(From the July 23, 2012, issue of Rubber & Plastics News)
AKRON—I can't find Rocky Schilens.
This disappoints me greatly. I searched the Internet, thought I was close, but haven't succeeded.
Who is, perhaps was, Rocky Schilens? Well, back in the day, the day being 1989, the issues of Rubber & Plastics News often included a 5x7-inch postcard, addressed to the editor, which was me. It boldly stated the following:
“SPEAK OUT! Give Rubber & Plastics News a piece of your mind—write a letter to the editor. Tell us your thoughts on industry issues, stories that have appeared in RPN or on other subjects. Just jot down what you have to say in the space below. Then drop the card in the mail—we'll even pay the postage.”
I love letters from readers, but this card wasn't my idea. You could tell that by the capital letters and, especially, the exclamation point that led it off. That's a sales and marketing approach, not editorial. And, anyway, I have a mania about such writing devices: TEENAGE GIRLS PUT THINGS IN CAPS WITH LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS. NOT ADULTS!!!!
Attached to the card was an ad, and the idea was spawned by a publisher, since departed. He created it to make money for the publication, which was his job, but thought asking people to write letters would turn it into an editorial product.
I recall he wanted to charge half the cost to my editorial budget. Not that it bothered me. I just happen to remember it à 23 years later.
In any event, we never got much response. People in the rubber biz, from my experience, are not very interactive with publications. I chalk that up to fear of retribution from their employer or customers. Oh, I hear lots of bold talk from people in the industry, and often ask them to send us an email, comment online, or write a letter to the editor.
Just doesn't happen all that often.
But Rocky Schilens, he was different.
He identified himself on the card as a project manager for Turner Construction in Cincinnati. The card, postmarked Jan. 28, 1989, has been sitting in a file in my desk for a couple of decades.
I want to talk to Rocky, if he's still available, and ask him about his comment. Here, in total, is what he wrote:
“I like rubber. It is cool. Plastic is alright, but it is no rubber.”
Rocky, I couldn't agree with you more. Plastic—yeah, it's OK. You can do a lot of things with it. Read Plastics News, one of our company's publications here in Akron, to find out all about that. Nice people working there, good, newsy publication. But as Rocky put it so succinctly, “it is no rubber.”
Plastics is in our publication's name, but our readers certainly know we don't cover that field, unless you want to call thermoplastic elastomers or polyurethanes plastics (we don't). We're all about rubber.
But Rocky—I wonder why he liked rubber. It's not like he worked for a rubber company, or a supplier to the industry, or wrote about it every day. Maybe he enjoyed the qualities rubber provides in construction materials Turner uses. I hope so.
Maybe he'll read this and tell me.
Noga is the editor or Rubber & Plastics News.