CORONADO, CALIF. - Erudite entrepreneur Paul A. Erskine received the highest award of the Western Section of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. at a ceremony May 9. ``This industry has made my life,'' Erskine told attendees at the kick-off dinner for the section's annual conference in Coronado.
Erskine is president of CMI/ Composite Ma-terials Inc., but plans to leave the distribution firm July 1. Now in his 48th year in business, he is exploring ways to use his sales and marketing skills in a noncompeting market.
``Paul is always a real gentleman and fair in dealings,'' said business associate Doug Graff, vice president of composite polymers for McWhorter Technol-ogies Inc. ``He lets employees understand the business and benefit from their own successes.''
Erskine was born in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1926 and grew up in Toronto, and the Detroit area.
He received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1948.
In 1962, he and Van Johns formed Erskine-Johns Co. in Los Angeles, which sold fiberglass products. In other endeavors, Erskine co-founded Plastic Mate-rials Inc. in 1961 to supply smaller manufacturers, bought polyester fabric supplier Ceconite Inc. in 1964 and started Consource in 1980 to distribute thermoplastic resins for Monsanto Corp. General Electric Co. acquired Consource in 1989, when sales totaled $29 million, and renamed the business Polymerland.
In March 1995, Erskine-Johns Co. and its principal competitor, Clark-Schwebel Distribution Corp., merged. The business took the CMI name in July 1995, located headquarters in a Clark-Schwebel facility in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and now has 22 locations and sales of more than $150 million.
``In sales, you must maintain credibility [to] build a reputation for future business,'' Erskine said.