As the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. continues its soul-searching for ways to involve more plastics companies in the trade organization, the group's Western Regional Office already has made some personnel changes toward that end. Earlier this year, the office hired Mike Godwin as sales and marketing manger, and Patty Ross as member relations coordinator.
They replaced Margo Minecki, who specialized in public relations. She was let go in December after joining the regional office 18 months earlier from SPI's Washington headquarters.
Ross's job is to assist in the community involvement effort of the Western Region, including the new Plastics Education Program.
PEP is ``really taking off,'' said Ross. ``It not only provides an opportunity for the kids in schools to get a fun and interesting education on plastics, but it also gives them an idea for careers with the industry in the future.''
Godwin's position is new within the SPI.
``It's a uniquely created title and job description that's ... geared 100 percent toward acquiring membership,'' Godwin said.
He said there are three primary factors driving this new hard-sell approach. First, the industry's composition is changing.
``SPI was originally made up of the pioneers that founded the family business in the 1940s and 1950s,'' Godwin explained. ``Now those companies are in the hands of second- and third-generation college-trained owners.''
Also, downsizing and acquisitions have changed the face of the plastics industry.
``It's a different kind of ownership,'' Godwin said. ``Several plastics companies are now foreign-owned and their agenda is bottom-line, so they're looking at membership in trade organizations in terms of the cost-effectiveness [and] return on investment,'' he said.
``There's a need for greater industry participation. If SPI is the voice of industry - and it is - then it needs to be the voice of 90 percent of the industry, not the minority,'' Godwin said. ``Building and maintaining the voice of the industry can't be done casually. We have to go at it seriously.''
Godwin said SPI is seeking new, concrete ways to provide benefits to members, such as the recently announced energy consortium that allows Southern California members to take advantage of reduced energy rates.
``This means that a company can recoup its dues in a matter of weeks just given what it saves on electricity,'' Godwin said.
Godwin said finding out what is wanted and needed by people in industry is a constant challenge. So far though, he's had some success: 14 new companies have signed up.