Laurin M. Baker, Founder of The Laurin Baker Group, LLC, has more than 40 years of experience in government relations and public affairs, including 20 years as an executive in Fortune 500 companies in the forest products and recreational marine manufacturing industries. He provides the firm’s clients with senior government relations counsel in the areas of the environment, taxation, defense, international trade and natural resources. He has been a practitioner and a manager of government relations, corporate communications, employee communications and community relations at the state, national and international levels.
Since founding The Laurin Baker Group in 1996, Mr. Baker has successfully represented various corporate and association clients on issues before state, federal and international legislative and regulatory bodies, including Congress and the European Union. For example, he provided political strategy and leadership to a group of steel-consuming organizations that successfully sought early termination of tariffs imposed on imported steel in 2001. He also headed a coalition of industrial fastener manufacturers and distributors, as well as end users of fasteners in the automobile, aerospace and heavy equipment industries, in passage of a major reform of the decade-old Fastener Quality Act.
From 1986-1996, Mr. Baker was responsible for all government relations, corporate communications and corporate philanthropy for Outboard Marine Corporation, the world’s largest manufacturer of outboard motors and a major manufacturer and marketer of recreational boats. He was recruited by OMC in 1986 to start the first public affairs program in the company’s history, and in 1995 he was named Vice President of Government and Public Affairs, the first time the company accorded the public affairs function officer-level status.
During his tenure at OMC, he was principally responsible for a number of public policy successes involving the company and the recreational marine industry, including:
Resolving a ten-year-old environmental issue involving PCBs in the Waukegan Harbor, a landmark Superfund case;
Creating a unique approach to proposed regulation of emissions from recreational marine engines, resulting in one of the most innovative rules ever promulgated by the United States EPA;
Repealing a luxury tax on boats that threatened to sink the entire industry;
Obtaining an agreement from the European Commission to harmonize emissions standards affecting recreational marine engines with those of the United States; and
Developing and implementing a cost-effective state government relations program for the industry.
Prior to 1986, Mr. Baker was responsible for all public affairs efforts in the South and East for Crown Zellerbach Corporation, a major forest products company. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he oversaw the company’s state government relations efforts in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, and was a member of the company’s federal lobbying team.
During his six years with Crown Zellerbach, Mr. Baker was responsible for a number of successful public policy initiatives, including:
Leading a statewide business coalition to completely overhaul Louisiana’s worker’s compensation laws;
Creating a coalition to defeat a controversial proposed state constitutional amendment to increase Louisiana’s corporate income tax;
Developing an industry team to defend the state’s industrial property tax exemption, a major incentive for investment in new plants and equipment; and
Defeating efforts to increase Louisiana’s forest acreage tax and remove its dedicated purpose of forest fire protection from the state constitution.
Before joining Crown Zellerbach in 1980, Mr. Baker spent five years with International Paper (IP) in South Carolina and in New York. At IP, he managed a highly successful educational tour of company facilities in South Carolina for the company’s Board of Directors, including development of an award-winning brochure highlighting innovative forestry measures. He also was instrumental in the development of a comprehensive corporate communications guide, designed to ensure delivery of clear, consistent messages throughout all divisions of the company.
A native of South Carolina, Mr. Baker graduated from The University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism, and a minor in Political Science.