Some courtships are notable for their passion. Others, for their longevity.
The off-and-on-again merger talks between the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. and the American Plastics Council, both based in Washington, have a flavor of the former and a large dose of the latter.
This is not to say that is bad. It is best to fully understand and mutually agree on issues of concern before committing to a marriage. Only last month, for instance, after an extensive period of occasionally contentious discussions, both sides in the relationship broke off merger talks.
Reportedly, communications collapsed when the negotiating teams reached an impasse over the question of leadership for a combined organization.
SPI, which represents plastics processors, machinery makers and material suppliers, wants Larry Thomas, the group's current president, to fill that position. APC, reflecting a membership of resin suppliers, many of them huge corporate personalities, balked. Sources at SPI told Plastics News that APC's directors wanted the job left open for a player to be named later.
In the midst of this, of course, APC President Red Cavaney announced his resignation, effective Oct. 6. Cavaney accepted the top job at the larger and politically more visible American Petroleum Institute in Washington.
Since then, as reported last week, SPI's board of directors decided to resurrect the merger talks. Patrick Jack, the association's chairman, said a fresh negotiating team has been assembled, made up of the group's five officers representing processors, manufacturers and resin suppliers. APC's Cavaney has embraced the idea, providing everyone understands the intent is not to talk forever.
The foundation already exists for resumption of substantive discussion involving proposals to eliminate redundancy of administrative, technical and government affairs services. Other items make equally good sense, such as preserving APC's effective national ad campaign for plastics and the retention by SPI of several of its business units.
If the will exists by the disparate groups of suppliers, processors and equipment manufacturers within the plastics world to advance the industry and protect the franchise each depends on for their existence, a merger will take place. To reject that possibility is to engage in self-injury.
While such behavior is not rare, the disincentive in this case should be large and obvious enough to dissuade anyone from pursuing a different course of action.