WASHINGTON — The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. should hold an annual trade show for processors and beef up statistics on the processing industry as a way to boost sagging membership and revenues, according to a key SPI official.
Sid Rains, an SPI board member and head of the new SPI business-development unit, stressed that no decisions have been made, but said he wants the organization strongly to consider annual processor-oriented shows.
Rains, who announced his retirement recently as vice president of sales for Van Dorn Demag Corp. in Strongsville, Ohio, will remain on the board of Washington-based SPI. He will serve as the chief board representative of the new SPI market-development wing, one of three divisions in a reorganized SPI.
Rains spoke in an interview outside SPI's board meeting, held May 19-21 in Arlington, Va.
The large trade shows SPI runs every 18 months — NPE and Plastics USA — are better-suited for machinery manufacturers and resin firms, and are too expensive for processors to have a significant presence, Rains said.
``Do processors, i.e, injection molding companies, have an ideal forum in size and reach to get to nonplastic companies?'' he said. ``It's obvious there is a gap there.''
Rains said there are redundant trade shows now, but if a new show were done right, it would ``explode into the vacuum.'' The annual show could occupy as much as 200,000 square feet and attract 1,000 processors, he said. The shows also could provide forums for mold makers and other underserved niches, he added.
SPI lately has suffered from the loss of some major resin makers after its merger talks with the resin-dominated American Plastics Council collapsed, and it has seen other business units, such as the Composites Institute, depart.
The society laid off about 10 percent of its staff in a cost-cutting move earlier this month, and said its budget probably will be down this year, after holding flat last year at about $30 million.
Offering processor trade shows and better statistics on the processing industry and beefing up processors' roles in standard setting would attract more processor members, he said.
``Why is it SPI has had such a difficult time appealing to processors?'' Rains asked.
SPI has 750-1,000 processor members, out of 15,000-20,000 total U.S. processors. SPI cut processor dues dramatically two years ago in a bid to boost membership.
The group's new organizational structure takes effect June 1, and Rains said he wants various SPI units, including a new council of processors, to review his proposal.
One complicating factor for Rains' proposal is that the SPI employee pegged to be the chief staff person of the business-development effort — Pat Toner, vice president of technical affairs — was laid off. Rains said SPI has not filled the position yet.