"Membership has dwindled, no question," said Scott Kendrick, chair of the SRG and an operations manager at Tallapoosa, Ga.-based Barco L.L.C. "But the votes from Bourbon Trail and Blue Ridge memberships were overwhelming to join SRG. Everyone sees a need for the group. In our last meeting, younger folks left saying they wanted to get more involved, get the word out about the group and that just being there was a great thing for them."
Within the ACS Rubber Division’s “Operational Guide for Subdivisions,” a merger and/or absorption has its own process for approval, whereby the absorbed groups (or subdivisions) must be disbanded.
These disbandments and subsequent “merger by absorption” are governed by sunset clauses in the Rubber Division’s rules, and require a majority vote from the ACS Rubber Division’s Board of Directors.
“Once the steps in this process have taken place ... then the rubber groups can move forward with the merger by absorption,” a Rubber Division spokeswoman said.
The SRG next will meet March 4-6, 2024, for its winter meeting. It is a gathering where Kendrick said he hopes to see many eager new faces.
"It made sense to unify," he told Rubber News. "Membership was one factor. But manufacturers, I think, were getting leary about sending employees out for a vacation or to play golf.
"We want to bring back our technical sessions, an area where it was becoming more and more difficult to give people meaningful presentations. Instead of three groups trying to offer five presentations each, we can pool our resources and funds to have one group with eight good presentations."
Kendrick added he hopes to bring together sales and marketing people, "the guys on the floor running the extruders," human resource experts, engineers and chemists.
"As people have been retiring and moving on, there has been shrinking interest," he said. "There has been less and less of a drive for people to join rubber groups."
Jeff Hurd leads the Louisville, Ky.-based Bourbon Trail Elastomer Group, which joined the ACS Rubber Division about five years ago and has about 30 members from Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Indiana.
Hurd is regional sales manager for Unimatec Chemicals America Inc., based in Novi, Mich.