BOCA RATON, FLA. — The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s Machinery Division has again decided to broaden its invitation list, and invite a third SPI division to join its annual spring conference next year. This year's event, held May 7-10 at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, included members of the SPI Moldmakers Division and attracted about 240 attendees, including spouses. The group's next spring meeting — to be held May 6-9, 2001, at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. — also will include members of SPI's Molders Division and is expected to attract 300-350 attendees.
This convergence of meeting activity is no coincidence, given that Walt Bishop, longtime director of the Machinery Division, now has assumed management responsibility for the Moldmakers and Molders divisions as well. He long has been a proponent of bringing all three groups together into a single, larger event, and has convinced the division's leaders to give it a try.
"I had been pushing this for a while," he said in an interview at the recent Boca Raton event.
The three divisions will keep their resources separate and will retain their separate working committees and board meetings, but should realize economies of scale by sharing SPI conference-planning staff. They also will use their bigger attendee numbers to cut better deals with host hotels, and to attract a strong speaker program, Bishop explained.
"Our main focus now is to increase the mold-maker and molder presence" at these meetings, Bishop said. He added that, by keeping the events separate before, "SPI failed to recognize the importance of developing relationships" between these various elements of the plastics molding supply chain.
He also noted that "the molders have played an integral role in developing machinery [safety] standards" — always one of the key topics of discussion at Machinery Division meetings.
The Molders Division has about 190 company members, the Machinery Division 180 members, and Moldmakers about 110 members, Bishop said.
One Molders Division executive is very pleased with the joint initiative. Philip Clemens, president of National Plastics Corp. in Fort Wayne, Ind., attended the Boca Raton meeting as an observer, and expects all parties will benefit by combining their spring-meeting activities.
"I thought when [Bishop] proposed it, it made a lot of sense," Clemens said. "I'm certainly going to push it. I see the value."
Meanwhile, the Machinery Division also is cooperating with another SPI unit for its Fall 2000 Economic Forecasting Conference, scheduled for the historic Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee on Sept. 19. The division's Committee on Equipment Statistics holds its annual meeting on Sept. 18, followed by the conference the next day.
The division will team up with SPI's International Trade Advisory Committee to jointly host a dinner that Tuesday evening. ITAC then meets the following morning at the same location, and will host a tour of the nearby Harley-Davidson motorcycle factory on the afternoon of Sept. 20.
One need not be an SPI or ITAC member to attend the ITAC portion of the meeting. Interested parties should contact SPI's Lori Anderson in Washington at (202) 974-5281 or e-mail [email protected] plas.org.