Horacio Lobo, president of Mexico's National Association for the Plastics Industry (Anipac), has plans for the 42-year-old association.
``We want an Anipac that is oriented toward service, that consults with its members and fights for more representation in government,'' he said. ``We need an Anipac that is a leader.''
Lobo, of consulting firm Negocios Especializados (which means Specialized Businesses), became president last year, but has been involved with the association for 20 years. He is an established figure in rotational molding, and he advises companies on starting businesses.
Currently, the association has 450 members, which is just 10 percent of the 4,500 plastics companies in Mexico.
``However, these are the 10 percent that represent 90 percent - that is, they are the largest and major companies, from all the different sectors,'' Lobo said.
They are primarily companies from the area around Mexico City and the center of the country.
``Anipac now wants to be national,'' he said.
Lobo explained that each independent industry chamber -such as Canacintra, a national chamber for manufacturers, and Caintra, the Nuevo LeÃ³n state chamber - has its own plastics sector with a slightly differing vision and focus. Until about eight years ago, companies by law were obliged to register with industry chambers, making the latter very powerful.
Now Anipac is working on better communication with companies in other major industrial regions, namely Monterrey and Guadalajara.
``In recent months we have held two meetings in Monterrey, with 35 members, and plan to keep up the momentum, organizing events, conferences, meetings and socializing,'' Lobo said.
He said meetings have been held with the heads of plastics in industry chambers, seeking common objectives, such as solving resin supply shortages.
Lobo is not the only new face at Anipac, although the new director, Alfredo LÃ³pez Machorro, also has a history with the association, having been president about 18 years ago.
``We are very happy to have Alfredo with us, with his expertise in institutional relations and the fact that he knows everyone,'' Lobo said.
The latest development is a pilot program with the Economic Ministry called Compite (Compete), consisting of in-depth studies to give companies advice on modernization. Lobo said at least 20 companies, mainly from the Mexico City area, will be the first to participate.
One of the results will be confidential advice, such as ``you could export this'' or ``you should modernize here,'' Lobo said.
Anipac also recently joined a program called Avance (Advance), run by the National Science and Technology Council. Companies developing new products or technology can request financing through the project.
Globalization, and in particular competition from China, are important issues to processors in Mexico, he said.
``These are alarm lights, warning us that we have to get a move on internal training, and overcome the old problem of inertia. There are plastics companies in Mexico that have been doing the same old thing for 20 years, with the same old energy-consuming machines.''
Shortly after his March 9 inauguration as Anipac president, Lobo spoke strongly in favor of reforming Mexico's energy sector to allow private investment, which he said was needed to achieve annual growth of 5-7 percent and generate 8,000 jobs per year during the next 15 years in the plastics industry.
He pointed out that annual plastics consumption in Mexico is about 110 pounds per person, while in developed countries, per capita consumption is up to 440 pounds per year, showing that there is great potential for the Mexican market.
He reiterated the message in a recent interview: ``We need more investment in petrochemicals, instead of sending crude for export, and need to convince senators and other lawmakers to start considering petrochemicals a priority area.''