Michael Cappelletti praised the Society of Engineers' staff for hard work during tough economic times, in his final Antec speech as SPE executive director.
Cappelletti, 60, announced his decision to retire at the end of this year, during a speech May 5, the first day of the society's Annual Technical Conference. He told the executive committee and other SPE leaders on the weekend just before Antec 2003 in Nashville.
``I want to tell you all that this will be my last time I have the pleasure to address the SPE members at the Antec business luncheon. I've submitted my retirement intentions to the SPE board of directors, to be effective Dec. 31, 2003. I'm very happy they accepted,'' Cappelletti said in his speech.
There was no immediate word on the process that leaders of SPE will use to seek a new executive director of the organization in Brookfield, Conn., which had 21,237 members at the end of 2002.
Cappelletti joined SPE in 1984 as finance and administrative director, and became executive director in 1995. SPE had named him interim director in 1994, when Eugene De Michele resigned after just one year in the top post. De Michele had replaced longtime executive director Robert Forger, who retired.
Interviewed after his speech, Cappelletti said he enjoys working at SPE, but is ready to retire. ``I just want to spend more time at home,'' he said, adding that his hobbies include fishing and hunting. He also said he is getting tired of the travel required as executive director.
Cappelletti is not the only SPE veteran to retire this year. Nashville also marked the final Antec for James Toner, promotion and customer relations director. The last work day for Toner, 62, is July 31. He started working at SPE in 1983, the year before Cappelletti was hired.
In Nashville, Cappelletti delivered a characteristically blunt, plain-spoken speech.
SPE's overall membership shrank last year, he said, but European membership climbed 29 percent. SPE signed an alliance with the British Plastics Federation. He held up the first issue of Plastics Engineering Europe.
Cappelletti congratulated SPE staffers for launching the magazine under tight financial constraints.
``The last few years, every [SPE] business manager has worked with financial issues. I can tell you that many of us had to relearn a very forgotten basic - that business is war. It's just plain war. Fighting to keep cash coming into the checkbook is essential,'' he said.
In the past several years, SPE has had to cut some things, such as a worker-certification effort. He said SPE's staff has made some ``hard, gut-wrenching decisions.''
Cappelletti said this is not an easy time to run a business, or a trade association.
``Regrettably, in today's business climate, it's muddled with scandals and bankruptcies and a stock market that won't heal, and an economy that is stagnant. Corporate failures. Two-plus million manufacturing jobs that just about evaporated. To say nothing of the wars - the war that's just, hopefully, over, and threats of war around the globe and SARS on top of that. It's more difficult and messier than it's ever been,'' he said. ``The solutions will be messy, also. The trick is to keep the business alive. To keep the SPE dream alive.''
He has faith the economy will grow again. ``Business pressures will ease. Managing will once again become rewarding, not the heavy burden as in recent times.''
After his speech, he received a brief standing ovation.