Frustrated in part by a lack of success in merging the American Plastics Council with the American Chemistry Council, Huntsman Corp. plans to leave the ACC.
Huntsman, one of the largest chemical makers in the United States, cited other factors more prominently in its decision to pull out of ACC, including what it considers as the trade group's ineffectiveness in pushing a political agenda in Washington to address soaring natural gas prices. But trouble in the APC merger was a factor, Huntsman officials said.
The decision means that Huntsman, also a longtime member of the Arlington, Va.-based American Plastics Council, will leave the plastics group as well. The resignation is effective at the end of the year.
Huntsman, based in Salt Lake City, said in its June 30 resignation letter that it also was bothered that ACC did not act aggressively to fight attempts to ban the gasoline additive MTBE. It said ACC's diverse membership makes it too hard for the group to respond quickly.
``We're not getting a sufficient return on investment for the $2+ million in dues we're paying,'' said Huntsman spokesman Don Olsen. ``We need an association that can immediately put resources into a problem and not worry about having to get consensus of such a diversity of membership.''
Olsen said that the savings that had been promised by the merger of APC into the larger ACC in 2002 have not materialized.
``One of the reasons that we pushed for the merger is we expected there would be savings in both cost and efficiency, and that has not happened,'' Olsen said.
He said the industry has been in a difficult economic climate for at least three years, and Huntsman has reduced its North American work force by 20 percent. But the trade association has not made similar cuts, he said.
Olsen, who has been involved extensively in APC's ad campaign, said Huntsman's decision was not driven by any issues with that. ACC, also based in Arlington, may start its own program and roll the APC effort into it.
ACC spokesman Morrie Goodman declined to address the specifics of Huntsman's letter, but said ACC hopes to remain partners with the company.
``The Huntsman family and the Huntsman company have made incalculable contributions to the industry,'' he said. ``These are hard economic times for the industry - not just our industry, but most industries. There's a lot of frustration out there.
``Whatever the concerns of Huntsman, we'll continue to work with them,'' Goodman said.
Olsen said the company made the decision on its own, but he hinted Huntsman is not alone in its frustration: ``We have heard rumblings and we have heard that others are not happy.''