A Conversation with Steve Caldeira (Premium)

Steve-Caldeira

President and CEO, Household and Commercial Products Association (HCPA), Washington, DC/USA

AEROSOL EUROPE: You have been President of the HCPA for 2 years now. Have you been able to achieve the “initial” goals that you wanted to achieve?

Steve Caldeira: As we discussed last year, we had a name that was confusing to the external world. Consumer Specialty Products Association was not really succinct and did not tell who we are, who we represent, perhaps what our issues might be; somehow they were consumer-related – and by the way what is a specialty product? So, with the support of the board, we did our due diligence with outside consultants and our branding consultants to land where we did. The HCPA. Now, I think, it is somewhat clearer as to who our members might be and what our issues might be. That first and foremost was very important. Secondly, we went through an organizational reset to make sure that we had the strategic skill set to meet the evolving needs of our members and to support the new strategic plan – this was another goal that we had at HCPA. We also commissioned economic data. As most folks know, you need to have a story to tell when you are on Capitol Hill or visiting with state legislators across the country. We needed to have that story to tell and now we can say that we employed 200,000 folks in the US, direct employees, and in 2017 they accounted for $180 billion in revenue. That was very important to achieve. We did that. Those were 3 of our major initiatives. Like any other organization, you need to continue to evolve. As we move forward, how do we continue to strengthen the value proposition for our members at meetings, like the annual meeting, educational contacts, networking opportunities, business-to-business opportunities. We are going to continue to raise the bar in that area, bringing in relevant and meaningful keynote speakers, for example. We are well on our way, we continue to evolve and try to provide the benefits that our members expect and – quite frankly – deserve. 

AEROSOL EUROPE: Since you took office in 2016, the President of the HCPA has appeared at numerous international speaking events for our industry. Surely there’s a reason for this international presence?

Steve Caldeira: First and foremost, the aerosol industry is not just confined to the US. We represent multinationals and they have interests outside of the US. It is not just the fact that I would be in Paris for ADF/PCD, I also go to Canada a couple of times a year. I am on the board of the CCSPA, and I am also part of an organization that includes many countries from around the world where we talk not just about the aerosol issues, but any issues relevant and pertinent to the household and commercial products industry. We think it is important that the main focus should always be on how do we best protect, promote and advance our members’ interests here in the US, first and foremost, from a legislative and regulatory standpoint, but secondarily how do we stay out front on issues that are important to our members across the globe including those in the aerosol industry.

AEROSOL EUROPE: A year ago, you changed the name of the organization, from CSPA to HCPA. How has this name change been received by the industry? And have you been able to achieve the goals that you wanted to pursue with this change?

Steve Caldeira: It has been extremely well-received. I think like anything else it takes time. The name, the tag line, the acronym continues to catch on and not just within the industry. I am involved in many organizations in Washington, DC within the business community and the trade association community and so the feedback from my peers is my own focus group. It has been extremely gratifying to me to be CEO of the HCPA when prominent colleagues in town view the rebranding as very successful. That is rewarding. So we continue to push the rebranding through our communications and marketing adverts, not just within the industry, and as we speak to the media we are very pleased with where we are today. However, like anything else, you have got to keep working it.

AEROSOL EUROPE: Of which successes in 2018 are you especially proud?

Steve Caldeira: We continue to expand the team. We came off a very big landmark achievement in CA at the end of 2017 on ingredient communication. Our government relations in policy activities will always be the first and foremost priority of HCPA. We continue to monitor activity on the state level, continue to work on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on getting the pesticide registration improvement act we authorized. That is still a continuing process; we have been moving from continuing resolution to continuing resolution. We continue the work with the EPA to keep our issues front and center including the implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act. The Laudenberg Act that was signed by president Obama in 2016 to upgrade the chemicals management system for the first time in 40 years. We are continuing to work on issues and we are going to be looking at a national solution for ingredient communications so we do not have to deal the patchwork quilt of different laws in different states that would make life very costly and burdensome for our members. There is never a shortage of issues. It is making sure with the support of the board that we have the right focus on these issues and that we have the right folks on our staff with the critical expertise and experience to drive those issues to execution. We do expect more activity at the state level given the fact that in 2019 there will be a divided government. We hope that this will not mean deadlock. There is probably not going to be a lot of room for federal activity in terms of legislative successes. We need to be prepared to get engaged at the state level. That means having an expanded GR and public policy footprint.

AEROSOL EUROPE: In 2018 you acquired numerous new members; congratulations for this. What in particular do you do when the focus is on members whose headquarters are outside the USA but who are active internationally, especially in the USA?

Steve Caldeira: Most if not all of those companies have representatives in the States. We make sure that we know who they are, who the contacts in these companies are and no matter what of the 7 divisions, that we have that the folks who are responsible for those 7 divisions making sure that we have the appropriate and necessary and timely outreach to those companies.

AEROSOL EUROPE: Initial conversations at the annual meeting in Fort Lauderdale have confirmed that the reorientation and restructuring of the association, the program, are working well. What were the most important reasons for this?

Steve Caldeira: If you don’t continue to innovate and look for new ways to refresh and provide new ideas and increase the value proposition for members, you are going to die or become less relevant, if you will. So, we had made a commitment with the great staff that we have to try to continue to come up with new ideas and ways of looking at how we can improve these meetings and give value to the attendees who come. That momentum has translated to new members coming into the association for the first time or members coming into the association once again, which is very very rewarding. 

AEROSOL EUROPE: Which topics must currently be dealt with primarily in the US aerosol industry?

Steve Caldeira: It is like anything else. The aerosol industry continues to grow steadily and I am trying to figure out how Brexit can impact that, but there is common-sense regulation. We have been working with EPA to take another look at the aerosol industry in terms of the advances they made, in terms of getting some of the products into the safer choice program, and we are trying to project that innovation.

AEROSOL EUROPE: CARB is always a topic. What is the current state of affairs here?

Steve Caldeira: We have a good working relationship with CARB and Joe Yost, who has been working on air quality and VOC issues for a very long time. I think CARB works hard, as it is their job to revaluate air quality within California. The good news is that there has been extremely positive change in the air quality, especially in Southern California, and our goal as the greater pie shrinks with respect to the total number of VOCs as the air quality gets better, slim percentages have therefore become bigger. We are looking to manage how to continue that positive growth in air quality with CARB while still understanding that certain chemistries have to be used in order to have safe and effective products.

AEROSOL EUROPE: Mr. Caldeira, what goals have you set for yourself in the near future?

Steve Caldeira: My job is to carry out this strategic direction that the board sets. I am the leader and my job is to make sure that I build and maintain a great team to implement the organization’s strategic plan. To be a conduit to the industry, a spokesperson on behalf of the industry. I work hard like my team does each and every day to do the best job we can. There is always room for improvement, but I make high demands of myself in order to stay abreast of the issues and to make sure that we are carrying out that strategic plan. That is what we have been asked to do: to represent these great companies across multiple disciplines within the household and commercial products industry.