AKRON—One successful career is more than enough for most people, but rubber industry veteran Alan G. Veith has had two.
He worked 42 years in research and development, first with B.F. Goodrich Co. for 37 years and then Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co. after the two tire companies merged in 1986. He also has spent 53 years helping establish standards for the industry through his work with the American Society for Testing and Materials, primarily with the organization´s Committee D11 on Rubber.
Veith´s accomplishments in standardization earned him the first-ever Robert D. Stiehler Award from ASTM, which now is called ASTM International. The award—presented to Veith in December in Washington—is for longtime service, leadership and contributions to Committee D11 and ASTM.
The award is special to Veith because Stiehler, who died in 2002, was a colleague of his. "I´m very honored that they would bestow the first one on me," he said. "I´m proud of it."
Veith, 78, began working in standardization in 1952, when a supervisor at Goodrich who was involved with ASTM brought him into the fold. The young scientist discovered his talents in research and writing fit well with the committee work, and he liked helping the industry.
"Standards are vitally important," Veith said. "Industries need them to function."
Over the years, he´s held several committee and subcommittee chairmanships, authored and contributed to new and revised ASTM standards, and written articles for the organization´s publications. In addition to Committee D11, Veith has served on ASTM committees on tires, carbon black, skid resistance and statistics.
He also has worked with the International Organization for Standardization Technical Committee 45, the ISO analogue of Committee D11. "With the globalization of the past 20 years, there´s a need to satisfy customers all over the world," he said. "Standardization needs to be global as well."
During his "other" career in research and development, Veith developed a resume as impressive as the one in standardization. At Goodrich, he focused on materials technology and new test method development for polymer degradation, rubber mechanical properties and new test instruments.
He also specialized in tire research on treadwear and traction performance for 25 years, work of which he´s most proud. "I wrote lots of papers, fundamental papers in both areas that have been used in the industry," he said. "From the opposite standpoint, some have been overlooked, too."
Technical people today, Veith said, are too busy, victims of the staff cutting that in the end leaves more work for whoever´s left. "They´re doing five jobs and they have time to do two," he said.
He was lucky to work in what he calls the "golden age" of industrial R&D, Veith said. Then, if you had a good job at a good company, you were set for life and could spend your entire technical career in one place. "There´s still a few companies out there like that, but they´re few and far between."
While he retired officially from Goodrich in 1991, Veith has continued to stay active through his own technical consulting firm, Technical Development Associates L.L.C. He´s consulted with the Big Three tire makers, Bandag Corp., Continental Carbon Co. and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and plans on continuing work with Michelin North America Inc. this year.
"I believe that when you retire, you have to keep the intellectual juices flowing," he said. "I´ve been able to do that and remain healthy."
Veith and his wife of nearly 52 years, Rosemary, have three grown children and four grandchildren. Like her husband, Rosemary has kept active with a small travel business she runs out of their Akron home, and he doesn´t see them stopping anytime soon.
"I will keep working as long as I can," Veith said. "As long as my brain functions correctly."