HOUSTON—The International Institute of Synthetic Rubber Producers is searching for a new managing director, a candidate with SR industry experience, a technical bent, a good understanding of the issues the business faces, a person ready to tackle a second career.
In other words, the IISRP wants another James McGraw, circa 1999.
McGraw's decision to retire in June 2015 launched the hunt for a successor to the man who has served as managing director and CEO for 15 years. He said the goal is to have a replacement come aboard at least six months before he leaves, to provide adequate time to learn the position before McGraw and his wife, Pat, begin heading back to their roots in Indiana.
It has been a fascinating “second career,” said McGraw, whose first career at American Synthetic Rubber Co. prepared him for the journey.
A 40-year veteran of the SR business, McGraw grew up near Corydon, Ind., a small, historic town 30 miles west of Louisville, Ky., where ASRC was located. Living on a farm, McGraw said, helped feed his interest in anything mechanical.
“To my dad's despair, I would tear apart lawnmowers and tractors,” he said. He went on to earn a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at Purdue University. While working at ASRC from 1975, he attended night school and obtained a master's in engineering management from the University of Louisville.
Starting off in utility engineering at the SR company, McGraw oversaw the construction of a wastewater treatment plant, so ASRC would be in compliance with an Environmental Protection Agency order. The new Clean Air Act was bringing with it new regulations, and since ASRC had no regulatory officer, McGraw suggested the firm create such a position.
“They said "OK kid, you got it,' “ McGraw said, and he began his education in regulatory affairs. That gave him his first experience in the IISRP, when he joined the group's Environmental Health Committee in 1979. He ultimately became chairman of that committee, during a period of much regulatory action via the Clean Air Act.
“We basically took on the EPA to make sure regulatory programs would actually be cleaning up the environment, but would be something the industry could work with and implement, and not be a burden on the industry,” he said.
The EPA initially planned to create “a one-size-fits-all” regulation, McGraw said. “You can't do that in this industry,” as SRs differ from each other. The IISRP invited the agency's staff and contractors to visit SR plants to see and learn how they operate.
The cooperative effort succeeded, McGraw said. “They developed a different regulatory program for each elastomer type, which has been very successful.”