By Robert Grace
The Plastics Industry Association is searching for a new CEO to succeed Tony Radoszewski whose turbulent 30-month reign atop the trade association ended in late March.
The Washington, D.C.-based group severed ties with Radoszewski on Friday, March 25, and notified staff and the public about the change the following Monday.
The trade association, which goes by the name PLASTICS, has declined to elaborate on what sparked the change. Nor does it seem to be in a hurry to fill the vacant CEO position, preferring instead to take time reviewing potential candidates.
PIA board chairman, Tad McGwire, who also is owner and CEO of Industrial Heater Corp., told Plastics News on March 28: “At this point, I would just phrase it that he’s no longer with PLASTICS. We’re grateful for Tony’s efforts. He led the organization during a very difficult time. As of today, we’re in great shape.”
On April 14, however, McGwire told Plastics Engineering in an email, “Our board of directors has formed a CEO search committee which has already met and is moving forward with a sense of urgency. There is not, however, a hard timeline, as we want to be sure we select the right person for the job. The position of CEO at PLASTICS comes with a significant portfolio of responsibilities that includes multiple constituencies and a global reach. We are excited about the future of the association and are seeking leadership that will reflect and build on that enthusiasm.”
Radoszewski’s departure happened following a significant amount of staff turnover and after some difficult pandemic-related challenges that caused the Plastics Industry Association last year to cancel its triennial NPE trade show in Orlando, Fla.—the single biggest source of PLASTICS’ funding.
In 2019, before Radoszewski took the reins, PLASTICS was already suffering some high-profile member defections, including Dow Inc., S.C. Johnson & Son Inc., PepsiCo and Coca-Cola. Plastics processing giant Berry Global Inc. also declined to renew its membership when it expired at the end of 2021.
McGwire said in late March that the association had not named an interim CEO and he indicated that the existing executive leadership team would manage the group’s affairs for the time being. That group includes Glenn Anderson, vice president of industry and member relations, Matt Seaholm, vice president of government affairs, and Wayne Popham, chief financial officer.
Radoszewski, who lives in Texas and never relocated to Washington, previously had served for more than 13 years as president of the much smaller Plastics Pipe Institute. After an extensive search by a recruitment firm, PLASTICS named him as its new leader in summer 2019, and he assumed the post three months later.
Former plastics machinery executive Bill Carteaux led the group from 2005 till his death in December 2018 after a long battle with acute myeloid leukemia. Patty Long, an eight-year PLASTICS veteran and its chief operating officer, stepped in following Carteaux’s death and served as the group’s interim president and CEO until Radoszewski took the helm.
Radoszewski then oversaw a major shake-up of PLASTICS’ senior management ranks in December 2019, which included seeing Long, three vice presidents and a human resources official all terminated and escorted unceremoniously out of the building.
Kim Holmes, the group’s foremost sustainability expert, chose to leave PLASTICS in November 2019 to head her own consulting firm in Portland, Ore. She had been the face of the association’s sustainability efforts for nearly seven years.
There have been other significant staff departures more recently, as well. Since just late last year, those leaving PLASTICS included: Chief Economist Perc Pineda, who joined in 2017 and was also a member of its executive leadership team, as well as the staff heads of the Equipment Council and the Processors Council, and a top government affairs lobbyist for the West Coast.
A former PLASTICS staffer said: “Bill Carteaux wasn’t perfect, but he spent years building a culture of collaboration, and Tony didn’t share those values. So, staff found themselves working in a very different environment than the one they had signed up for.”
The same ex-employee suggested that, while the challenges related to cancelling NPE2021 were largely unavoidable, “poor communication before, during and after” the episode only exacerbated the situation and strained relationships with some key member companies.
PLASTICS rolled out a 2021 to 2023 strategic plan that focused on four pillars: advocacy, communications, engagement and sustainability, or ACES. Some members say they are frustrated at the lack of visible progress with these goals. One former high-level staffer observed that, particularly for a broad, multifaceted organization such as the Plastics Industry Association, “Being a CEO is not a spectator sport.”
Radoszewski did not respond to requests for comment.