The California Film Extruders and Converters Association is broadening its membership to include molders.
The group is changing its name to Western Processors Association. In a telephone interview, President Adrian Backer outlined the group's goals to unite the industry and expand geographically while remaining Western-centric. Backer is owner and president of converter Signature Flexible Packaging Inc. of Commerce, Calif.
The changes should become official May 10, when corporate members vote to change the bylaws at a special meeting in Norwalk, Calif.
Backer said he considers the change to be a fait accompli and views the May membership action as a technicality.
Board member John Picciuto said he is very excited about the changes. Picciuto is Western market manager in Tustin, Calif., with compounder H. Muehlstein & Co. Inc.
Across the political and environmental spectrum, injection molders have been attacked as well as film extruders and converters, said Picciuto, who sees the association's inclusion of injection molders and other processors as a natural progression to broaden the base.
WPA will unite the folks in the West from California to British Columbia and let the industry speak with one voice, he said.
Asked about reaction from other industry groups, Backer declined to comment but said: Our goal is to continue to take on issues that mitigate this black eye that plastic products in general get. It is not our intention to compete with anybody or raid members.
We have a lot more in common than differences.
He added, Conversations before the decision tended to be overwhelmingly positive about the changes.
Neither the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. nor the Society of Plastics Engineers responded to requests for comment.
Backer said the board has identified ongoing issues and concerns involving legislation and regulations, equipment-replacement tax credits and worker's compensation. Much of that activity occurs in state capitals in Sacramento, Calif.; Salem, Ore.; Olympia, Wash.; and Victoria, British Columbia.
Backer suggested solicitations for WPA members might occur also in Arizona, Nevada and Utah. The board has not fleshed out specific plans to attract new members, but it is considering recruitment dinners to target injection molders, recyclers, raw material producers and equipment and machinery manufacturers and distributors, Backer said.
Other recruitment initiatives might work through social networking services like Facebook and YouTube.
Seeds for this transition were planted in 2007, Backer said, with discussions at board and membership meetings becoming semi-serious two years ago and culminating in a Jan. 18 unanimous vote to proceed.
In January, CFECA invited Steven Jones, president of injection molder Jatco Inc. of Union City, Calif., to its board meeting and a workshop about the transition plans.
CFECA is an active and dynamic group that is positive and industry-focused, Jones said. I was impressed with how genuinely concerned they are about so many issues.
Jones said it is logical to have segments join forces. The plastics industry is huge, but it has not done the best job of promoting the benefits of plastics.
CFECA represents broad interests of the plastics film extruding and converting industry and has said it strives to be the nation's leading regional trade organization in the plastic industry.
One member noted: The name change was overdue, and getting into other industries is a good idea.
Another observed: If the new WPA is looking for molding members, that is a lot more than just a 'name change.' That's a paradigm shift.
Picciuto noted: We put on programs that people are interested in, such as balancing supply and demand, forecasting polyolefin trends, lean manufacturing and, coming in May, risk solutions.
We have always had quality people in leadership roles, he said.
Piccuito mentioned several recent CFECA presidents including Kevin Kelly of Emerald Packaging Inc. in Union City, Calif.; Pete Grande of Command Packaging in Vernon, Calif.; and Catherine Browne of Crown Poly Inc. in Huntington Park, Calif.
CFECA contracted March 16 with long-time strategic government communications strategist Laurie Hansen to assume the additional duties of executive director. Hansen's previous lobbying duties would be filtered into her position, Backer said.
The tenure of Susan Fernandez of Rolling Hills, Calif., as CFECA executive director will end April 22, Backer said. However, CFECA might assign Fernandez to handle certain tasks for the association, he added.
Hansen has offices with Houston Group, a Sacramento government relations and advocacy firm that was formed in 1980.
In addition to CFECA/WPA, Hansen's government-relations clients include NatureWorks LLC of Minnetonka, Minn.; Metabolix Inc. of Cambridge, Mass.; Pactiv Corp. of Lake Forest, Ill.; Heritage Bag Co. of Carrollton, Texas; and Plastimin LLC, also of Carrollton.
Houston Group's website lists 39 other governmental, trade association and corporate clients including the Biodegradable Products Institute, the California Bag and Film Alliance and Californians for Extended Product Responsibility.
In 2005, Backer purchased Vitex Packaging Group's West Coast division, formerly operating as Schuster Flexible Packaging Inc. in Commerce. Later, Backer acquired Accurate Packaging of Carson, Calif., and merged the two operations to form Signature Flexible Packaging, with two plants.