AKRON—The founder of the International Latex Conference, Robert S. Simmons, former Rubber & Plastics News publisher and publications director of Crain Communications' rubber and polymer industry publications, and Donald Sector, longtime RPN national sales manager, retired during the first week of February.
Simmons came up through the sales department of RPN and worked for Crain Communications for nearly 36 years. Sector spent almost 31 years with the publication.
Simmons retires as a vice president of Crain Communications and publisher of Waste & Recycling News, which he founded for Crain in 1995.
He joined RPN as eastern sales manager, based in New Jersey, in 1975, when it was Heer Publications, owned by Ernie Zielasko and Chris Chrisman, who sold it in 1976 to Crain Communications. Simmons was promoted to sales manager in 1979, returned to Akron in 1980 and became director of sales in 1982.
He became publisher of RPN when Ernie Zielasko retired, and held that position until late 2004, when David Zielasko, editor and publisher of Tire Business and son of the founder, assumed that post.
Besides the latex conference, Simmons founded the International Tire Exhibition & Conference in Akron, and led its expansion from a strictly tire manufacturers' event to a conference and trade show that includes tire retailing and all other sectors involved in the tire field. The event moved to larger quarters at the International Exhibition Center in Cleveland in September 2010. He also started up a number of niche conferences, covering topics such as silicone, molded goods, hose and automotive.
As publications director in Akron, Simmons was involved with Plastics News, European Rubber Journal, Tire Business and Urethanes Technology International, besides RPN and Waste & Recycling News.
“Under his leadership, these titles grew from strictly print publications into brands offering online, video, trade shows and conferences,” said K.C. Crain, Crain Communications vice president and group publisher. “We wish Bob the very best in his well-deserved retirement.”
David Zielasko, also a Crain Communications VP, said one of Simmons' strengths is his ability to see new revenue opportunities for the publications for which he was responsible.
“He was an early adopter of the Internet in trade publishing and introduced the idea of technical conferences to RPN,” Zielasko said. “But probably his biggest contribution was the founding of ITEC in 1994. Produced every other year, the conference and trade show has grown into a major event for the tire industry in North America.”
Zielasko also noted Simmons “was a strong advocate of editorial independence and was a gifted salesman and motivator.”
Sector was Simmons' replacement on the East Coast in 1980. He later moved to Akron and was named national sales manager when Simmons moved up to publisher.
He was responsible for sales for all RPN activities, including print and web advertising, and trade show booths.