Aiming to raise the profile of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., President and Chief Executive Officer William Carteaux said SPI will form joint ventures and alliances with ``complementary associations and pertinent business units,'' promote higher safety standards in countries outside the United States, open offices in other countries and make sure that foreign trade agreements meet the needs of all its members.
Speaking at an opening day luncheon June 19 at NPE 2006 in Chicago, Carteaux said SPI will provide new and more-targeted information that helps companies in the plastics industry grow and deliver that data in a new way.
``We are in the information and knowledge business,'' he said. ``We want to make SPI more relevant, expand and increase the relevance of domestic plastics trade shows and expand into the global trade show market.''
Carteaux said SPI had talked with more than a dozen groups to explore the potential of mergers or alliances in its quest to be the ``one true voice'' of the industry. Years ago, SPI had an acrimonious split with some its members that led to the creation of the independent American Plastics Council.
``We must work together toward a common vision for our plastics industry,'' Carteaux said.
``We will extend and defend our core organization'' and add new programs and services to make members stronger. He pointed to the creation of SPI's public charity, the Future of Plastics Foundation, and its funding of the Innoventions exhibit about plastics at Epcot in Walt Disney World as just one example.
Carteaux also announced June 19 the development of what he called ``the next-generation search tool,'' NPE365, that will filter information from Internet searches for members and deliver them critical information customized to their needs - even when the member is offline and not actively searching. ``NPE365 will pull together the pieces of information most relevant.''
In an interview afterward, he said that sometime this fall, SPI will roll out mySPI to deliver information to members based on their key search words. That way, he said members can receive topic-specific information and not have to hunt through a variety of electronic newsletters to find the items of interest to them - whether government affairs, machinery, processing or international trade.
``We are competing on a global field, whether we like it or not, and it's not a level playing field,'' Carteaux said, pointing out, for example, that the Central American Free Trade Agreement was good for machinery makers and resin manufacturers, but not good for processors. He said SPI has worked with U.S. trade representatives to address that issue and is working to ensure that pacts being developed with Malaysia and Korea are good for all of SPI's members.
``We have to make sure that when products are brought into this country duty-free, that our products can enter their markets'' without being at an unfair disadvantage. He said, for example, that SPI is working with Congress on potential subsidies, given the unwillingness, at this point, of China to re-evaluate its currency. China is the third-largest export partner for plastics behind Canada and Mexico.
``It's no longer competing against the company across town or even in the next state,'' Carteaux said. ``It's ... competing against the startup half a world away. We need to leverage globalization to sustain the competitiveness and growth of our industry,'' which employs 1.3 million in 190,000 facilities in the U.S. alone.
``You will see a more open and agile SPI ... that is more responsive to your needs,'' he said, promising a revised governance and dues structure without elaborating.
He also promised that SPI will increase the industry's ``political capital and visibility'' at all levels of government and with regulatory agencies.
`We are at a vital point in our business,'' said Carteaux. ``Our industry is changing and we need to change along with it. While keeping an eye on our own market, we need to be aware of the changes in the global marketplace and learn how those changes will affect us.''