WASHINGTON (June 18, 2008) — Attracting new members to the Rubber Manufacturers Association's Engineered Products Group is a major goal for the association, according to EPG Vice President Daniel J. Mustico.
Today the EPG has 72 members, about 50 product manufacturers and the rest suppliers, Mustico said. This compares with 125 to 135 members at the peak of the EPG's predecessor organization, the General Products Group.
Yet the EPG Executive Committee makes it a priority to make sure that membership goals are in line with the group's purview, according to Mustico. “Our membership goals are more in product areas, topic-specific areas,” he said.
The RMA's engineered products manufacturers are of crucial importance to the organization, according to Charles A. Cannon, the association's new president and CEO.
“The EPG represents 40 percent of the Executive Committee, so the EPG's issues will be front and center,” Cannon said.
EPG members have much in common with the RMA's tire manufacturing members, Mustico said.
“One thing they have in common that trumps all others is materials,” he said. The EPG has found that bringing in suppliers has provided new strength to the organization, he said.
Although the scale of EPG member businesses generally is not the same as that of tire makers, he said, the two sectors share common manufacturing issues, as well as common regulatory issues in Washington.
Cannon said EPG members supply the tire industry, and both sectors supply the auto industry. “There are vendor relationships that cross the line both coming and going,” he said.
The RMA's statistical functions are being reviewed with an eye toward improving their utility to both tire makers and EPG members, according to Cannon and Mustico.
Statistics will be on the table at the upcoming RMA Board of Directors retreat, and the decisions made on statistics will have a direct bearing on such things as association bylaws and staffing, Cannon said.
EPG statistical reports tend to be semi-annual macroeconomic indicators, Mustico said. “We have moved away from product-specific reports because many of our members do not reflect the global market,” he said.
Two international issues that greatly concern EPG members, however, are certification by the International Standards Organization and the upcoming requirements of the European Union's Registration, Evaluation, Authorization & Restriction of Chemical Substances , or REACH, program, Mustico said.
“We are totally dedicated to higher standards, particularly on ISO certification,” he said. “As for REACH, most of our larger, more comprehensive supplier members have done due diligence, and taken care of the business they need to take care of.
“We're concerned about the impact REACH may have on our sector,” Mustico said. “It doesn't look like it will affect many companies, but we're not sure if the playing field will change. REACH will be on our radar screen for a long time.”