WASHINGTON — One of the larger members of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. — Exxon Chemical Co. — is pulling out of the organization, arguing that the Washington-based trade group no longer is capable of representing the resin industry.
That action comes as merger talks have been called off between SPI and the American Plastics Council — an organization funded largely by resin suppliers and to which Exxon belongs.
Sources said Exxon's resignation letter made no reference to the stalled merger talks, and said Exxon is pulling out of Washington-based SPI because the trade association has membership that is too broad and cannot focus on issues of importance to the firm.
Exxon spokeswoman Charlotte Howard said pulling out of SPI had nothing to do with the merger talks.
Exxon told SPI earlier in August that it would not be renewing its membership, said SPI spokesman Ron Bruner. Dues are confidential, but members pay a maximum of $164,000 in core dues plus extra fees to business units they choose to join, he said. SPI's budget is about $30 million.
SPI Chairman Patrick Jack and President Larry Thomas could not be reached before deadline.
Howard said the firm withdrew because ``our business interests are best served by membership in other trade associations such as [Chemical Manufacturers Association], APC and [Chlorine Chemistry Council].''
SPI Vice Chairman Harry Ussery said Exxon's resignation letter said it believes ``SPI has too broad of a constituency ... to focus on issues of importance'' to the company. ``They are trying to limit their trade dollars to associations that better serve them.They are saying they felt this way for quite some time.''
SPI has diverse membership from resin suppliers such as Exxon, processors and machinery manufacturers, and recently has been on a campaign to reduce processors' dues and boost membership from that segment. APC, by contrast, has a much narrower structure.
Exxon has put a lot of ``sweat equity'' into SPI and its employees serve on key committees, Ussery said.
Exxon's announcement comes as SPI-APC merger talks have stalled.
``The merger talks were called off by the APC team,'' Ussery said. ``We've written to them to try to get them to change their minds and continue discussions.''
Ussery, who heads SPI's negotiating team, declined to say why the talks broke off a few weeks ago.
``We're hopeful we could get started again,'' he said.
APC President Red Cavaney said the position SPI negotiators conveyed ``didn't square'' with what many APC firms understood the position to be. SPI called off a July 7 session, and APC is waiting for it to restart talks, he said.