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The following is a speech delivered by Denis Cloutier, outgoing chairman of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) Board of Directors, at the CPIA's annual general meeting on April 30 in To...


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June 1, 2007 by Canadian Plastics

The following is a speech delivered by Denis Cloutier, outgoing chairman of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) Board of Directors, at the CPIA’s annual general meeting on April 30 in Toronto.

Dear members of the CPIA and friends of the plastics industry,

When a chairman of the CPIA Board ends his mandate, he usually goes through a number of what I would refer to as “politically correct” statements. I intend to do things a bit differently in this speech, with both politically correct and — what may be perceived by some — politically incorrect statements.

Before I do, let me go ahead with some very heartfelt comments on fellow members of the Board, members of the CPIA executive committee, CPIA president and CEO Serge Lavoie and our truly dedicated professional staff. It has been an honour and a privilege to work with each and every one of you. We have been going through some rough times lately, but I always knew that I could count on the dedication and concerted efforts of everyone to get us through.

To the volunteers, I will always consider you as the visionaries of our industry — people who could see further than the tips of their noses, who strove to understand the big picture and to become more responsible leaders. I salute you as the leaders of our industry, and consider myself lucky to have had the chance to work with each of you.

I wish to express special thanks to CPIA Board members Terry Browitt, who led the finance committee through some very difficult exercises; and Paul Clark, who facilitated our brainstorming and strategic thinking exercises over the last few months.

Also, to Serge and the entire staff of the CPIA, I offer a million thanks and congratulations for a job well done under very difficult circumstances. Your professionalism is second to none, and never waffled despite major sources of anxiety!

And now, at the end of my two years as chairman of your Board of Directors, I feel that I must share with you some thoughts that have been increasingly present in my mind — these may be perceived as the politically incorrect statements that I referred to above. I know that I am preaching to the converted, but this message must be sent.

For all the committed members and volunteers who participate on our board and in our many councils or committees, there are still too many companies that aren’t at the table and that aren’t doing their fair share of the work. I’m going to be blunt by stating that any active company in the Canadian plastics industry that isn’t a member of the CPIA, and that is not participating on our issue management, is simply a free rider. They are taking advantage of the investment our members make and the sweat equity they donate to the industry.

I am obviously not referring here to the small entrepreneurial company whose owner is the production manager in the morning, the sales manager at lunch and the delivery driver in the late afternoon. Rather, I am talking about companies such as Basell, which openly admitted that it saw no need in investing in the CPIA because it was getting all the benefits anyway.

I also have a problem with the absence around the table of some of the jewels of our converting segment. I cannot understand why such organizations as Decoma and the ABC Group, which are some of the top operations in Canada, are not getting involved. They are the type of companies that can afford both the monetary resources and the sweat equity that are the lifeline of an organization like the CPIA.

Basically, I strongly believe, particularly when our industry is under attack from all sides, that if you are not part of the solution it may be that you are part of the problem.

Denis Cloutier is the senior VP of Laval, Que.-based Poly Expert Inc.