June saw annual meetings and conferences for two of the largest trade groups in surface finishing, as the National Association of Surface Finishers and the Chemical Coaters Association International held gatherings in Grand Rapids and Sarasota, respectfully. The Powder Coating Institute held its annual meeting in late May in Austin Texas.
While hundreds attended these meetings to see the latest trends and rub elbows with customers and suppliers, it was also a chance for members (and some of you belong to multiple associations) to renew their support for these organizations.
And trust me: they need you more now than ever before.
While the economy has taken its toll on many shops – some of whom are no longer walking amongst us – it has also made it even more difficult for these non-profits to function in the battle for dollars and memberships.
Some organizations and local chapters have seen declines in renewals, drops in attendance at some events, and a small reduction in sponsorship support.
Some finishers have taken the ‘what have you done for me lately?’ approach to backing their national local organizations, which might be a huge mistake. Now, more than ever, the need for trade associations in these especially lean times is important.
“These next two quarters are critical for us,” says Michael Siegmund of MacDermid, president of the NASF, who signaled his organization is struggling, too. “We need to increase our memberships.”
The biggest reasons for joining and backing groups such as NASF, CCAI and PCI is not only the educational benefits and industry growth, but also the ability to help when the wolves are at the door.
Case in point: Continental Structural Plastics Inc. in North Baltimore, OH is fighting the good fight with state and local regulators over an incinerator now running at the plant than employs 220 in northwest Ohio just outside of Toledo.
CSPI paints automotive parts, and says a state regulation requires it to use a machine that reduces pollution and costs $500,000 to operate each year. But the company says the machine is no longer needed to meet Ohio Environmental Protection Agency standards because it has cut production at its paint shop and it has increased use of robotics and air recycling.
The Ohio EPA has agreed, and wants to issue a permit for CSPI to use cheaper measurers to reduce pollution. So far, the federal EPA has not signed off on the plan. Meanwhile, CSPI’s parent company in Michigan says it can move the plant to neighboring Indiana where state EPA rules will not restrict its emission reduction standards. Ohio's governor several state lawmakers have asked environmental regulators to solve the plan, and quickly.
These battles go on every day as new regulations and red tape pop up at the local, state and federal levels. It will never end. Thankfully, groups such as finishing trade organizations keep its members aware of what is coming up, and even in the case of the NASF, have lobbyists in Washington fighting ever increasing government regulations.
So think of all the benefits you’ll receive by maintaining your memberships: education, networking, government relations, marketing, etc. And by all means, get involved in your local and national organizations by serving on a committee or volunteering to chair an event or conference. The job you save may be your own.
BELATED HAPPY BIRTHDAY to former PRODUCTS FINISHING editor Ezra Blount, who turned 101 years old in May. He was an editor of this magazine back in the late 1940s, and was also a longtime secretary of the Metal Finishing Suppliers’ Association, a precursor to the NASF.
WE HOPE YOU ENJOY reading our automotive-themed issue this month. We take a look at the new eco-friendly paint shop at the Volkswagen plant under construction in Chattanooga, TN. It’s a huge undertaking by the German-based company, but one that has numerous unique features and concepts.