HOUSTON—The synthetic rubber industry lost one of its biggest supporters June 8 when James McGraw died in Houston at the age of 70 following a short illness caused by sepsis.
He had a 40-year career in the SR industry, first with American Synthetic Rubber Corp. in Louisville, Ky., and then with the Houston-based International Institute of Synthetic Rubber Producers.
McGraw earned a bachelor's in mechanical engineering technology from Purdue University in 1975, and a master's in engineering management in 1985 from the University of Louisville.
He began his career with ASRC in 1975, where he spent 23 years and held various assignments, all of which included compliance management.
McGraw served the IISRP for 36 of his 40 years in the industry, first as an IISRP chair and active committee member while working at ASRC.
In 1997, he left ASRC and was named deputy director of the IISRP and took over as the association's managing director and CEO two years later. He continued in that post until he retired in mid-2015, followed by a stint as adviser to the Executive Committee.
"We are deeply saddened by his loss," said Juan Ramon Salinas, who succeeded McGraw as IISRP managing director and CEO. "Jim was a visionary leader who had a true passion for the rubber industry and an exceptional commitment to our members. His energy, drive and leadership will be missed."
During McGraw's tenure at the IISRP, the institute expanded to include upstream companies affiliated with the IISRP, along with agents and distributors. He also worked to add members from subsidiaries and joint ventures of producer members.
McGraw also led the IISRP to develop single-product manufacturing benchmarking exercises, the lifecycle assessment project and enhanced statistical exercises. He also managed multi-year scientific research conducted at renowned international agencies that was aimed at meeting members' safety and health needs.
A year after his retirement, McGraw was the recipient of the IISRP's General Award, given to him at the group's Annual General Meeting in New Orleans. In his acceptance speech he said one of the strengths of the IISRP has been that it functions as a volunteer-based organization, with a lean staff and members providing resources to drive the agenda, a model he acknowledged was becoming more challenging.
"During my 40-plus years, I have one keen observation about our industry," McGraw said. "We exhibit a 'family trait' that is unparalleled in any other organization. ... It is a trait you cannot feel, touch or see, but you know it is there. Do not underestimate the power of 'family.' "
He is survived by Patricia McGraw, his wife of 42 years, with whom he traveled the world on his various work trips. Other survivors include his mother, Alma; brothers Mike, Roger and Tom; sister Jeanie Preston; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Contributions can be made to the James L. and Patricia E. McGraw Scholarship Fund at the Harrison County Community Foundation Inc. Call 812-738-6668 for more information.