On April 30, 1996, Tom Robison packed up his clubs and drove his cart from the Products Finishing green. TR, Products Finishing's publisher and editorial director has retired.
He joined Products Finishing when I was five years old. Little did I know as I skipped off to kindergarten that my future teacher was beginning his learning experience in the world of finishing and publishing.
Tom's first true love is the game of golf. Appropriately, the July 1967 (his first month with the magazine) cover of Products Finishing featured golf clubs. The article, by then editor, Ezra Blount, discussed black chromium plating and colorizing golf club heads.
Tom's first article appeared one year later, in the July 1968 issue. The cover, inappropriately, was a lawn mower. The article, "Finishing Homko Equipment at AMF Western Tool," covered automatic replenishment of pre-paint chemicals as well as the complete paint finishing line at the lawn mower manufacturer, which was in Tom's home state of Iowa.
Tom started as an assistant editor for the magazine. During the past 29 years he worked his way through the ranks to the role of publisher/editorial director.
Now, with the history aside, I would like to tell you about the Tom Robison I know. He is one of the most intelligent individuals I have ever met. There were few instances where he could not answer one of my questions on finishing. He honed my writing ability and taught me how to focus on what was important to the finishing industry.
He enjoyed a good party. And could be found at PF cocktail parties wearing a silly hat and sporting a boyish grin.
He loved golf. He golfed with finishers, suppliers and others in the industry. He has played Pebble Beach, Augusta and other famous courses. If Tom was not in the office, he was probably golfing.
He is Caring, but not doting; Enlightening, but not preachy; Retired, but not forgotten.
I will greatly miss my mentor.