Chris Whiston, a longtime pigment industry leader, passed away in his sleep last week.
Mr. Whiston’s career in the pigment industry spanned many decades, most prominently with Ciba. He also worked at Fabricolor, and retired from Toyo Ink’s pigments division a few years ago. In addition, Mr. Whiston was also involved in the launch of the IndigoB2B.com pigment web site during the late 1990s.
His friends recalled Mr. Whiston as a one-of-a-kind individual, both as a business leader as well as a friend.
Paul Legnetti of Breen Color knew Mr. Whiston for more than two decades, beginning when they worked together at Ciba.
“It was my pleasure to know him for 25 years,” Mr. Legnetti said. “Chris made many contributions to the pigments industry and to Ciba’s pigment business. He was a driving force behind Ciba’s highly effective sales and marketing efforts for much of his career. He vision helped forge the sales and technical service organizations that led to the launch of products like Pigment Yellow 62, Violet 23 and Red 254 into the plastic and ink market.
“He personally mentored many of the younger people in the organization and some of the older types as well,” Mr. Legnetti added. “You will never meet anyone who knew Chris who will say that they did not learn something from him. Many of us owe much of the success we have had in our careers to Chris and what we learned from him.”
William L. Baker, global sales director - Performance Specialties for Ashland Specialty Ingredients, knew Mr. Whiston for 20 years.
“Chris was known for his strategic view and straight-forward approach to the industry,” Mr. Baker recalled. “Chris was a champion of a specialty model in the more commoditized market of pigments for inks, and he was quite successful in the 1990s bringing in consistent profitable growth, even in years with declining market dynamics.”
In recalling Mr. Whiston, his colleagues talked about their friendship with Mr. Whiston.
“He was quite a character, and stories of him are legion and legendary,” said Eric Finkelman, vice president, general counsel and secretary, Sun Chemical Corporation, who knew Mr. Whiston for more than 15 years, from their time at Ciba’s Newport site.
“One point in my mind stands out about Chris,” Mr. Baker said. “In a program we employed at Ciba, Chris defined himself as someone that wanted to be remembered as a ‘clever person.’ Chris always looked at things from a different perspective and always challenged the status quo. If/when Chris disagreed with the direction of a conversation, we could always count on an interjection which invariably started with ‘ 'Scuse me.....’ (said with a heavy British accent). At that point we knew the discussion would start to get interesting. I would say that Chris met his objective as being remembered as being clever.”
“Chris was actually a shy, quiet guy who took absolute joy in just hanging around with his friends,” Mr. Legnetti concluded. “He was a warm, caring man who cherished his family and friends. He loved a good time and he knew how to share it with others. Chris came to visit my wife and me right after our first child was born. He just showed up at the house with a bottle of champagne, some flowers and a toy for the baby. He was always doing caring stuff like that, but he never made a big deal of it. He was a good man. I was privileged to be among his friends.”