Continuing a strategy it initiated two years ago, the Association of Rotational Molders International has added a third geographic division, giving ARM operating units that cover what executive director and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Arnold calls ``a good portion of the emerging world.''
The central and Eastern European division, created April 13, will represent ARM members in 21 countries including Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovenia and Austria - all strong areas of rotational molding growth, with Poland having the most rotomolders. Just six months ago, ARM formed a Latin American division. Its south Asia region division was formed in June 2004.
``They all fit together, and it is part of a bigger picture,'' Arnold said. ``Eastern Europe is growing, just like Southeast Asia and Latin America. These are people who have approached us'' to become part of ARM.
``Having membership integrated on a global basis is ultimately beneficial to all our members,'' Arnold said. ``The whole industry is trying to come up with new applications. There will be an exchange of ideas within the group and strength by uniting'' with other ARM members worldwide. ``The ability to share what they are working on - both in applications and in education - will help all.''
Arnold said Marek Szostak, professor of plastics at Poznan University of Technology in Poznan, Poland, was elected chairman of the operating committee. The division will hold a conference June 7 in Poznan to make a list of companies to target for membership and to set other goals.
Currently, 15 member companies are on the central and Eastern European operating committee; all are already ARM members. Arnold believes the unit can have 50-100 companies.
He said central and Eastern European division members want to have a student design competition, as the south Asian division did, and to do more in educational and technical areas because of the strong relationship between schools and manufacturers in the region.
The central and Eastern European unit emerged after ARM board member Nick Henwood - managing director of Matrix Polymers Ltd. in Northampton, England - persuaded a group of rotomolders and suppliers looking to form their own association to join forces with ARM. Austin Campbell, a consultant with CAPS International Group Sp.zo.o in Poznan, will be central and Eastern Europe division manager.
Poland, in particular, has been a hotbed of industry growth. Matrix, Titan Environmental Inc. of Forest Lake, Minn., and Bonar Plastics Inc. of Ridgefield, Wash. - all ARM members - have opened plants in that country recently, said Arnold. Poland has the lure of a democratic, stable government and hourly labor costs that typically are 25 cents lower than in Western Europe.
ARM also said it recently named Flavio Froes Dolabela to serve as representative to the Latin American division, headquartered in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. A veteran of the plastics industry, Dolabela is fluent in English, Portuguese and Spanish.
Oak Brook, Ill.-based ARM has more than 400 members in 60 countries. The south Asian division has 62 members and the Latin American division, 18.