Plastics executive's motives questionable
William Patient (May 3 Perspective, Page 6) sounds more anti-plastic than Greenpeace. Patient obviously wants to prevent manufacturers of safer plastics from capturing the lucrative markets that vinyl makers are rapidly losing. As governments and global companies increasingly phase out the use of vinyl, polyolefin manufacturers stand to gain. Exactly a year ago Patient himself said that Geon would ``no longer focus only on vinyl-based products,'' an admission that the transition away from vinyl is forcing the company to hedge its bets. Others, such as Exxon and Dow, have moved much faster.
Customer companies like Nike, Baxter and the global toy industry are looking to the plastics industry to help them use safer materials. Industry leaders have begun to recognize that vinyl is an obsolete material in virtually every application. Plastics industry executives who guide their companies away from vinyl toward safer polymers are leading the industry out of a period of crisis management and molding a well-researched and developed product line.
Joseph Di Gangi
Irony of big mergers not lost on small firms
I have been involved in the interior trim business in Detroit since 1981, the majority of my career at Chivas Products Ltd.
From 1984-90, I managed a division of Chivas called Chivas Research Ltd. We were a contract development facility that did work solely for Fisher Body. We worked on a variety of applications including foam-in-place seating, exterior body side moldings, dielectric tear sealing for sidewall trim and, probably the most notable, the development and launch of the process now known as low-density structural reaction injection molding.
During the existence of Chivas Research, I saw the heads of General Motors Corp. decide that because they had split up their operations divisions into smaller, more manageable units, the same obviously must be done to their large components division — Fisher Body. So I then was doing work for Inland and for Fisher Guide, and then Inland Fisher Guide, then finally Delphi Interiors. At the same time we saw the spinoff of Elyria Seating, Packard Electric, Harrison Radiator and others.
Following their lead, it was not long before Chrysler Corp. sold Acustar, and Ford Motor Co. started dealing with or reorganizing Saline, Utica Trim, Chesterfield Trim and others.
By about 1992, it seemed that all we did was sit around and try and figure out how to compete in this arena of consolidation. The decision was finally made to sell the company, since we were not large enough and simply could not compete with the big boys. The rest is history. Joe Anderson bought two of the divisions of Chivas and my division was sold to Becker Group. After a short stint there I moved on to United Technologies Automotive for a year before taking over the company of one of my former suppliers.
Now to my point: It seems to me this all started with the idea that Fisher Body was too big. What the hell does everyone think has been created now? Lear Corp. is a $12 billion company now, Johnson Controls Inc. is about the same, and Magna International Inc. likewise. I can see it now. New young buyers trying to go out and find smaller, more efficient companies to do their work for them because Lear and JCI are too big and too expensive. ...
I just had to get that off my chest.
Paul A. Mallorey