Washington — Gene Sanders has left the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.
Sanders, one of the main cogs behind the record-setting U.S. plastics industry trade show NPE, resigned last month as senior vice president trade shows and conferences after eight years with the Washington-based association. His last day was Dec. 9.
"I resigned. It was one of those things. [SPI President and CEO] Bill [Carteaux] is building the corporation. My strength is when we were in trouble,” Sanders said during a Jan. 20 telephone call.
“We had our best year, our best show ever [in 2015]. But we don't need a gunfighter now. It was time,” he said.
Sanders' future plans are not set.
“I hate to say it, but [SPI doesn't] need me as much. I'm ready for something else. I've had offers to run other trade shows and be a CEO. But I don't want to be that person to run things. I want to come in and fix problems.
“NPE was the best thing I've ever done,” Sanders said
Carteaux said Sanders not only oversaw a successful NPE in 2015 when the business was booming, he also was key in 2009 at the depths of the Great Recession when it was most at risk.
"Gene's contributions to this organization proved invaluable," Carteaux said. "NPE 2009 wouldn't have happened without Gene's strategic vision and hard work. He will always be a friend of SPI."
Sanders said he may work to help plastics companies who plan to exhibit at the K Show, the plastics trade show based in Düsseldorf, Germany, scheduled for October 2016.
Sanders said he is in regular communication with SPI's Carteaux. Sanders has agreed to bring any replacement up to speed on NPE, which is next scheduled to run in May 2018 in Orlando, Fla.
The 2015 version of NPE had 65,810 attendee registrations, a 19 percent increase from 2012. The triennial trade show topped the mark for exhibit space and number of exhibitors set in 2000 in Chicago's McCormick Place. The 2015 NPE recorded 2,029 exhibitors who booked more than 1.128 million net square feet of exhibit space.
Carteaux said he is evaluating whether to fill Sanders' role given the team already in place.
“We have a lot of talent on the operations side and on the sales and marketing side,” he said.
Carteaux added that Mark Garrison has been promoted to senior vice president of business development and membership. Those reporting to Garrison, including Brad Williams, vice president of marketing and business development, are responsible for NPE and other SPI events.