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.
I bought my first personal computer in 1986 in Lawton, OK while at the Field Artillery Officer’s Advanced Course. The IBM PC Jr. was little more than a word processor, calculator and organizer of digital 3 X 5 cards. And, it was the coolest thing ever.
The Wonderful IBM PC Jr.
Fast forward 1994….my first email address… SomethingSomethingSomething@Compuserve.Com. For those of you too young to experience going from a world with no email to a world with email, that was something special. Nothing short of amazing. Fast forward to 2014… email is amazing alright. An amazing pain in the … More…
On December 15, 2013 I posted an article, GSP Reinstatement. Help or Hurt the Chemical Industry?? which reiterated the need for businesses to press Congress to reinstate the General System of Preferences (GSP) and offered ways that companies could make their voices heard. In short, by allowing the GSP to expire, Congress is forcing all importers, small and large to have customs duty preferences revoked without notice or recourse – thus creating unanticipated increase in duties paid, a direct (and completely uncalled for) negative impact to their bottom line. In a recent post by The Coalition for GSP titled GSP in 2013: Companies Should’ve Saved…Could’ve Hired?, Jeff Wright (Exec VP and CFO of TRInternational, Inc) points out the actual unanticipated loss for his company…the result of which causes our company not to be able to hire 1 or 2 people to spur its growth. Here is the excerpt:
TRInternational, Inc. (TRI), a global wholesaler of industrial chemicals, headquartered in Seattle, is just one of the companies forced to pay higher tariffs because of Congressional inaction. In the 20 years TRI has been in business, it has made the Puget Sound Business Journal’s “Top 100 Fastest Growing Private Businesses in Washington State” list on three separate occasions. Yet the absence of GSP has cost the company more than $50,000 in higher customs duties (as of this writing the amount now approaches $70,000)
As noted by Jeff Wright: “On an annual basis, that’s 1 and 2 new hires that TRI could be employing to help our growing company and the Puget Sound region.”
Surely this is Congressional inaction that must be rectified immediately. Job Creation. Stunted. Seems like a no brainer to me. Do you agree? What is the counter argument?
If you feel as strong as I do, and we do at TRInternational, Inc (TRI) please act to support the immediate retroactive renewal of the U.S. General System of Preferences.
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.
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…
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…
Since its inception in 1976, the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) has provided US importers with access to competitively-priced products, supported U.S. jobs, promoted economic growth in the developing world and supported favorable labor practices by offering a competitive advantage to companies from applicable countries.
As of 2012, the number of beneficiary countries and territories came to 126 (43 of which are “least developed countries”), the number of tariff lines eligible for GSP was 4,980 and the dollar value of imports cleared under GSP reached $19.9 B. A total of $742 M were saved on products ranging from ferroalloys, fiber optic wires, jewelry and petroleum oil.
Regretfully, the U.S. government failed to reinstate GSP in August of this year and since that time, companies small and large are paying significantly more for their imports (lest anyone feel this program only benefits the “big guys”, see the Coalition for GSP’s website which advises 78% of their members are business with less than 100 employees and that the “typical” company has just 15 employees). More…