Planned Facility Visit and Discussion

by Phil Shoemaker

For those folks unfortunate enough to be involved in an aircraft incident there is an aphorism that states that if it still looks like an airplane when the parts stop moving, you’ll probably walk away.  I was reminded of that gem when surveying the membership numbers of our once-proud organization, which has been in descent for twenty-five years.  For a while it seemed that SPE membership generally would track the growth of the polymers industry, one doubling roughly every thirteen years.  In the early 1990s registration stood at 38,000, which would yield about 136,000 today.  But things changed in the mid-1990s, when enrollment slowed, then started its steady descent, standing today at 22,000.  I’m not convinced that the parts have stopped moving yet, but it’s undeniable that we came in for a hard landing.  Unsurprisingly, the declining membership corresponds with the development of the internet and its related on-line services—the world wide web in ’93, email, (first publicly available through CompuServe in ’95), then google, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Information, contacts, machinery parts or materials, all can now be accessed without leaving the office, an undeniable gain in efficiency and convenience.  No surprise there—the replacement of one form of communication with one faster and more information-intensive has been going on for centuries.  The question now becomes how SPE might best serve the interests of our membership, given the undeniable gains the internet offers.

There are things the internet cannot offer, however.  In our case they are showing up as an incessant call for new hires, all kinds of training, and the knowledge that uniquely comes from tacit feedback and personal contact.  Occasionally, we find out how someone tackled the recruitment, knowledge transfer, and employee retention challenges.  So, as we begin the new SPE year, we’ll see if we can offer something useful—a chance to tour a facility and listen to the owner of Core Technology, Geoff Foster, reveal how he has addressed those thorny problems at his company.  He has, and will continue, to offer outreach and training efforts that we can all emulate, much to everyone’s advantage.  We’ll also update you as to the ideas that drive the SPE local events, and as always, solicit your feedback.  The particulars are:

Core Technology Molding Corporation

2911 Gate City Blvd.

Greensboro, NC 27401

September 19th, at 5:00 PM

Cost is $25.00 for members and $30.00 for non-members.


Stay healthy and above water! I am sure you all have had time to get somewhat used to the special circumstances around the virus coming from a place that must not be named. So I am not going to regurgitate all the tangent information here. However, as an instrument provider, we see that businesses are again starting to invest in new machines, and ask for on-site support. As businesses are getting back into the swing of things, remember that there will be a backlog for services and parts et al. So if you foresee a need for services or parts, better get a PO to your vendors asap, to be one of the first, and not one of the last ones serviced.

Also, while your management will have published special rules how to act now, be sure you follow those rules! Not only for your own sake, but you do not want to get into a position to defend yourself, if a litigation wave follows.

Our Section will is planning a zoom conference for our members. If you have suggestions for topics to be covered, please send us a note under “contact”. Thank you … hope to see you soon again!