Leo Goss has spent his entire career on the technical side of the rubber industry and freely jokes, "We don't exactly have great interpersonal skills."
That's why getting involved with the ACS Rubber Division has been so important, he said.
"That's what really helped me to open up and be able to talk to people and look them in the eye, instead of being lost in my own little world," said Goss, who works in technical services at Lanxess Americas in Chardon, Ohio. "I wanted to be part of something bigger than just my 9-5 job.
"Or, 24-7 if you're a plant chemist."
Goss joined Rubber Division executive director and CEO Lakisha Miller-Barclay and three other panelists at the International Elastomer Conference's "Get Involved!" virtual session on Oct. 23. The other panelists were Rubber Division assistant treasurer Anthony Mariniello of ChemSpec Ltd., directors' representative Tina Darnell of Collins Aerospace and past chair Jerry McCall of R.D. Abbott Co. Inc.
Darnell's involvement was limited due to technical issues.
Here are four of the questions they addressed:
Why get involved with the Rubber Division?
For Mariniello, the IEC started as a way to show off goods and wares. But over the years, he had some complaints and concerns. Sue Barr, who was Rubber Division exposition and future sites manager at the time, urged him to get involved. He attended an exhibits meeting and started building relationships with other members.
"From that relationship, I saw more and more value in networking, more and more learning opportunities and more and more ways to expand, not only where my company was, but also where I (was) in the industry and how the technology works," said Mariniello, who started working with the New England group. "The more I became involved, the more I felt like I could give the division. And at the same time, the division was giving me a lot as well when it came to knowledge and experience."
The purpose of the division is to share technology and push education, so getting involved "is going to get you the answers you're looking for," McCall said.
"We're not on an island," McCall said. "Obviously, a lot of our companies are competitive in nature. But above that, there's an exchange of information and technology that allows us to work cohesively together."
How can the Rubber Division help your career?
For McCall, working in sales and marketing is all about networking.
"Who you know and what you know," he said. "Getting involved in the Rubber Division really deepens all those relationships. It kind of puts you in the spotlight, for lack of a better term.
"Once you get on the steering committee and start moving through the ranks, you're going to be in the press quite a bit. Look at it as a lot of publicity for you, your company and your career."
Added Goss, "Not only is the benefit for you, but your company benefits from your exposure and your learning."
Can you get involved, even if you don't have your company's support?
Absolutely, Mariniello said.
"The division is more than receptive to try to work with someone that doesn't necessarily get the support from their company," he said. "We provide value to the industry. We're an industry resource. We've tried to maintain the right pricing-type structure for active memberships and we're willing to work within any budgets to be active or not. The way we have our sessions and the trade show, there is access for people. If it's difficult to make it out to one of the larger national events, your local division can provide every resource and direction.
"We want memberships because we are only as strong as our membership base."
What suggestions do you have to people are apprehensive about joining the committee?
"Just jump in with both feet," Goss said. "What do you have to lose? The friendship and the knowledge that you gain will just make that apprehensiveness evaporate, especially with how I've been treated during my whole tenure."
Added Mariniello, "To come into a committee meeting, the hardest part is walking through the doors if you've never been there. The faces that you will meet in that room will be receptive and open."
For more details on Rubber Division membership, visit Rubber.org/membership.