Few topics have roiled the plastics industry more in recent months than the quality problems related to recalls of millions of China-made products. The recalls stirred vigorous debate about outsourcing, quality control, corporate accountability, product design, legal liability and supply chain management practices.
Plastics News plans to tackle those issues at its upcoming Executive Forum 2008, set for March 9-12 in Tampa, Fla., with three presenters who have extensive experience in China-related sourcing, quality and legal matters.
Jim Walter is senior vice president for worldwide quality assurance at El Segundo, Calif.-based toy maker Mattel Inc., which in recent months has recalled millions of China-made toys. The firm owns and operates 10 plants worldwide, including eight in Asia and two in Mexico. Mattel runs five plants plus a pair of tooling facilities and a safety lab in China, and employs - directly and indirectly, via manufacturing partners - upwards of 60,000-80,000 factory workers on the mainland at any one time.
The company took the lead more than a decade ago in voluntarily drafting a set of ethical principles and a corporate code of conduct for its operations worldwide. Even so, its recent experiences underscore some of the risks facing all firms involved in global manufacturing.
Walter will offer his views on global sourcing and quality-assurance challenges, and share some of the lessons learned in the past year. He then will join in a panel discussion on the topic.
Other panelists will be Jeremy Haft, president and founder of outsourcing consultant BChinaB Inc. of Washington and Dan Harris, a partner with Seattle law firm Harris & Moure PLLC and author of the popular ChinaLawBlog.com online forum. Haft has extensive plastics industry experience, some of which he recounts in his recent book, All the Tea in China: How to Buy, Sell and Make Money on the Mainland.
Another forum speaker also will address the China factor. Michael Collins, an investment banker with Chicago-based Jordan, Knauff & Co., has conducted extensive research on the coming wave of competition from building products companies based in China, with particular emphasis on the window and door industry. Collins will assess import trends and discuss the extent to which various products are at risk from overseas competition. He then will suggest how North American manufacturers can respond to this challenge, and examine the issues involved with sourcing product from abroad.
Plastics News' Executive Forum will feature 30 speakers on topics ranging from sustainability and merger and acquisition trends, to resin prospects and innovation.
See the forum's full agenda at www.plasticsnews.com/forum2008.