History of the LMA by Edward Sherwood 2003

History of the Laredo Manufacturers Association

The history of the Laredo Manufacturers Association parallels the rapid growth of the industrial segment of Laredo's economy during the past decade. The expansion of industry, on both sides of the Rio Grande, has brought not only monetary rewards, but also an infusion of new ideas and added vitality to the community.

The idea of creating an organization focused on manufacturing was first made by Laredo Mayor Aldo Tatangelo at a meeting with eight local businessmen on March 16, 1984. Tatangelo felt it was critical to form a local association that manufacturers, looking to locate in the Laredo area, could identify with. The Mayor also wanted the proposed organization to work on improving vocational and technical education in Laredo. The organizing meeting was sponsored jointly by the Laredo Chamber of Commerce and the Laredo Development Foundation. To form such a manufacturers association, David C. Leyendecker, representing the chamber, and Edward C. Sherwood, representing the LDF, were assigned to make the mayor's concept a reality.

Leyendecker and Sherwood made plans for an initial meeting of the Laredo Manufacturers Association to be held on May 8, 1984. Both men kept busy calling prospective members. There were only 26 companies with manufacturing operations at the time in either Laredo or Nuevo Laredo.

Typically, in Laredo, meetings were held at lunch time to accommodate the preferences of the banking and retail communities. Since manufacturers normally start work early, and rarely care to take extended lunch hours, Leyendecker and Sherwood planned for LMA meetings to be held early, 7:30 a.m., and were planned to last for only one hour--a tradition of the LMA that continues today.

Jim Parish of the Laredo Morning Times and Richard Deibel of the Laredo News were instrumental in getting the organization off the ground through their writing and coverage of early LMA meetings. On May 6, two days before the first meeting, Jim Parish ran a story in the Times which lead off with: "If you are an executive of a Laredo or Nuevo Laredo Manufacturing firm your presence is desired at a Tuesday breakfast meeting at which the organizing of the Laredo Manufacturers Association will move forward."

Sherwood was quoted in the same article as saying: "Laredo Manufacturers Association is being formed to promote the growth of the manufacturing community, to provide advice and guidance to educational, governmental and community leaders on matters affecting manufacturers, and to communicate information and ideas of mutual interest."

The first meeting was held at the Hamilton Hotel, May 8, 1984, at 7:30 a.m.. Seventeen persons attended with nine manufacturing executives present. The 17 were Larry Norton, Eliseo Olivares, Mario Herrera, Jorge de la Garza, Aldo Tatangelo, Richard Deibel, Enrique de la Garza, Eugene Fernandez, Jim Parish, Humberto Vela, Edward Norena, Frank Leach, Dave Leyendecker, Jim Fowler, Jerry Brochin, Leon Ramirez Sr., and Ed Sherwood (the order was taken from the sign-in sheet). The speakers at that first meeting were Cynthia Mares Jackson, and Diana McDonald, both from Laredo Junior College (now Laredo Community College). They outlined the courses LJC could provide to industry to meet their employee training needs. The breakfast served was donated by the Hamilton Hotel.

It was planned that the LMA would meet approximately monthly, and hopefully the association would grow. When the next meeting, held on July 10, 1984, only attracted 16, Sherwood became concerned and raised three of his friends from their early morning sleep to attend the meeting held on September 25, 1984 (the three friends were, unfortunately, unemployed at the time due to the abrupt closing of Meridian Industries of Laredo). Attendance slowly climbed that first year, and by July 1985, six meetings of the LMA had been held with an average attendance of 20 persons. Meetings were held at the Hamiliton, the Hilton, and at the Holiday Inn; numerous organizations helped with the LMA's expenses including the Tex-Mex Railroad, the Union National Bank, The Hilton Hotel, SMT Lines, International Bank of Commerce, and the Laredo National Bank.

The growing LMA organization caught the eye of the Texas Association of Business in 1985, and L.W. Gray, then president of ~TBA, spoke to the LMA on April 30, 1985. He encouraged the merger of the LMA into the TBA organization. The membership of the LMA debated the pros and cons of the merger, but decided to keep its independent status. The primary reasons were to retain a focus on manufacturing, and its unique international membership policy.

Ed Sherwood had been presiding at LMA meetings during its initial year, and as the LMA grew, it was decided by the July 12, 1985 meeting to elect its first official officers. Elected were Jerry Brochin from Sony as the LMA's first president, Ron Marianetti from Delredo as vice president, and Fernando Reyes, Reyes Industries , as secretary-treasurer.

Under the leadership of Jerry Brochin, the LMA active membership grew from approximately 25 to 40. Brochin also helped to direct the formal organization of the LMA-dues were established, goals of the LMA were clarified, and greater input to the Laredo community, especially on educational issues, was achieved. Jerry Brochin also designed the organization's logo, which is still used today.
The LMA also expanded its activities to include, for example, a tour for manufacturers of the Air Logistics Center at the Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio in September, 1985.

In November, 1987, Mark Pease, from R. G. Barry, was elected president for the 1988 calendar year. Also elected were Edward Leyendecker Jr., from CMI, as treasurer, and Ronald La Duque, from Rapidprint, as secretary. The LMA under Mark Pease grew to approximately 70 members, and also initiated the sponsorship of management courses taught by the University of Texas, as well as time management courses taught by Mark, himself.

Ed Sherwood was elected as LMA's third president in December, 1988, for the following year. During 1989, the LMA succeeded in raising its membership to over 100 by the end of the year. Several member training and recreational events were held, and the first formal LMA Bylaws were created and adopted. To celebrate its fifth anniversary, a special salute to the LMA was held at the La Posada on the night of May 24, 1989. This event was attended by approximately 300 persons and was sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce as well as by the International Bank of Commerce, the La Posada, The Laredo National Bank, NBC Bank of Laredo, and the South Texas National Bank. At the LMA's fifth anniversary regular meeting, held the next morning, Prominent Laredo businessman, Vicente Garza, was the featured speaker. Garza was also well known as one of the former TWA hijacking hostages held in Lebanon in 1985.
Before leaving office in December, 1989, LMA President Sherwood created the LMA's scholarship fund with the $1000. left from the proceeds of his term. This was the start of a fund that has substantially grown over the subsequent years; providing technical scholarships for many young Laredoans.

Under Thomas Tomko, LMA president in 1990 and 1991, the LMA grew rapidly, exceeding 200 members by the end of 1991. Tom, from Packard Electric, also created an organized LMA committee structure, including committees to address the areas of budget, communications, customs, environment, government interface, maquiladoras, membership, special affairs, and transportation. He also spearheaded the publication of the LMA monthly newsletter, with contributions by a wide variety of community leaders. The special activities group, headed by Nick Quinn of Packard Electric, initiated the annual LMA golf tournament, which has been responsible for the major growth of the scholarship fund. Under Tomko's leadership, the first LMA Directory was published, resulting in a second source of scholarship funds. In May, 1991, a third source of fundraising was initiated when the LMA sponsored its first Little Theater benefit performance. The play was "Steel Magnolias", and the after-show reception was held at the new offices of the Laredo Development Foundation.

Elected LMA President for 1992 was Earl G. Kennett of the Modine Corporation. Under Earl's leadership, the LMA continued with the awarding of scholarships to area students to study in technical fields at Laredo Junior College, Laredo State University, University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, and Texas A&I University at Kingsville. The LMA also provided funding for an engineering "Math Counts" program, as well as continuing to help sponsor the Junior Achievement program in Laredo. Kennett also presided over the LMA's decision in 1992 to commit to donating $100,000. over a four year period to support the expansion of Laredo State University (now named Texas A&M International) to become a four year university.

Elected LMA President for 1993 was Martin Siordia of the Sony Corporation. Siordia continued the numerous activities of the LMA, adding sponsorship of the "Math Day" at the annual WBCA Carnival, as well as sponsorship of an environmental educational program for high school students called "Project Del Rio." Under Siordia, the work of the LMA committees continued, and a successful golf tournament and Little Theater benefit were held in 1993.

Nick Quinn of Packard Electric was elected as President of the LMA for 1994. Nick's very successful management of the LMA Golf Tournaments each year had earned him the gratitude of the LMA membership. Under Nick's leadership, the LMA planned for its 10 the anniversary and invited former U.S. Secretary of Education, Dr. Lauro Cavazos, to be the featured speaker at the May 20, 1994 celebration meeting. The activity received good local support and publicity.

On April 15, 1994, the Environmental Activities Committee of the LMA held its first annual Environmental Symposium, with over 85 in attendance. The Symposium was chaired by Ed Sherwood, and special guests of the LMA were representatives from the six area high school, Laredo Community College, and Texas A&M International.

Elected LMA President for 1995 was Haven Jenkins of the Weigand Division of Emerson Electric. Haven continued with both the LMA committee structure, and with another successful golf tournament, co-chaired by Nick Quinn and Shawn Pallagi from Parkard Electric. The LMA also held its second annual Environmental Symposium on April 21, 1995, with even a larger representation of area high schools and colleges than last year.

In 1996, a relative newcomer to Laredo, John Malloy, was elected as President, and then reelected in 1997. “Jay” Malloy was General Manager of ITT Automotive in Laredo/Nuevo Laredo. He convinced the board to hire its first paid Administrative Assistant in 1996. With the creation of a staff person, the organization was to expand its activities and to provide a focal point for information to its members and the community. During 1996 and 1997, LMA fund raising was accomplished through publication of its membership directory, and through its Annual Golf Tournament. As a result of these funds, the LMA presented to Texas A&M University the last $25,000. portion of a total contribution of $100,000.

In 1998, John Adams was elected President, and was subsequently reelected for the following year. John was a senior officer with Banc One, but also had extensive prior manufacturing experience, as well as being the author of several books on economic and historic issues. John re-vitalized the Maquiladora arm of the LMA through the leadership of Larry Shaw, Plant Manager of Modine, as who served as chairman of the Maquiladora Committee. The LMA continued to support Junior Achievement in Laredo, and awarded $10,000. in scholarships to local students in 1998. During John’s terms, he brought several outstanding speakers to LMA meetings, and presided over the organization’s 15th Anniversary Gala, with Lt. Governor Rick Perry as the keynote speaker.

Al Poppitt, from Delphi Corporation, served as LMA President in 2000. Along with the normal LMA activities, an expanded LMA Symposium was initiated. The annual Symposium was re-named as the “LMA Annual Symposium—Manufacturing in Mexico & On the U.S. Border”. Under the co-chairmanship of John Adams and Ed Sherwood, the event attracted over 100 attendees during 2000.

James Jackson, General Manager of Cives, was elected as President for 2001 and 2002. Jim guided the re-organization of the LMA, negotiating a partnership with Texas A&M International to provide administrative services. Since then, David Cardwell, from TAMIU, has provided the administrative leadership, as well as serving as Editor of the monthly LMA Newsletter. Also during Jim’s terms, he promoted the sponsorship of monthly LMA meetings at different locations from the normal Laredo Country Club venue.

Larry Shaw, Plant Manager of Modine, was elected as President for 2003. Larry presided over successful golf tournament, membership drive, and the 10th “Annual LMA Symposium—Manufacturing in Mexico & On the U.S. Border”. Proceeds from the Symposium were donated to the United Engineering Magnet School, and to Laredo Community College. During his term, a special 20th Anniversary Edition of the LMA Membership Directory was prepared, and plans made for the LMA’s 20th Anniversary Gala—to be held on May 14, 2004.

Today, the Laredo Manufacturers Association remains an organization focused on manufacturing. It’s non-profit service activities benefit the improvement of education and educational opportunities for Laredo’s youth, as well as promoting sound environmental practices in our community. The LMA is a vibrant and growing organization serving both sides of the Rio Grande.

Edward C. Sherwood
December, 2003