Chemicals: Why must we defend our chosen profession? 11

Have you ever been in a social setting and someone asks what you do for a living? You pop up your chest, stand a little straighter and reply ‘I’m in the Chemical Business’. Or, do you actually stand up straighter?  Rather you might temper your answer depending on the audience.

I imagine the chemical industry is celebrated in places like Houston, Delhi, Antwerp, Singapore, and Shanghai – but in Seattle, there is an audience always ready to malign our chosen profession at any opportunity. Sometimes I am in position at the family dinner table to have to argue (i.e. defend) my positions on things like why the XL Pipeline should cut across Nebraska, and have documented my thoughts on fracking as a necessary technology risk while alternate energies become more viable.

At a convention of the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) a few years ago, I got into a choice discussion with a female guest who spent much of the day roller blading while our group was in sessions.  When she took the time to ask about our business, she came over the top with the usual ‘chemicals are bad’ generalizations and I proceeded to explain to her how chemicals were rooted into her life (products in her hair, makeup, pigments in clothes, textile chemistry, etc..).  The best moment for me was when I focused on the wheels of her roller blades and was able to talk about the reaction of such substances as Isocyanate and Polymer being reacted to create PolyUrethane Resin, basically the entire wheel.  And every time she slid on those wheels, a little slice of this nastiness is released to the environment.  So much for her ‘green’ workout.

A label from a "Bio Organic Detox" Foundation Cosmetic.  Chemicals are everywhere.  It's reality.

A label from a “Bio Organic Detox” Foundation Cosmetic. Chemicals are everywhere. It’s reality.

More…

Plane Rides or Video Conferences?? 8

Last weeks post How do Chemical Buyer’s Buy? Will it ever really change? discussed how chemical buyer’s buy and the trends they see moving forward.  The focus was on  personal relationships vs. ‘internet’ relationships and chemical exchange possibilities.  Based on significant feedback (and over 200 replies/comments in various forums – thank-you everyone who took the time to read and comment!), the overriding consensus is that (at least for the chemical industry) the ‘old school’ way of working (personal meetings, anything face-to-face) will continue to rule the day.  I admit that perhaps not many ‘twenty-something’s’  may have taken the the opportunity to weigh-in (perhaps they were too busy placing their chemical spend on-line), but it is reasonable to conclude that any Amazon.com type model will not be taking over the chemical industry any time in the immediate future.

So, this leads to a new question… ‘what exactly constitutes a ‘face-to-face’ meeting’?.  As a business owner with 15 people in our commercial department (i.e., buying and/or selling), we spend tens (100’s?) of thousands of dollars per year on travel.  We also have a conference room filled with the latest and greatest; a 120” drop down hi-definition screen, and Logitech ConferenceCam CC3000e ready and willing to take on all of our audio-visual needs). Can this travel expenditure be effectively replaced by the use of video-conferencing?

The latest in meeting technology...Conference Calls on MSFT Lync.  Seattle, New Jersey, Dubai, Delhi and Capetown represented here.

The latest in meeting technology…Conference Calls on MSFT Lync. Seattle, New Jersey, Dubai, Delhi and Capetown represented here.

I know of  a lot of companies using this technology ‘intra company’, but have not seen/heard many conversations (in the chemical industry anyway), where parties say – ‘let’s meet by video conference’, as opposed to ‘we’ll fly down to Houston and make a presentation’.  It might not be such as coincidence that I am currently on Alaska Flt 730; Seattle – Houston,  to go make such an in-person presentation, although I proudly will be wearing my #3 jersey of the recently crowned World Champion Seattle Seahawks! More…

“Money Never Sleeps”, until…!!! 2

I have always thought ‘Wall Street’ was one of the all-time great movies, not only for enjoyment but as a business movie. There are some great principles to be learned (and also several to be avoided; i.e., Greed is actually not good), but one of the lines I thought is great was “Wake up Buddy boy, Money Never Sleeps”.

My wife runs an event business on our farm, and this year she has initiated a Country Christmas Event starting the day after Thanksgiving.  At 6’6” and a deep voice, I was the clear favorite to be ‘Santa’ for these days.  This would mean taking a few Friday afternoons from my ‘day job’ in the chemical business  at TRInternational, Inc where I am enjoying my new role as full time trader and salesperson (see my blog posted earlier).  November 29 was to be my first day, and suffice to say I had a lot of business stuff on my mind. More…

Do you want your children following you in the chemical business? 4

My friend, and competitor, John Lagae (@greenchemind) published this picture of his son reading in the back of his car.

Do you want your children to follow you in the #chemical business?

Do you want your children to follow you in the #chemical business?

It’s a great photo, and raises the question…

Do you want your children following you in the chemical business?

I’d love to have my children in the business (only if they are the ones that initiate the interest), but I’d like to hear from others. How about those who have 2nd generation involved, or are the 2nd generation?  Pls discuss.