The Orlando meeting and exhibition of the ACS Rubber Division was a watershed event. Almost watered-out, too, as Hurricane Floyd threatened and Tropical Depression Harvey hit, although Hurricane Gert stayed away from the meeting. Despite the weather concerns, 5,728 registered for the convention, compared with 5,613 at the 1993 meeting and trade show in Orlando, the division reports. Pre-registration was up slightly.
No figures are available yet for how many people attended Rubber Expo '99, where floor traffic is the measure of success as far as exhibitors are concerned. Exhibitors generally said it seemed slow compared with other expos.
For the organization itself, however, the meeting was the start of a series of important changes designed to make sure the group remains on the positive side of the financial ledger.
At the spring meeting in Chicago, division officials warned in no uncertain terms that the association would fall into financial danger if it continued its current spending patterns, without offsetting income. They asked for change, and got it in a hurry.
Among other things, various fees will be raised, the spring meeting format probably will be altered (but wisely, not dropped), and the division's technical journal ``Rubber Chemistry & Technology'' now will go only to those who request it.
Beyond the small professional staff, the Rubber Division is run by good-intentioned volunteers who thought first about what is best for the industry, the division and its members. Financial concerns were secondary.
The division's gatekeepers now are running the non-profit organization more like a business. That can be hard for some to swallow, but it's probably necessary.