BOSTON — GI Plastek's Steve Trapp's reaction to the feud between the American Plastics Council and the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. seemed typical of other attendees of the Structural Plastics '99 show in Boston.
``I'd personally like to see them live in harmony — it's not good to have the industry's largest groups competing,'' said Trapp, who is vice president for strategic business development for the Newburyport, Mass., injection and reaction injection molder. ``You've got some big egos on both sides.''
But when the dust settles, both groups will survive because molders and machinery firms will not leave SPI for the resin-industry-funded APC, and many resin firms will remain in SPI to be closer to their customers, he said. GI Plastek is a member of SPI, whose Structural Plastics Division organized the April 18-20 Boston event.
A Dow Chemical Co. official involved with the division said he worries less about political implications and more about whether the changes will mean losing contact with customers.
``Are we kind of segregating ourselves away from the customers? That would be my first reaction,'' said Peter Grelle, development leader for automotive technical services and development for Midland, Mich.-based Dow.
Dow belongs to SPI and APC, but some resin firms have left SPI recently, prompting APC to expand its mission and provide some of the same government and industry statistics work SPI does. That is throwing the formerly allied groups into competition.
Gary Deaton, marketing and manufacturing manager for mold builder and molder Minco Group in Dayton, Ohio, said APC has done a good job of communicating messages about plastics to the public, and SPI does well at communicating within the industry. But the feuding could hurt the industry's outreach, he said.
``All of this political crap disturbs me,'' Deaton said. ``They can't get past some political issues and work together. The impact that I am most concerned about is, I won't see the grass-roots efforts to educate the general public to the benefits of plastic and opportunity to improve the quality of life.''
George Lesenskyj, vice president of Mercer Molding Inc. in Lawrenceville, N.J., said,``To be honest with you, SPI is so old,'' he said. ``Somebody new coming in — I welcome fresh ideas.''
Mercer does injection molding and makes plastic lumber.
The SPI/APC split is not likely to have much impact on the Structural Plastics Division, said Harry George, chairman of the division and a senior technical marketing specialist for resin maker Bayer Corp. in Pittsburgh. Bayer is a member of both SPI and APC.
He said he was speaking personally, not for Bayer.
``From my little piece of it and this division, I think the strength of the industry is having all these people together,'' he said. ``We all feed off one another. [The split] only serves to fragment the industry — that's my view.''
The division has 58 members, a cross section of processors, resin producers, machinery and mold makers and consultants, he said. It is searching for a new executive director to replace Rich Gottwald, who is leaving SPI to head the Plastics Pipe Institute, which is setting up shop outside of SPI. Gottwald also had been executive director of PPI when it was part of SPI.
The division wants to put more emphasis on recruiting new members, George said.