The American Chemistry Council Inc.'s new president and chief executive officer, Greg Lebedev, has a full plate in front of him, including plant security and terrorism, shoring up the industry's poor standing in public opinion and dealing with a shrinking surplus in the chemical industry's international trade.
Lebedev, who was tapped Aug. 28 to head the ACC, may want to add another challenge - shepherding the merger of ACC with the American Plastics Council.
Lebedev, who is a top executive at the Chamber of Commerce, brings a diverse resume to the group, including two stints as a deputy assistant secretary of state in Republican administrations and time spent directing reconstruction projects in Kuwait after the Persian Gulf War.
But from a plastics perspective, some sources suggest he will have to address another construction project - concerns in some quarters that the much-anticipated merger between APC and ACC has not gone entirely to plan.
``Not everybody is comfortable that the merger has gone as smoothly or efficiently as we had hoped,'' said one senior official familiar with both groups, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ``There is some frustration.''
ACC Vice President Susan Moore said the merger has yielded about $12 million in savings, in a total ACC budget of $140 million, and it has met its objectives thus far. But she said the group has not accomplished all it wants from the merger, which became operational in January.
``Recognizing that a merger is a process and not an event, we are still in the process of deriving all the benefits,'' she said. ``It often takes several years to accomplish the goals of a merger.''
One source said the pace of merger implementation may have been hindered by the ``lame duck'' status of current ACC President and CEO Fred Webber, who announced in December that he would step down after 10 years on the job.
ACC has trimmed 41 jobs in the merger, and now has about 300 employees in all its units. ACC is in Arlington, Va.
Before tapping Lebedev, several sources said ACC was in serious but ultimately unsuccessful talks to recruit former Clinton administration Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman to take over the group.
One challenge for Lebedev will be addressing desires in the chemical industry to improve its standing in public opinion, as APC has done with its high-profile advertising campaign.
ACC market research has shown that the public considers the chemical industry ``troubled,'' only slightly more favorable than it rates the nuclear-power and managed-care industries. In response, one ACC leader, Jeff Lipton, the president and CEO of Nova Chemicals Corp., is advocating a $40 million-per-year ad campaign to tout the industry.
ACC officials said they still are evaluating options, but could launch their campaign in 2004. They will have to do that, however, without Moore, a longtime APC senior staffer who had headed up the group's ad campaign. She announced Aug. 23 that she is stepping down to take a position as vice president of corporate communications with Lyondell Chemical Co. in Houston.
ACC officials did not disclose what they will pay Lebedev. Webber made $651,000 in salary and $163,000 in other compensation in 2000, the last year for which figures are available. Lebedev, in his current post as chamber chief operating officer and executive vice president, made $411,000 in salary and $59,000 in benefits in 2000.
Before joining the chamber in 1998, Lebedev was a senior vice president of American Trucking Associations Inc. in Alexandria, Va.