2022: A year of changes and opportunities
by Susan Avery, CAE

n her President’s Message in this issue, Deborah Ragsdale describes the changes to IAPD leadership this year. IAPD’s governance model is designed to accommodate the unexpected and ensure continuity in leadership. Our ability to weather the changes and attract new members to the board confirms two of my beliefs when it comes to association governance: First, trust the process. In this case, the process resulted in new board members who each bring excellent experience, insight and vision to the role, from member companies who have not engaged at the board level in the past. Second, I believe that the right leaders are in the right place at the right time. Each association president brings different strengths and skills to the position. Somehow, it always is the exact combination that we need at that given time.

Deborah has brought absolute optimism and incredible relationships with the distributors in this industry to the position. When we needed distributors to put people forward to the board, they responded to her. Peter Delgado, our current Vice President, after serving two terms on the board previously, stepped right into the VP position when asked. I can’t wait to see what Peter will do as president of IAPD.

Our governance model is also designed to follow an overall cohesive vision and strategy, as set out in our Three Pillars strategy. Amazing progress was made in 2022 toward that vision.

A Picture of Susan Avery
Talent acquisition
A Workforce Development Task Force formed in 2019 to identify ways in which IAPD could help member companies attract employees to the industry. They recognized that there is a lack of education about the benefits of performance plastics and some outdated impressions of distribution and manufacturing. They looked at best-in-class recruitment videos to see what the most successful companies were doing to attract employees. Then they looked at plastics-related videos, and the difference was significant. This task force concluded that the most appropriate role for IAPD was to develop world-class resources for members to use as part of their talent acquisition strategy. They requested and received funding from the board to hire a professional videography company and developed a plan to interview young, diverse talent at IAPD member companies.

This project was put on hold due to COVID-related travel restrictions. While waiting to be able to travel again, a second Workforce Development Task Force formed to focus on the hiring needs for the skilled trades. That second task force developed a best practices document that you can find at https://iapd.org/documents/resources/wfdtf_checklist.pdf.

The video project launched with filming in the first quarter this year. A preview of the work in progress was shown at the Leadership Development Conference in June and the first two videos — hiring professional positions and hiring the skilled trades — were launched at the convention in September. These videos are on the IAPD website and IAPD members are encouraged to download and use them, whether it’s at job fairs, on your website, in social media or elsewhere. Members can, for a nominal fee, have their logo and contact information added to these videos (our internal graphic designer will do the work for you).

The final video in this series, an “industry imaging” video, will launch by the end of the year. This video highlights the broad range of applications that use performance plastics and the environmental benefits of performance plastics as compared to other materials. It can be used in conjunction with the recruitment videos or on its own.

Sustainability — Recycling and environmental benefits

Thanks to two IAPD working groups —– the Environmental Committee and the Recycling Task Force — there are now additional resources and a revamped Sustainability section of the IAPD website (www.iapd.org/iapd/sustainability/sustainability_home.aspx).

The Environmental Committee created a “Sustainability Edition” of the popular Top 26 Market one-page information sheets. This new edition features infographics and data points specific to each of the markets. They can be used on their own or in conjunction with the original Top 26 Market pieces. Many IAPD members use these information sheets to train their employees, promote the advantages of performance plastics to customers and to enlighten those who do not yet realize the environmental benefits of performance plastics.

The Recycling Task Force developed two resources for IAPD members. The first is a recycling best practices document (http://www.iapd.org/documents/storedownloads/recycling_pp_best_practices_updated.pdf), designed to help companies either start or improve their recycling programs. It was developed with distributors in mind, as the task force found a variance in recycling programs from branch to branch and wanted to provide a way to help all branches reach their recycling goals. The document is available for download from the IAPD website and can be customized with your company’s logo and distributed to your branches.

The second resource is an online recycling directory. The first phase of the directory launched and includes recyclers across the United States. The next phase will include the materials that IAPD manufacturers will take back. Distributors shared with the task force that their top pain points around recycling are volume, warehouse space, segregation, contamination issues and finding recyclers.

Added programming

In addition to these new resources, there were also additional opportunities to learn and connect this year. We hope you were able to participate in one (or more) of the following events – and plan to attend them in 2023:

Golf Tournaments — The final tournament of the year was a new one in Frisco, TX, USA, and it was a huge hit. Thank you to all the volunteers who helped make the 2022 tournaments a success!

GenerationNext — This growing group has been providing fun virtual networking activities as well as career path advice from leaders in the industry. Read the GenerationNext Year in Review article in this issue for a full recap of all that they’ve done this year.

Introduction to Plastics Live Training — The Education Committee was happy to bring back this popular event, it had record attendance. We thank Arkema for hosting this event.

Small Distributor Round Tables — In addition to virtual quarterly roundtables, the small distributors convened at Midland Plastics, Inc. in New Berlin, WI, USA; and at A&C Plastics, Inc. in Houston, TX, USA for in-person small distributor roundtable events. These roundtables have become the premier membership offering for distributors under US$49.9 million in sales. Midland Plastics, Inc. opened its warehouse and manufacturing facilities for tours, followed by a full day of roundtable discussions and closed with a lovely private farm-to-table dinner. A&C Plastics, Inc. pulled out the red carpet and hosted tours of its new headquarters offices, which can only be described as a sports memorabilia and performance plastics museum and show room. They greeted the distributors with food, tequila and a Mariachi band. This was followed by another excellent day of meetings and a final dinner at a local hotspot. Small distributors share best practices, use others as a think-tank on solving some of their most critical business challenges.

Women In Plastics — This successful group continues to evolve. In 2022, three in-person events and three virtual events were offered to continue the professional development of all in the industry.

We look forward to a full calendar of events in 2023 and hope to see you in person!

Challenge and opportunity
There’s a (most likely) apocryphal quote about how the same Chinese character is used for the words “challenge” and “opportunity.” As I look back over this year, I am grateful that our association leadership overcame the earlier challenges and I look forward to the opportunities that are ahead of us. On behalf of all the IAPD headquarters staff, I wish you a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year.