The longtime president of the National Tooling & Machining Association was asked to step down Jan. 13 because board members said they are concerned about falling membership and revenues in the trade association.
Matt Coffey, who had been president of Fort Washington, Md.-based NTMA since 1985, was asked to resign during a board meeting, according to Coffey and board member Larry Sippy, president of Sipco Molding Technologies in Meadville, Pa.
NTMA is a key Washington trade group for the machine tooling industry, and its members include plastics mold makers. The group has been active in manufacturing policy debates in Washington, including pushing for a 2002 government review of the industry's international competitiveness.
While board members praised Coffey's experience and said they hope to retain him for some work, such as lobbying, they said a leadership change is needed. Both Sippy and NTMA Vice Chairman Dave Dysinger said the group has lost about half its membership in the past 10 years, and is down to about 1,700 member companies.
``The association has been underperforming for some time,'' said Dysinger, president of Dysinger Inc., a precision machining shop in Dayton, Ohio. ``If your trend is in the wrong direction long enough, you have to make a change.''
Dysinger said he applied lessons from his own business, which shrunk its staff from 116 in 1998 to 12 in 2002, before growing to about 33 now. While international competition and the economic downturn hurt, he said he blamed himself for letting the company become vulnerable.
He said NTMA is running a deficit in its operating budget and that the new leader will need to turn that around and boost membership. Dysinger said the group has healthy financial reserves.
Sippy, who was chairman of the group in 2003, said the board did not think Coffey was making changes fast enough.
``We've waited for a change in direction,'' Sippy said. ``Now we're going to change it ourselves.''
Sippy said the decision was a difficult one, because he has been on the board for six years and said the board liked Coffey. Dysinger said Coffey is ``an extraordinary person and a professional. It's unfortunate if this is all reflecting badly on him.''
Dysinger, who will take over as chairman at the group's February meeting, said NTMA plans to hire a new president and probably will do an executive search.
NTMA has a staff of 15 and an operating budget of about $3 million, Dysinger said. Coffey was paid $243,465 in 2003, according to NTMA's most recent financial filing with the Internal Revenue Service.
Coffey said in a Jan. 17 phone interview that he did not want to respond to Dysinger and Sippy's statements. He confirmed that he and NTMA are in talks about other work he could do for the group.
He said the group's executive board met Jan. 13 for his 2004 performance evaluation, and emerged asking him to resign, without offering him any specific reasons or giving him a performance evaluation.
Sippy confirmed that the board did not offer Coffey a specific reason for its decision, but said the board previously had asked for a change in direction.