WASHINGTON — In a shot aimed at peeling away members from the largest unit of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., the outgoing leader of the Composites Institute is urging CI members to defect to the rival Composites Fabricators Association.
The March 30 statement from outgoing CI Chairman Robert DeRoma envisions CFA becoming the composite industry's chief trade group, and calls for expanding CFA's regulatory and market development functions and creating a unified industry trade show in October, two years ahead of an earlier agreement between CI and CFA.
``This will allow us to consolidate our strengths, as well as our assets, and create one powerful and unified organization focusing specifically on issues affecting our industry,'' DeRoma said. CFA officials sanctioned the statement issued by DeRoma and the outgoing CI board of directors.
Officials with CI and its parent organization, SPI, said they would continue to work with CFA leaders. The groups have worked together on regulatory issues.
``We have no idea how many companies will respond to'' the appeal from the outgoing CI officials, said SPI President Larry Thomas. ``Our sense is the vast majority of members will continue to support CI.''
The statement from outgoing CI members ends uncertainty about whether they would form a new group. The renegade CI leaders had not talked specifically about what actions they would take since announcing earlier this month they wanted to leave SPI.
The statement comes after weeks of fighting between the former CI leaders, who argued that SPI was ineffective, and SPI leaders, who maintained that their group had the most to offer in business and lobbying services. Both SPI and outgoing CI leaders maintained they are better-positioned to deal with the industry's increasing regulatory challenges on clean air and styrene emissions.
It was not immediately clear how many of CI's 400 members would join CFA's 700-member organization, but SPI officials have said two-thirds of CI members also belong to other SPI units and may be reluctant to leave.
The statement from the outgoing CI board has support from 10 of 11 board members. Ashland Chemical Co. officials said they are no longer part of the board.
However, CI members who voted in a poll earlier this month had been evenly divided on the question of staying in CI and SPI.
Of the 148 CI members who voted, 66 said they wanted to form a new group, eight favored joining CFA and 74 voted to remain in SPI and CI.
SPI will continue CI, and will nominate new directors and hold a CI summit meeting on maintaining the group, the letter said. It will maintain the same programs and staff, and will not cut programs or staff, CI officials said.
The SPI Western Composites Institute, a related organization, voted March 13 to remain in SPI.
The statement from the former CI leaders and CFA said CFA will expand its staff and seek alliances with the other groups, and invited CI groups like the Market Development Alliance, SMC Automotive Alliance and Pultrusion Council to join CFA.
``We welcome the opportunity to expand our umbrella to encompass the complete needs of the composites industry,'' CFA President Fred Dierks said in the statement.
Dierks and DeRoma could not be reached for comment.