CLEVELAND—The rubber industry need not look very far to correct its image problem, according to a longtime rubber executive.
The very people who work in the industry—those who witness such substandard practices as dirty work sites, poor safety habits and overall inefficiencies—can help reverse perceptions prevalent both inside and outside the business.
Joseph Walker, corporate director of material development and chemical regulatory compliance, Americas, for Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies Inc., said competitive peer pressure can change how some rubber companies act, and thus change how others, especially those considering a career there, perceive the industry.
"If you're competing with a company that is, let's say, not modernized, and you know that, you have an obligation to your own company to point that out," Walker said after delivering the keynote address Oct. 8 at the ACS Rubber Division's International Elastomer Conference in Cleveland. "If something goes wrong, you have the technical wherewithal to figure out what went wrong, and you have steps in place to prevent those things from going wrong."
Walker said it is incumbent on anyone, from an employee to a salesman to a competitor, to make others aware of any problems within a company, particularly those that prevent a manufacturer from selling its goods.
"You get enough commercial people to deliver that message," Walker said, "and the owner will have to listen, or they'll have fold up their tents and go home."