Canadian Plastics

Q&A , Phil Lem, President, SPE, Ontario Section

Q: The Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) is over 60 years old. How are you keeping the Ontario section relevant to an increasingly tech-savvy membership?

February 1, 2010   Canadian Plastics



Q: The Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) is over 60 years old. How are you keeping the Ontario section relevant to an increasingly tech-savvy membership?

A: Culturally, we’ve been changing with the industry, particularly over the past five to 10 years. Right now, I’m trying to bring a younger membership to SPE Ontario. A lot of people are on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter nowadays, so it’s not a big shift for them to move to LinkedIn or other types of professional networking mediums, and this is what I’m trying to promote. Also, as the old days of meeting and greeting with clients are starting to fade, we’re trying to provide new incentives, in terms of exciting information sessions, to motivate people to actually come out and attend SPE events.

Basically, we’re trying to diversify from our traditional way of doing things. We’re shifting our newsletter from a traditional print magazine format to an electronic version. We’ve also set up the new Ontario chapter website, at www.speontario.com. The goal is to use it to provide free services to regional members — to allow them to post their resumes, for example, as well as to advertise career opportunities if they’ve been laid off or are otherwise looking for work.

Q: As are many professional organizations, the SPE is struggling to maintain a healthy level of membership. What are you doing to attract new members?

A: To increase members, the SPE’s national committee has created a program called Members-Get-Members, or MGM. Between now and May 1, 2010, when an existing member brings a new member into the organization, that new member receives a reduced membership fee of $109 instead of the standard fee of $144. The member who brought in the new recruit, meanwhile, gets to accumulate reward points. The points add up and can be cashed in for an upgraded membership status, or three-month, six-month or one-year membership extensions.

Q: New membership aside, what else is crucial for the future of the SPE?

A: Without a doubt, we need support and sponsorship from the big players in the plastics industry. We’ve lost some of that support over the past few years. Hopefully, as the economy turns around in the coming years, they’ll consider supporting us again. After all, they’re part of this industry too.


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