Latin American rotational molders need trade group representation, and now, the Association of Rotational Molders International is forming a unit for that market.
The new group had a preliminary meeting at ARM International's annual fall meeting, held Sept. 18-21 in Rosemont.
Officials said the needs of Latin American molders cannot be addressed by a trade group based in the United States. Working with a union and hiring a lawyer can mean different things in different countries. The Latin American market is wholly different, a region dominated by the open-flame machine whose key end product is tanks.
The Latin American water tank market is fiercely competitive, and molders hesitate to share technical data. Therein lies the Catch 22 - ARM International is an open group whose members are willing to share information. So there's a need to teach companies that it's safe to share, because they will get so much more in return, officials said.
Officials also are reaching out to suppliers. By tapping resin companies, mold makers and machinery makers, officials hope to increase the list of potential members.
Suppliers played a key role last year as ARM established the South Asia Region Division in India, said Ravi Mehra, past ARM president. That division already is profitable, with 62 member companies. It will hold its second annual trade show Feb. 15-16 in New Delhi, India.
ARM International is looking for a candidate who can act as the Latin American representative, someone fluent in Spanish, Portugese and English, with a connection to the plastics industry.
During the meeting, ARM loosely formed a 15-member advisory committee. That committee will be voted on at the spring meeting April 2-5 in Cancun, Mexico. As a guideline, the group will be staffed by five representatives each from Mexico and Brazil, and five from other countries in the region.
Rotomolders and suppliers will have to work together to make the group happen, officials said during the nearly four-hour meeting, attended by roughly 35 people.
``We have to work together; we have to do the work,'' said Conchita Miranda, general manager of Miraplastek SA de CV in Aguascalientes, Mexico, and an ARM board member.
The goals for the group will be set by the Latin American companies, officials said, and technology will play a crucial role. For the South Asia division, e-mail was a critical connector. Representatives from India meet via electronic conference and have a goal to meet face-to-face twice a year.
The new Latin American group is part of ARM's effort to have more of an international presence while not alienating its domestic membership. ARM deliberately has established its spring meeting in Cancun, said Jeff Arnold, ARM's executive director and chief executive officer.
ARM, like any other business, has to manage its growth and goals in a global market. Some 45 percent of the group's membership now is made up of international companies.
As part of its growing international base, ARM also had to come up with an equitable dues structure. The group relies on the World Bank Index, which classifies every country by per capita income. Each company is evaluated based on where its headquarters is located.
``We had to do a balancing act that would be fair,'' said Dave Mulligan, president of Roto Plastics Corp. in Adrian, Mich., and past ARM president.
The Latin American division has seemed a long way off for some molders. One official said Latin American rotomolders were disheartened after nothing came of meetings and discussions in 2002.
``We Latin Americans got very discouraged,'' said Chiry Vassallo, chief executive of Vassallo Industries Inc. of Coto Laurel, Puerto Rico. ``But now I see a new rebirth with this new leg of the ARM association. If everybody puts their minds to it, we can accomplish a lot.''