Bill Carteaux's 13-year tenure as CEO of the Plastics Industry Association came during a time of great change: the economic crisis in 2008, the shale gas resurgence and now public challenges over plastic waste.
But the biggest long-term impact from his tenure, association leaders said, will likely be internal.
They credit Carteaux, who died Dec. 10 at age 59 from complications from leukemia, with guiding and preserving the association during the difficult years around the 2008 crisis so that the Washington-based organization remains relevant to the industry today.
“It's not an understatement to say that the Plastics Industry Association might not be in existence without his leadership,” said Tad McGwire, who sits on the group's eight-member executive board and is president of equipment maker Industrial Heater Corp.
Carteaux came to the job after a long career in the plastics machinery sector, and that industry knowledge and deep contacts helped him to maintain support for the association from companies, as everyone faced difficult decisions from the 2008 economic crisis, McGwire said.
That included maintaining and growing the NPE trade show, a major source of funding for the trade group, McGwire said.
Without Carteaux's leadership, McGwire said, the group could have shrunk as member companies left, and that would have left it more narrowly focused, perhaps only doing political advocacy for specific industry segments that wanted to pay for that, and with a smaller NPE show for revenue and industry promotion.
“As such a strong cheerleader, he was able to keep external support,” McGwire said. “There's no question the industry association would look very different today if not for Bill's leadership and energy.”
Wylie Royce, chairman of the association and director of additive maker Royce Global, agreed Carteaux stabilized and possibly saved the group. In the five years before Carteaux took over in 2005, the association's core budget had shrunk from $12 million to $8 million.
“I believe Bill's legacy will be one of transformation,” Royce said. “When he started with [the association], it was in deep trouble financial trouble. It was also viewed as more of a ‘club' than an effective association by many in industry.”
The group named Chief Operating Officer Patty Long as its interim president and CEO.