There are plenty of examples in the intensely competitive rubber industry of people, companies, labor and management being uncooperative.
This isn't one of them.
Cooperation is at the heart of a plan to develop a special five-day course for rubber technicians at the University of Akron. It's an idea rapidly heading toward fruition because of the efforts of the ACS Rubber Division, the University of Akron and a number of rubber industry companies.
There has been wide industry interest in creating the program for several years, and with good reason.
Typically, when a rubber company hires a qualified beginner to work in, say, the lab at a plant, there's a breaking-in period of as long as three months.
There's a world of difference between being taught to do something and actually doing it. For rubber companies, the time a new rubber technician spends learning the ropes costs money. Additionally, the instructor is sacrificing his or her own time during the training period, and that cuts into the experienced person's productivity.
The Rubber Division/University of Akron course would give some relief.
As currently planned, participants in the course would pay about $900 each, money well spent. But that wouldn't cover a variety of other expenses needed to get the program going, such as equipment and modification of the university's building to handle a rubber lab.
Rubber companies have rallied to fill much of the equipment needed.
By doing so, they've again demonstrated that when it comes to sponsoring activities for the good of the industry, rubber firms are quick to step forward.
Meanwhile, the Rubber Division has shown it accepts its role as the pre-eminent technical organization in the business.
The division is spearheading the effort to get the program in gear. And during the group's spring meeting in Philadelphia, the division hierarchy was planning to vote on a proposal to donate matching funds up to $15,000 for every dollar a company or individual provided to the project-on top of $29,500 it already had committed.
I don't think there will be any problem getting the extra funds and equipment. In a mutually beneficial project such as this, the rubber industry shows its smarts.
Noga is editor of Rubber & Plastics News.