ORLANDO, FLA. — The Society of Plastics Engineers finally has reversed its membership slide, SPE officials learned at Antec 2000. "Membership, at the end of the 1999 year, was higher than at the beginning of the year, and that has not occurred since 1994," said William A. Humphrey, SPE's president for 1999-2000.
According to SPE's 1999 annual report, paid membership reached 29,524 at the end of 1999, up from 29,003 at the end of 1998.
Membership in the Brookfield, Conn.-based professional society peaked at about 38,000 in the mid-1980s.
Humphrey and Michael Cappelletti, SPE's executive director, outlined the membership turnaround during a May 8 business lunch at the SPE Annual Technical Conference in Orlando.
Humphrey, who turned the presidency over to James Brackeen during Antec, said the challenge of recruiting and retaining members is a major issue at local SPE chapters.
Cappelletti called 1999 a "financial disappointment" for SPE. "But on the positive side, we have reversed the declining membership. This declining membership has been plaguing the entire society. Every society or trade association has been facing this problem," he said.
To improve SPE finances, the association plans to emphasize its strengths — especially educational products — and to study activities with an eye to return on investment, Cappelletti said.
SPE wants to become "significantly relevant" to its members and nonmembers both, he said.
Brackeen, in his business luncheon speech, said: "SPE can no longer depend on cost-cutting. It must come from new revenue."
He detailed a new SPE strategic plan that emphasizes measuring and quantifying results.
Brackeen is the Houston-based senior vice president for business development at ECOutlook.com, which he said is an applications service provider for business-to-business commerce over the Internet.
Humphrey is president of R.C. Molding Inc., a custom injection molder in Greer, S.C.