Canadian Plastics

Troubled SPE makes changes

In an effort to shore up its finances, leaders of the Society of Plastics Engineers have proposed selling SPE's hea...

August 11, 2008   Canadian Plastics

In an effort to shore up its finances, leaders of the Society of Plastics Engineers have proposed selling SPE’s headquarters building in Brookfield, cutting jobs and reducing the amount of dues money rebated to sections and divisions.

According to an “open letter to the leadership” from SPE President Bill O’Connell and treasurer Barbara Arnold-Feret, the organization’s financial woes are being caused primarily by a membership decline. The letter notes that the majority of current SPE members are more than 50 years old. “If we do nothing, SPE will fade out of existence as the last Baby Boomers retire,” the letter said.

The SPE’s goal is to try and attract a younger generation of computer-savvy members. “New benefits and services geared specifically for this demographic will need to be quickly introduced,” the letter said. “SPE will need to further invest in new technologies demanded by these groups for the distribution of its benefits.”

The letter was e-mailed July 23 to about 1,000 SPE activists, including council members, people who serve on the boards of sections and divisions, and members of any committee. SPE also posted the letter on its Web site.

SPE moved into its two-story, 36,000-square-foot Brookfield headquarters in 1980, and tried unsuccessfully to sell the building a few years ago.

The society also will eliminate four to six positions from its current staff of 30 employees, including part-timers, cuts that will save about US$250,000 a year.

Changing the dues rebate structure could generate about $200,000 in savings, the SPE said, as well as cut total rebates by two-thirds.

According to the letter, SPE membership is down by 6 percent through mid-2008, reflecting weakness in the economy. Membership losses could mount as high as 9 or 10 per cent by year’s end, the letter said.

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