How did you get into the rubber industry?
I’ve been in the rubber industry for almost 30 years! I took the two-year vocational course in polymers in high school, and I wound up liking it so much that I went on to get my associate’s degree in polymer technology from the University of Akron. My first job in the industry was setting up the extrusion line for a plastic lumber company to get a production line of 2X4 pieces of lumber going, and I worked at several major rubber and plastics companies in Akron before joining the Smithers team in 2010. My father and grandfather both worked in the industry as well, so there’s some family legacy there.
What keeps you busy every day?
I’m in charge of mixing and compounding
at our rubber laboratory here in Akron, Ohio. I handle research and development batches and curing processes, along with some physical testing. I also keep a close eye on inventory so I can ensure we always have mixing materials on hand so we can meet our customers’ needs as efficiently as possible. No matter what, I’m usually covered in carbon black by the end of the day if I am mixing.
I also have an associate’s degree in CIS Networking from The University of Akron, so I help my IT colleagues with some of our laboratory computer systems.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Rubber compounds for most products are mixed in huge quantities. If a company wants to experiment with some modifications to a compound recipe or try a new material, it’s more efficient to do so on a smaller scale before committing to a massive batch. That’s where Smithers and I come in. Our small-batch mixers
give our clients the flexibility to develop and evaluate multiple formulations, so they can confidently identify the optimized compound for production. In other words, the work I do helps our clients produce a better product, and I feel great about that.
I also really like the people I work with. We have a great team here.
What advice would you give clients to make sure their testing program is as valuable as possible?
Triple-check to verify that you are referencing the correct and updated specification
when requesting a testing program rather than an outdated one. When we’re testing to the right specification, we can ensure valuable, accurate data and help you get your product to market faster.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
My wife and I like to usher at some local music and sports venues together. We have a son and a daughter who keep us plenty busy. And I’m a huge Ohio sports fan!