This year's meeting had a different start, some of it planned (an off-site welcome reception at one of the city's top attractions) and some it not (a protest). The latter event was apparently organized by a group called ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) and was related to lead-paint issues. The group managed to enter the association's board meeting on Oct. 22, but was handled professionally and without incident by NPCA president J. Andrew Doyle.
Following the board meeting on Sunday, NPCA opted to hold its traditional welcoming reception off-site at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The event, sponsored by Sherwin-Williams and RPM, enabled attendees to enjoy hospitality in the museum, which pays homage to rock and roll in a series of interactive exhibits, films, videos and artifacts ranging from guitars owned by Jerry Garcia and Jimmy Paige to hand-written music lyrics to props used in videos made for MTV to outfits donned by Rolling Stone front-man Mick Jagger.
Seeing Jagger's long career on display was a perfect lead into the following day's keynote subject matter: longevity. Dan Buettner, an explorer, "Guinness Book of Records" holder and founder of LifeQuest Expeditions, spoke to the attendees about "Blue Zones," areas in the world where the ratio of centenarians is much higher than anywhere else. According to Buettner, the lifestyle and habits of people in these regions, which include Sardinia and Okinawa, have allowed them to unlock the secrets of longevity. (From what we know of Jagger's lifestyle, he does not have much in common with those in the Blue Zones, but he may prove us all wrong and make it to the 100th birthday. The question is, will he be still be touring?)
Following Buettner's address, the annual meeting focused on hot topics in the chemical industry in general–the energy crisis and China.
Tom Keenan, president of Huntsman Corp., provided some insight into how the energy crisis in the U.S. affects raw materials supply into the U.S. coatings market. While increased production, conservation and the responsible development and use of alternatives to oil and natural gas are all fundamentals of comprehensive energy legislation, the extreme volatility in natural gas prices is detrimental to the stability of the energy situation in the U.S.
Tnemec's CEO Thomas C. Osborne - who was on stage as current NPCA chairman - was honored by the association as its 2005 Heckel Award winner.
Ted Fishman, author of "China, Inc.," discussed China's emergence as a world power and its global economic bearing. The country has been a hotbed of coatings-related investment, from both the manufacturer and supplier sides of the business. Fishman discussed China's massive population and the changes ahead in terms of its economic position and population migration to large cities such as Shanghai.
What makes China so unique, according to Fishman, is that it is becoming a sophisticated economy, but it will still be a country that has a very large number of low wage workers.
The conditions make it ripe for local entrepreneurs who are already moving quickly to make the most of the low-wage workforce. Fishman talked about one such firm, Wanfeng, which in less than a decade has grown from a small aluminum alloy motorcycle wheel manufacturer operating out of garage to the largest supplier of aluminum alloy motorcycle wheels in the world and a global seller of alloy car wheels. Now, the company has taken on automobile assembly. Fishman visited Wanfeng's factory, which rather than featuring the robotics often found in modern assembly plants in the U.S. or Europe, has 500 recent graduates of local technical schools assembling cars and trucks, which are being sold to the Middle East for between $8,000-12,000.
Keeping the secret from this year's honoree was not an easy task, as it was bestowed upon Thomas C. Osborne, CEO of Tnemec Corporation, who as outgoing chairman of NPCA, was also on stage to help present the awards.
Tnemec's Osborne (left) and NPCA president J. Andrew Doyle (right) present Daryl Raabe, retired president of Raabe Corporation with his Industry Statesman honor.
At the close of the annual meeting, Osborne handed the NPCA chairman's gavel to Edward J. Donnelly Jr. of DuPont Coatings & Color Technologies.
Also honored during the NPCA annual meeting were six Industry Statesmen. This year's award honorees were: Samuel Cabot III, chairman of Samuel Cabot, Inc.; Richard W. Murry, who worked in the paint and coatings industry for more than 40 years until his retirement from the Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA) in April; Robert Nelson, who retired from NPCA this fall as senior director of environmental affairs after nearly 29 years of service; Daryl Raabe, retired president of Raabe Cor.; Kent A. Raabe, retired chairman and CEO of Raabe Corp.; and Richard M. Rompala, who retired in July as chairman, president and CEO of The Valspar Corp.
Philip L. Pesola, executive vice president of Delta Laboratories, was honored with the Industry Achievement award. Pesola, who was the first chair of the Florida Paint Council in 1996, has served as chair of NPCA's state affairs committee since 2001.
Chairman and chief executive officer-Edward J. Donnelly, Jr., DuPont Coatings & Color Technologies
Vice chairman and treasurer-Charles E. Bunch, PPG Industries, Inc.
Committee chairpersons elected to the board for a one-year term (expiring in 2006):
Architectural Coatings Committee chair-Richard A. Beuke, PPG Industries, Inc
Industrial Coatings Committee chair-W. Rodney Biddle, Reichhold, Inc.
Industry Suppliers Committee chair-Robert S. Berger, Cytec Industries.
Membership Committee chair-James A. Weil, INSL-X Products Corp.
Coatings Care Committee chair-Brock Brownrigg, Sheboygan Paint Company
Federation of Societies for Coatings Technology representative-Yasmin Sayed-Sweet, Alberdingk Boley
Canadian Paint & Coatings Association representative-Denis Blanchette, Canadian Paint & Coatings Association