During my nearly three decades covering the rubber industry, I've met numerous people I like and respect. Near the top of that list is Joe Walker, Freudenberg-NOK global technology director for materials and laboratory services.
Walker is one of those "rubber industry lifers," and unabashedly so. I recall interviewing him several years back at a Rubber Expo in Cincinnati, during his year-long stint as ACS Rubber Division chairman.
He has strong opinions and he's not shy about sharing them, which makes him a dream interviewee for a journalist. He talked freely about the rubber industry's image problem and what it needed to do to recruit new and younger blood into the business.
The Freudenberg-NOK executive also is well-connected. Besides Rubber Division, he's active in numerous other organizations and is a frequent presenter at conferences.
So when Rubber & Plastics News decided last year to produce a Rubber in Automotive conference, I knew that getting Walker to agree to serve as conference chairman would be key to putting on a strong program. And nothing that has happened since has changed my mind.
Walker's vision for the conference is simple: "To provide information, insight and dialogue between the customer for, and the manufacturers of, rubber products used in automobiles." He wanted the program to not just be a collection of technical presentations, but a mix of papers that cover the current state of the industry, future drivers of the business, and innovation.
And the lineup of speakers lined up for the conference—to be held June 13-14 at the Marriott in Troy, Mich.—reflects that vision. Each day will have a keynote speaker, with John McElroy, the host of Autoline Daily and Autoline, kicking off the June 13 session, and David Cole, chairman of AutoHarvest, delivering the keynote on June 14.
In total, there are more than 20 presentations planned. So many were interested that Walker had to put several deserving proposals on a waiting list.
Buzz for Rubber in Automotive is strong, as can be evidenced by exhibit space for the conference selling out. There still are sponsorship opportunities, and for more information on these, contact RPN Sales Manager Brent Weaver at 330-865-6119 or [email protected]; or RPN Sales Representative Pete McNeil at 330-865-6109 or [email protected].
With so much of the rubber industry tied to automotive, I'm sure you won't want to miss this event. Early bird registration runs until May 15. The price for attendees from companies that manufacture rubber products is $450 until that date and $550 after. For suppliers to rubber product makers, the cost is $800 until May 15 and $900 after that date. Registration includes a luncheon on the opening day and a networking reception that evening.
See you there.