A conversation with Christopher Cathcart

Christopher Cathcart

President and CEO, Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA), Washington, DC (USA)

AEROSOL EUROPE: Mr. Cathcart, after 17 years of successful work as president and CEO of the CSPA, you are retiring in January 2017. Very briefly, of which successes are you especially proud?

Christopher Cathcart: The association’s reputation is very strong and that applies to all of our divisions, particularly to our aerosol products division. We are an association that does everything it can to reach out and make sure we find a constructive pathway forward. We engage all parties. We represent our members’ interests. This has become our brand as we collaborate and engage. Of all the things we have accomplished over the years, our reputation what I’m most proud of. We are honest brokers and I think that serves the interest of the membership very well.

AEROSOL EUROPE: What advice would you give your successor?

Christopher Cathcart: The association is in very good shape, including financially. CSPA has clear direction thanks to our strategic plan. My advice to my successor is to get to know your staff. They are all wonderful people  — very dedicated and professional. Our membership is engaged and want the association to be successful. I think all signs are positive for the new President and CEO.

AEROSOL EUROPE: In your opening speech at the Annual Meeting, you mentioned briefly that you would be devoting yourself to new “tasks,” especially to your family. Will you still be available to advise the association?

Christopher Cathcart: Absolutely. It has been my joy to work with such a fine group of companies and corporate professionals and staff. I will be available to help them out if they need anything. If my successor needs to confer with me, I will be happy to do that.

AEROSOL EUROPE: From your point of view, what topics will be especially important for our industry in the near future?

Christopher Cathcart: I think there are several things that we will need to watch. With the change in the political leadership, I expect that we will see a shift more to the state and local level when it comes to dealing with chemical management, ingredient disclosure, and waste disposal. I also believe we will see more engagement with retailers. We have to be prepared for the possibility that there will be additional issues or potential constraints being proposed at the state or local level, which could affect how we get our products to consumers.

AEROSOL EUROPE: In your speech at the Annual Meeting, you also mentioned CARB. What is the current state of things here?

Christopher Cathcart: We have a good working relationship with CARB. The big challenge is meeting the VOC reduction requirements year after year and what impact that has on the efficacy of the products that we are trying to get to consumers. I think that is an ongoing concern for all of us in the industry.

AEROSOL EUROPE: With the death of Doug Fratz, we have lost an internationally recognized aerosol expert. Is there any way we can make up for such a loss in the short term?

Christopher Cathcart: We have a good team on staff but nobody thinks that they could fully replace what Doug learned over a whole lifetime of professional work. The next President and CEO will be working to hire another senior scientist to join the CSPA team. In the meantime, with Kristin Power, the Staff Executive for the aerosol division, who understands advocacy relating to aerosol issues and with the support of our in-house scientist, Dr. Steven Bennett, we are in good shape. It is not the same as if Doug were here, but we want to carry on Doug’s legacy.

AEROSOL EUROPE: Can you provide us with current production figures for aerosols for the American market?

Christopher Cathcart: I’m pleased to say that the U.S. aerosol products industry remains strong and is growing. According to CSPA‘s Aerosol Pressurized Products Survey, the U.S. aerosol sector lodged historic highs in production, with the total number of units filled in the U.S. hitting 3.820 billion units in 2015. This represents a 0.6 percent increase from 2014. CSPA’s comprehensive snapshot of the U.S. aerosol industry is a powerful tool that businesses have used for more than a half century to inform planning, investment, sales, and research and development decisions.

AEROSOL EUROPE: What will be the challenges for our industry in the medium term?

Christopher Cathcart: With the political change in the U.S., we have to understand what it will mean with respect to how our products will be regulated at the federal level versus state and local levels. If there is a perception that there is going to be a relaxation of federal regulation, will the states then step up? Whether this actually happens, almost doesn’t matter. If states perceive there is weakening of regulation, they may step up and there could be even greater activity.

AEROSOL EUROPE: Mr. Cathcart, we thank you for this conversation.