the Canadian Plastics Industry Association in January. Nonmember companies and splinter associations will wait and see if they can benefit from joining CPIA. In the past, some felt their interests were ignored by the Society of the Plastics Industry of Canada, the Environment and Plastics Institute of Canada and the Canadian Plastics Institute.
Shortage of staff is a simple and valid reason the three associations had difficulty addressing all industry concerns. But the new CPIA will be able to marshal greater resources and take a big step in solving this problem.
Equally important to the solution is an attitude shift among association executives.
CPIA must be seen as sensitive to regional and sectoral needs before currently miffed parties will sign up. Here, too, the future looks good.
Industry leaders publicly are expressing a new willingness to accommodate diversity.
Take creative ideas directly to consumer
Clothing styles change with the seasons, but designers of longer-lasting products such as homes and automobiles can't afford to be daring. Most tend to want proven, familiar products - not Edsels or Gremlins, nor homes built from plastic foam or recycled newspapers.
Because most home designers and builders take a conservative approach, plastics companies with innovative ideas frequently have a hard time bringing them to the marketplace.
It's a frustrating situation to build what you believe is a better mousetrap and then watch the crowd bypass your idea for the same old, same old.
According to a recent study, firms with novel new products in the home construction industry focus too much of their attention on trying to win the support of builders and contractors, and not enough effort on the ultimate consumers: home buyers. According to Battelle Polymer Center, projects like concept homes don't provide enough pull for new technology because they are aimed at builders.
The Columbus, Ohio-based industrial research organization has a point. Concept homes alone won't popularize injection molded plastic shingles, concrete-core foam walls or plastic lumber decks. Plastics firms with construction innovations should not neglect the influence of builders and designers.
But innovators proceed at their own risk if they ignore the power of home buyers.