Robinson joined CPMA in 1976 and led the group, which was founded in 1925, as its first full-time chief staff executive. With the continuing growth of the federal government and the resulting fact that Washington was having a dominant role in the Association’s and its members’ activities, the decision was reached to establish the CPMA headquarters in the Washington, DC area in the late 1970s. Robinson had previously served in the Commerce Department, been on the staff of a US congressman, and managed several Washington, DC-based trade associations.
When asked what he most enjoyed about working at CPMA, Robinson said, “That’s easy: the people. In my career in association management, there is no doubt that the CPMA Board over the years, the management and technical personnel serving the association and others involved in the North American color pigments industry were the most outstanding that I have encountered in any association, and I worked for several, and with many others! It was the people in this industry that contributed most to my staying with CPMA for almost 40 years. I have many fond memories of these individuals, and will always value them.”
Through his 40 years in the industry, Robinson has witnessed many changes.
“The biggest change in the industry is one that is not unique to CPMA, but has been encountered by most manufacturing industries over the past couple of decades – consolidation of companies,” said Robinson. “Trade associations depend on their members, and as a result of company consolidations, there are fewer companies to contribute dues, fewer individuals to serve on committees, and fewer people to take part in association activities. Fortunately, although CPMA has been victim to this like most associations, we have been able to adapt and still serve the members with the programs they need and desire.
"Associations are a very unique American institution," he added. "Alexis deToqueville wrote of their uniqueness in the mid-seventeenth century, and they continue to be fairly unique to America. Another change in the pigments industry has been the increased number of new foreign companies now in the North American marketplace. Many of these companies do not appreciate the value of trade associations, and the result has been to leave the North American companies and those non-North American companies that have long been involved in the North American market with the burden of carrying the full weight of dealing with regulation, an area where associations excel. Consolidation, if it continues, and a lack of appreciation by many foreign companies of the value of joint effort by associations, will be the biggest challenges to the future of CPMA.”
Throughout Robinson’s long career at CPMA he has gained the admiration and respect of many professionals in the pigments industry.
"Larry has done a great job in leading the CPMA for many years,” said Myron Petruch, president, Performance Pigments and Electronics Materials at Sun Chemical Corporation. “He is a wonderful person, well liked and respected by all. Larry is the ultimate professional. He is extremely effective in bringing together and working with a broad array of people and government agencies to get meaningful and tangible results. Larry's contributions to CPMA and its member companies have been tremendous and we will miss him."
“I've worked with Larry Robinson over my 30-year association with CPMA and have always respected his leadership and wisdom,” said Dave Klebine, president of Apollo Colors. “He guided our trade association through many very difficult issues over the years. His knowledge of the regulatory process in Washington coupled with the interpersonal skills necessary to bring focus to a diverse group of member companies have proven invaluable in serving the best interests of the pigments industry and our customers.”
"Larry has been a great friend to me and ACA for more than 35 years,” said Andy Doyle, president of the American Coatings Association. “As a founding member of the Council of Chemical Association Executives, he has been a leader in the association community as well as in the chemical industry. He is a true gentlemen, and although we wish him well in his retirement we will certainly miss him."
During Robinson’s tenure, CPMA broadened its membership to include Mexican pigments manufacturers, in addition to Canadian and U.S. color pigments manufacturers, as primary members, and opened associate membership to foreign manufacturers that sell in North America, and to intermediates and other suppliers to the North American color pigments industry.
Membership growth rose markedly under his leadership in the late 1970s and 1980s. Company consolidations that have been a fixture for the past generation throughout North American manufacturing industries also impacted the size of CPMA, but the association has maintained its strong position as a leading chemical industry association. Major interests of CPMA have been in the areas of development of the color pigments industry, preservation of the environment, fair treatment in tariff and trade, and worker safety and health.
With Robinson’s departure, CPMA is moving its offices on July 1 to Suite 730, 1850 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036. Its new telephone number will be (202) 465-4900, but its email address remains unchanged at firstname.lastname@example.org. David J. Wawer has been selected by the CPMA Board of Governors to be CPMA executive director effective July 1. Wawer currently serves as CEO of the Massachusetts Chemistry & Technology Alliance, Inc. in Boston, MA.
The CPMA is an industry trade association representing small, medium and large color pigments manufacturers throughout Canada, Mexico and the United States, accounting for the bulk of the production of color pigments in these countries. Color pigments manufacturers located in other countries with sales in Canada, Mexico and the United States, and suppliers of intermediates, other chemicals and other products used by North American manufacturers of color pigments are also members of the Association. Color pigments are widely used in product compositions of all kinds, including paints, inks, plastics, glass, synthetic fibers, ceramics, cement products, textiles, cosmetics and artist products.