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June 15, 1998
Congratulations to the members and leaders of the Plastic Bag Association and the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. on their prenuptials. A marriage makes sense for two key reasons. First, it's in the best interest of each grou p's member companies. Second, it's in the best interest of the combined organization itself.

Since its rebirth in 1990, PBA has been a proactive voice for the plastic bag and film industry throughout the United States and, to a degr ee, internationally. Industry issues going forward are a bit different than when PBA first engaged itself on the national scene. Part of its success over those years came from teaming up with SPI and the American Plastics Council on ad hoc issues and projects.

Now, collective resources can be increasingly focused on industry marketing and economic development, rather than in primarily defending against the unfounded vitriol of economic and enviromaniacal competitors.

An important contributor to PBA's past success has been support from its administrative staff, led by executive director Holly Munter and Peter Rush, before her. Recognizing PBA's future needs and understanding the benefit, Munter and her organization worked to make the PBA-SPI marriage come to fruition.

Over the years, PBA worked with the California Film Extruders and Converters Association, generally known as the country's most successful regional film and bag association. PBA provided educational materials, environmental promotional support and industry-issue assistance. The associations explored mutual membership or a merger.

To PBA and CFECA members who have been involved in the discussions it's not surprising to read of CFECA's hesitancy to join up.

The national issues facing CFECA members are the same as those facing PBA. If anything, one might make a case that some of CFECA's local and regional p ressures, especially environmental and regulatory, are more challenging than those of the average PBA member.

Which raises these questions: If PBA members find more benefits from SPI's technical, communications, regulatory and envir onmental services rather than continuing their independent efforts, and if CFECA's challenges are no less than PBA's, what would stand in the way of CFECA joining SPI? If such an alliance were to benefit CFECA but at the cost of st aff interests, would CFECA members shirk from making that decision?

It's no secret that is what stood in the way of a PBA-CFECA deal.

An industry association has to work daily and, periodically, change in the best interest of its mem bers, not its staff. It takes strong, effective member leadership to make that happen. It's been under discussion for years, but CFECA has to decide how to structure itself to address the national issues and programs that it has relied upon PBA to provide in the past.

Once the PBA-SPI nuptials are complete, if their new policies eliminate the availability of nonmember support, CFECA may find it has lost an important and timely opportunity. Now's the time for CFECA to either extrude or get off the pot.

George A. Makrauer

ComAd Management Group Inc.
Treasure Island, Fla.

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