Canadian Plastics

CPIA board settles on restructuring plan

After a year of consultation and industry speculation, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) has r...

December 1, 2008   Canadian Plastics

After a year of consultation and industry speculation, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) has ratified a series of changes for the 2009-2011 budget cycle that will allow the association to restructure.

The CPIA will now be split into two key, autonomous divisions, each with its own financial and staff structure.

“CPIA had a fairly complex structure that was increasingly trying to do too much with too little,” noted current CPIA president and CEO Serge Lavoie in an interview with Canadian Plastics. “The feeling was that we had to simplify the structure, and we landed on the two division structure because there are really two key things that we do.”

The Environment and Plastics Industry Council (EPIC) division, currently a standing unit within the CPIA, will concentrate on improving the image of plastics amongst key stakeholders. According to Lavoie, the impetus to turn EPIC into an autonomous entity came from resin suppliers.

“The legacy resin companies who are our biggest supporters had the desire to focus all of their investment into the environment and health work,” explained Lavoie. “They see this as a big issue for the industry as a whole they thought that their dollars would best be spent focused on these issues.”

While the membership dues from resin companies will be used to fund EPIC’s activities, all of the association’s other activities will be consolidated into a newly created processor division.

The processor division will include all of the CPIA’s activities and events such as the Plast-Ex and Expoplast trade shows, as well as the association’s four regional committees and its three processor-based councils — the Plastic Film Manufacturers Association of Canada, and the Composites and Vinyl Councils.

For industry watchers, the narrowing down of CPIA’s council activities comes as no surprise. Earlier this year, the association announced that it would retain the three councils with the greatest membership, and phase out all the others. The Mould Makers Council was one of the casualties of the upheaval.

“By landing on a processor division, what we’ve done is say that the biggest part of the value chain is the group that we are here to support,” said Lavoie. “Rather than try to be the association for the entire value chain, what we’re really saying is that we are going to focus on the processor issues, and we would like all these supplier groups at the table to help with that.”

But it is the CPIA’s newly revised executive structure that is raising eyebrows in the industry. As expected, current vice president of environment and health Cathy Cirko will take on the position of executive director for EPIC. But Lavoie, who will resign at the end of the year and stay on as a consultant until the end of March 2009, will not be replaced.

Instead, the association will completely eliminate the role of president and CEO. The CPIA is looking to hire an executive director for the processor division, and the two executive directors will work with the current executive vice president of finance and administration. This three-person management group will report directly to the national board.

No other staff changes are planned, although Lavoie mentioned that the association is looking to hire an issues manager. In order to fill the new executive director’s chair, the association is looking within the industry’s ranks for a consensus builder.

“We want somebody who hasn’t got a learning curve,” noted Lavoie. “The function isn’t so much running an association anymore, because the VP of finance will take on a lot of the functions of the CEO.”

“We feel like we can really go after someone who understands plastics manufacturing, and who can hit the ground running,” he continued.

Lavoie acknowledged that the decision to do away with a figurehead is a “bold move,” but noted that the industry will still have a unified voice to represent the association’s interests.

“We’ll end up with two strong spokespeople for most of what’s going on with the industry, and we’ll still be able to call on our national board chair,” he argued.

Full details of the restructuring will be communicated to the association’s members in early December, and Lavoie will help develop a revamped set of association bylaws to be ratified by the membership  at the next annual general meeting.

Additionally, membership due increases that would have come into effect in January have been cancelled. A new rate card for both divisions has been developed, and will come into effect in 2010 for current members.

Tune in next week for an exclusive sit down interview with Serge Lavoie on CanPlastics TV. Lavoie will talk about the different parts of the restructuring, and how they will change your association.


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