The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. should stay the course in its effort to attract more processor members.
Plastics News reporter Steve Toloken learned recently that SPI membership slipped slightly in the three months following its move to reduce dues and attract more processors.
The number must have been disheartening. The dues cut already has the potential to put a crimp in SPI's budget — losing members just makes it worse.
Certainly one event that hurt Washington-based SPI in the past year has been the defection by some members of the Composites Institute to the rival Composites Fabricators Association. SPI's dues cut, and, in fact, a broader restructuring plan, were designed to retain and attract members like those now-departed composites firms. The timing of their defection was unfortunate, though their decision may have been inevitable. The best hope now is that SPI's CI and the CFA will continue to talk, work together, and perhaps start on a road to reconciliation.
More important to SPI, however, is to continue on its controversial path toward a strong union with the American Plastics Council.
We recognize that APC has taken important steps to include SPI and the Society of Plastics Engineers in its mission. But the work that APC does — changing public attitudes about plastics — simply is too important to leave only in the hands of resin suppliers.
If SPI didn't exist today, no doubt someone would try to create it. The industry needs a voice — one that brings together all companies, large and small, suppliers and customers.
Still, lower dues by itself will not solve all of SPI's problems. We support the association's effort to make itself stronger by restructuring, which should make SPI's business units more attractive to potential members, including processors. Because if the association does not provide benefits to its members, then companies will not support it with their time and money.