HOUSTON—It's been nearly four years since Juan Ramon Salinas took over as managing director of the Houston-based International Institute of Synthetic Rubber Producers, and he can honestly say that the job was exactly what he anticipated.
He said James McGraw, his successor and the man who recruited him for the post, was extremely helpful in explaining all the responsibilities and activities.
"I think comparing that moment and today I don't see very much difference between the expectations and the reality," Salinas said in an interview right before the IISRP's Annual General Meeting, held May 13-16 in Seattle.
That's not to say he's accomplished everything he's wanted to during his tenure as the head of the organization that advocates for the interests of the global synthetic rubber producers and others affiliated to the industry.
There are a number of successes he can point to, such as revamping the IISRP's statistical program and implementing its own forecast model. But there also are several things Salinas would identify as works in progress, such as automating the statistical program and getting separate committees active for the affiliated members.
And as is the case with any such institution, bringing in new members and retaining current ones will always top a director's "to do" list.
One of the first things the IISRP's board wanted focused on from early in Salinas' tenure was to update the statistical information that is a key program the institute has provided throughout its history. A new proposal was prepared and approved in 2016.
"The main target is to increase the added value that we deliver to members," he said. "As I see the leaders and members, we focus very much on the intelligence information we provide them. We have tried to increase the reliability of this information."
One way this data was upgraded was by finding different sources of information beside that which it gets from its members, according to Roxanna Bauza-Petrovic, IISRP general director of programs. While members remain the main source for statistics such as capacity, production and utilization rates, the IISRP entered into a partnership with a group in China to bring in more reliable data from that country, home to an estimated 27 percent of global SR capacity.
"We receive information from the entire market, not just from Chinese members," Bauza-Petrovic said. "This helped strengthen a lot of the data. We have built up a lot on that."
When the Chinese market for SR started growing at a torrid pace, she said the IISRP was receiving a lot of data that it wasn't sure was accurate. "With this partnership, we get to confirm a lot of the information we receive. We have a very proactive service. Every quarter we get to review all the data and all the producers, and we give (members) an update on what's going on in China."
The IISRP also built its own forecast model in-house, Salinas said. "It's one of the projects members were asking for a lot at that time," he said. "This forecast is exclusively for the members. We don't provide it outside the institute."
The association used to work with another organization in creating the forecast, but it became difficult to come to an agreement about data, according to Salinas. The IISRP board decided it wanted to prepare its own forecast, which was first published in 2016. The group's managing director said it also was decided to remove the forecast from its book of statistics and offer it exclusively to members.
Bauza-Petrovic said one reason the partnership with the other organization was terminated was because the interests of the two groups became increasingly different. "There were some discrepancies with the data and we never got to an agreement to continue," she said.
The difference now is the data is built on a model the IISRP created and produces data it can trust. It is a five-year forecast, updated every two years. The last one released in 2018, with the next edition to be delivered next year.