The Association of Rotational Molders International has hired an outside management group to run ARM in an attempt to boost membership - primarily in the United States. The move means that Jeff Arnold, the group's executive director for the past five years, will step aside shortly.
A board member said the change will help ARM provide more value and better educational services to its members. Another source said the move will help the organization save money.
CM Services Inc. of Glen Ellyn, Ill., will run ARM, with Rick Church, president of CM Services, serving as temporary management liaison between ARM and CM Services. CM Services provides association management for 12 other groups including the Plastic Piping Education Foundation and the Thermoset Resin Formulators Association.
The change - announced April 25 by ARM and effective immediately - was made by the four-person executive board at the ARM spring meeting in Las Vegas the week before. Arnold will stay for up to two months to help with the transition. He came to ARM from the Chicago-based Association of Equipment Manufacturers, where he was administration director.
Church said he hopes to have a new executive director on board within the next few weeks. He said that CM Services is evaluating the structure needed to accomplish ARM's objectives and that it is ``possible'' that some members of the current three-person staff could be retained.
``We are looking for a different direction and for continuous improvement in the products and services we provide our members,'' said board Vice President Daven Claerbout, who is also co-owner and sales director of Dutchland Plastics Corp., a rotational molder and blow molder headquartered in Oostburg, Wis.
``We want to bring more value to the members in terms of education and get members to share benchmarking best practices in rotomolding,'' he said. ``The goal is to get members more involved, give them specific direction and hold them accountable to perform tasks'' for ARM.
``We want to tap into our members as a volunteer base for ARM and use our members more efficiently,'' said Claerbout. ``CM will be like a project manager that will hold us responsible.''
Church said the focus of ARM activities will be technical education and networking, particularly through its annual fall forum. He also said there will be regional technical education workshops, as well as online educational programs.
``Education and networking will be the real focus and the way we will deliver real value to the members,'' said Church. In addition, the organization's quarterly print newsletter will become a monthly online newsletter and ARM will provide ``more regular communication'' to members on industry information.
ARM headquarters will move to CRM offices from Oak Brook, Ill., at the end of May. Board members said the move is no reflection on Arnold and denied that a budgetary crunch prompted the switch.
Arnold declined to comment. However, others suggested the change is, in all likelihood, a financial move that will enable ARM to capitalize and use centralized accounting, exhibition and convention services through CRM. ``The budget has always been tough to balance,'' said a source who requested anonymity.
Under Arnold, ARM has expanded internationally the past three years, creating a southern Asia division, a Latin American division and a central and Eastern European division. About 100 of its roughly 400 members are in those three divisions.
``We need to increase our membership,'' Claerbout said. ``We need membership growth, primarily in the United States, as well as continued growth internationally.'' The market for rotomolded products has been shrinking because of inroads made by lower-cost injection molded products.
Claerbout said the board had been debating the change since February. Prior to that, Arnold had said he was exploring not a merger, but a partnership with the Washington-based Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. to enhance the relationship between the two plastics groups.
In a statement, ARM board Chairman Corey Claussen said the board believes CM has the ``staff expertise, flexibility and leadership, along with economies of scale that will permit ARM International to remain the world's leading association for rotomolders.''