By Mike McNulty, Rubber & Plastics News
Akron, Ohio -- The Polyurethane Manufacturers Association was formed in 1971 as a business and social organisation to promote the use of urethane and deal with key issues facing the industry.
Thanks to US governmental agencies, the undersized association became much more than that. A little known curing agent, MOCA [4,4-methylene-bis (2-chloroaniline)] put it on the map, tested every member's mettle and turned it into a group to be reckoned with.
Few observers figured the PMA could survive the MOCA battles that began in 1973. But it did more than survive, it grew. And 2011 marks its 40th birthday.
It overcame several major obstacles to survive -- including governmental actions to wipe out MOCA that resulted in long, drawn-out battles and the decision by some large companies to avoid the fray by leaving the PMA and pulling their support.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration decreed 4,4'-methylene-bis (2-chloroaniline), or MOCA, the primary curing agent for urethane, was unsafe and placed it on a list of chemicals that allegedly caused cancer. The PMA disagreed: "MOCA never caused cancer in humans," said Jay Meili, a charter member of the PMA. And without the agent, he said, a number of smaller cast urethane product manufacturers could have gone under.
The PMA had to fight, said Meili, who at the time was the owner and president of Port Washington, Wis.-based Molded Dimensions Inc., and had particular knowledge about the science of urethane-he holds a doctorate in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
So the little organisation took on the giant agency and others in long, drawn-out battles as the PMA expanded its ranks in the national spotlight over the next two decades.
It emerged from the fight with a reputation "for actually being able to take on the government and protect the rights of our members from unreasonable regulation," said Walt Smith, another PMA charter member.
See more on the PMA story at www.plasticsnews.com