Canadian Plastics

Letters To The Editor

Canadian Plastics   



Congratulations on telling it like it is!...

Congratulations on telling it like it is!

Your Dec. 05 editorial on the future of the Canadian plastics industry is right on the money. The need to collaborate, as you pointed out, has never been greater.

As mold manufacturers we need one strong, professional tooling association (not three) that will help tackle some of the challenges. Solo efforts just don’t cut it. The other response is to encourage and nurture “innovation.” St. Clair College, in Windsor, Ont., has started the first four-year Plastics Engineering Technology program in Canada. By comparison, in the U.S., they have had four-year plastics engineering programs for over 50 years at the undergraduate, and post graduate level. The Canadian plastics industry needs to be aware and support this important first step. The proposed curriculum is very impressive.

As mold manufacturer’s we are not in the “tooling” business, but rather we are in the “plastics” industry. We need to fully understand every aspect of plastic processing if we are going to add value to our customers. Just as the manufacturer of “pots and pans” must understand the art and science of cooking, we must fully understand the art and science of plastics. Innovation is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet.

Advertisement

Guy Di Ponio, Vice-President Valiant Tool & Mold Inc.

***

Dear Tom

Your December Editor’s View, while provocative, sadly misses the mark for both fact and analysis and does a grave disservice to the industry at large.

First, let’s begin with your assertion that the industry needs “saving”. Is the industry facing unprecedented competitive challenges and squeezed operating margins? There’s no question of that. Is the industry shrinking or dying out? The most recent sales and employment stats don’t bear that out. Shipments and employment continue to grow, even in the face of offshore competition, a higher Canadian dollar, rising energy costs and volatile resin pricing.

In the fact of this, the Canadian industry is doing what it has always done: adapting to the new competitive environment. There has never been a “business as usual” philosophy in this industry. And I can tell you that from my vantage point as president of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association, the sector is meeting its challenges through co-operation and collective action, just as it has done for decades.

Tom, you are short-changing this industry when you suggest that its leaders and companies are reluctant to work together. Nothing could be further from the truth. CPIA alone manages 19 separate councils and operating units to represent everything from vinyl products, to film to composites, natural composites and various plastic construction products. In addition, CPIA has active working relationships with over 200 regional, national and international organizations. We share data and ideas, co-operate on public and government affairs initiatives and jointly manage an array of standards and co-operative services.

For instance, three separate task groups helped rewrite the guidelines for the SR&ED Tax Credit programs of the Canadian Revenue Agency, thus making them much easier to access and manage. Another task group has lead an initiative to co-ordinate the food contact regulations of Health Canada and the FDA to make it easier for new plastics to come to market in this country. A group of companies has formed and funded a Green Building Task Group to promote the environmental and energy efficient aspects of plastic building products.

Ironically, at the very time you were putting your editorial piece to press, our national board of directors was in Ottawa for its annual Parliamentary Day where it met with Ministers, MPs and senior public servants. During those meetings, we circulated copies of our annual Markets and Trends publication which clearly illustrates that the Canadian plastics industry is one of the top three manufacturing sectors in the country with a total value chain worth $50.9 billion and total direct employment of 171,000 (larger than the auto sector).

You’re right to point out the unprecedented challenges facing this industry and the perils of ignoring them. Respectfully, where I think you went wrong was in not recognizing the resilience of this industry and the strong culture of cooperation that has allowed it to meet its challenges and prosper despite them.

Serge Lavoie, President & CEO

Canadian Plastics Industry Association

***

Tom

Congratulations on a timely, outstanding December 2005 editorial “Collective effort required to save plastics industry.” Co-operation, sharing and exchanging information is not a sign of weakness, but rather a proactive step to make your company smarter, stronger and level the playing field. You may never get everyone on the same page, but hopefully with such strong editorials as yours, they’ll consider looking at the book and thus see the big picture. A healthy and more co-operative industry benefits everyone.

Mike Hicks, Canadian Sales Manager DMS Windsor, Ont.

***

Tom

I have had a few discussions on this issue with your predecessor and I totally agree with your prognosis. I just hope it isn’t too late for the “blunt words” to sink in and create a survival action in the plastic processor community, including the Canadian manufacturing sector. As a society we have become so wanting to be politically correct that we hesitate to use blunt words even though they may be required for our own survival.

Governments only respond to the larger vote mass in Canada and manufacturers — of thermoplastics, metal, wood, fibre etc. — are all under siege. All Association sub-segments and memberships working together will grab the government’s attention. Business is “financial” war and as in anything else “he who hesitates is lost.”

Thank you for this editorial.

Bob Gemmill, President

Contract Executive Partners Inc.

Advertisement

Stories continue below

Print this page

Related Stories