NORTH CANTON, Ohio—After spending more than 52 years in the rubber industry, John Long often gets asked why he's not fully retired.
The industry veteran spent 44 years working for rubber companies, and has been an independent consultant under his JMLong Rubber Consultants L.L.C. banner since 2009—based out of his North Canton home—and he said he doesn't plan on calling it quits anytime soon.
"Why should I retire?" he said during a recent interview. "I enjoy it. I love the work, and I'm in the position where I can pick and choose what I want to do and who I want to consult with. If something is really interesting, I can take the job. If it's not, I can decline it. I'm not working 40 hours a week or anything like that, but it's enough to keep my oar in the water."
Not that Long will ever be accused of being a slacker. He worked for B.F. Goodrich from 1965 to 1994, in tire research and development for the first four years before spending a three-year stint at the firm's Oaks, Pa., factory. He was back in tire R&D in 1972-73, before joining the international group for about five years, with stints in Columbia and Brazil.
He returned to tire R&D from 1978-91, then moved back to international technical support until retiring from the company—by then owned by Michelin—on Feb. 28, 1994, and joining DSM Copolymer, a manufacturer of synthetic rubber, the following day.
"I was retired for all of about 12 hours," Long quipped.
He worked from DSM Copolymer's office in Stow, Ohio, serving as technical service manager. In 2005, DSM sold the SR business to Lion Copolymer. At the time he was 64½, so he took retirement from DSM and started the same day with Lion, where he stayed before retiring from there and starting his consultant business.
Long still has contracts with about seven or eight companies, with active projects going on at three or four, he said. He does work for one custom mixing firm, helped another implement a sound deadening material, has done some tire consulting and helped an SR producer with SBR polymerization.
Career of involvement
Throughout his career, Long never has shied away from volunteering his time with a variety of organizations. It started with the Akron Rubber Group—now part of the Ohio Rubber Group—when he served as a moderator or symposium chair. He went through that group's succession of officers, serving as chair in 1985.
That was followed by going through the ACS Rubber Division's officer succession when it was a seven-year commitment, and was the group's chair in 1995.
He said the time he has spent volunteering has been well worth it. "In my work with the Akron Rubber Group, I met so many really nice people and became friends," Long said. "You span the industries. It's not only tires, it's other things as well, and that kind of broadens your knowledge."