Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

SPI Members: Thanks to You, It Works

I saw a sign at the car wash the other day that pretty well summed up what a lot of us at SPI feel:

“In our haste to provide you with exceptional value and service we may sometimes forget to say THANK-YOU. Please know that we never take your loyalty and support for granted.”

To some it might sound corny, but I found it to be a very effective sign. (Certainly more effective than this one.)

In these times, nothing rings more true than sincere expressions of appreciation. The contributions that our member companies make go far beyond the income they provide through dues. The value of their time and dedication to our industry projects and programs is invaluable and something that all of us consider immeasurably important.

Speaking for the Machinery and Moldmakers Divisions, I know firsthand that safety standards could not be written, industry statistics could not be collected, and other projects vital to the industry never started without the volunteers who serve on the committees who drive them. Having spent more than 24 years with the SPI, I know that NPE, our Industry Group conferences and other events would not be run so smoothly and successfully without volunteers on committees. Likewise, our public policy advocacy effort would not be as fine-tuned or infused with a grassroots voice if not for our committee volunteers and other active individuals. Even our communications and marketing would struggle for a message without member input via committee.

In short, everything we do, everything we are is because of the members who volunteer to serve on our committees. In our haste to provide members with exceptional value and service, we may occasionally forget to say “thank you,” but we never take them for granted.

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Knowledge is Power

In my last blog post, I called these uncertain economic times “tumultuous.” As it turns out, that may have been an understatement. “Cataclysmic” might be more appropriate, but that implies that we are beyond recovery, which I do not believe is the case. While some of the economic forces that are impacting our industry are out of our control, we can still strongly deter their consequences.

One tried and true way to combat a bad scenario is to arm yourself with as much intelligence on the matter as possible and use that intelligence as a powerful tool for innovation, gaining a new perspective and taking a new approach toward a solution. “In Down Times, Turn Up Big Ideas, Creativity, Innovation” – that’s the title of an article written recently by Tom Laughon, founder of Catch Your Limit Consulting, a strategic management firm headquartered in Tallahassee, Fla. In the article, written for the American Society of Association Executives, Laughon states:

When it comes to business, no matter your age or experience level, the knee-jerk reaction [to a down economy] is to either wait it out, throw in the towel, or do a hatchet job on the bottom line, propping up profits in the short term. Cutting back on leadership development, innovation efforts, training, morale-building initiatives, and marketing is often seen as a quick way to save money. However, coming from the perspective gained inside those brain wrinkles of mine, this approach often erodes your relevance, competitiveness, and market share down the road.

So, where do you get this kind of professional development, innovation and knowledge? There are a number of ways available — but as any military commander will tell you, nothing is more valuable than the information that comes straight from the front lines. Front line information, paired with expert analysis by leading authorities, will help your business – and the plastics industry as a whole — chart a clear and decisive course toward recovery. Don’t underestimate the value of your association’s events and networking opportunities as avenues for obtaining powerful knowledge and new ideas.

Case in point: The SPI Machinery & Mold Makers Divisions, along with the SPI Fluoropolymers Division, will be staging their 2009 Annual Business Conference together in an effort to gather many front line industry experts in one place to share intelligence and learn about opportunities for renewed success. Taking place May 3-6, 2009 at the Hyatt Grand Champions in Indian Wells, Calif., the gathering will feature political, economic, environmental and industry speakers in order to provide perspective on where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re going. I encourage you to come and learn what we’re doing to ensure that NPE2009 will be a success for your company. There will also be opportunities for attendees of this conference to mingle and share experiences. Each of the sponsoring SPI groups have worked together to control costs while providing a valuable forum for the much needed knowledge that can be gained through collective interaction and sharing of ideas.

We know that these are trying times for everyone, but we are equally sure that this conference can be a valuable part of generating ideas and sharing experiences that will aid working together toward recovery.

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

An Insurance Policy During Tough Times

As we close out 2008 there will be a collective sigh of relief followed by a collective holding of breath as we head into 2009. Since every cliche known has been used to describe the current economy, I’ll stick with my favorite: tumultuous.

I realize that all the CEOs of our member companies are focused on their businesses and that the peripheral issues may seem less important during “tumultuous” economic times like these. Rest assured that your trade association is also very much focused on your business. While you work to meet quotas, payrolls and other financial demands that change daily, SPI is continually engaged in covering your assets via equally important, but perhaps less visible, trade association work. Membership in SPI is like an insurance policy during hard times. Because most of you have been SPI members for quite some time, you realize that the dues you pay enable us to represent you in government affairs, the regulatory process, trade show development, statistics and safety programs and international trade (to name a few). Those dues dollars are now being put to good work to make sure that once the economy does rebound, the plastics industry will return to being a vibrant and highly productive component of the global market – just as it has been for the past 60+ years.

As vice president of the Equipment Council and executive director of the Machinery and Moldmakers Industry Groups, I know that these segments have been hit particularly hard. Nevertheless, our work on important industry projects continues. The development of safety standards and equipment statistics has been uninterrupted and proceeds thanks to the support of our committee members. Thanks to each member company that supports these efforts through the dedicated work of employees who take the time and trouble to travel to various meetings. We are constantly looking for ways to make these meetings more valuable and cost effective. To that end, we will be starting a series of online webinar meetings to keep the process flowing while containing costs to committee members and their companies. We are all in this together and we will all pull through together.

I’ll be blogging on a regular basis to keep you up to date on programs and events going on in the Machinery and Moldmakers Groups. Stay tuned for my next entry on the annual business conference scheduled for May 3–6, 2009 and the outstanding program we’re developing to get you the most current information on the state of the industry.

I wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday season!