"To me, it was like, 'OK, here's the problem. Here are the tools. This is a solution,'" Monte said. "I'm a solutions-oriented person. I don't care what the hell the business is; it's all the same logic.
A Sicilian Catholic born and raised, Monte compares the science of that logic to that of spirit.
"It's inspired, 'in spirited,' which means the Holy Spirit," he mused. "Which means a lot of the religion you learn is based on true communication with the Holy Spirit—you know, philosophy. I was the only civil engineer to take a philosophy class. It's like, 'Why the hell are we doing this?'"
He approached his patents from this simple perspective, asking questions like, "Why are we doing this," "Why is it this way," and realizing that he could make things better.
When he had other workers in the lab, he said, they would often make chemicals and experimented with different batches, dosages and viscosity measurements. The worker would bring him the report.
"And I'd say, 'Holy crap, that's great.' They would have no idea what any of it meant," he said.
They were data-focused, whereas he was more solutions-focused. He said his advice to someone trying to enter the industry was simple: It depends upon your destiny.
"You've got to work hard, and you've just got to be consistent and persistent. The key to success is just being there every time," Monte said.
Once Monte and his wife, Erika, bought the property to their 6-and-a-half-acre plant, they got to work.
Erika handled the purchasing, accounts receivable and she provided the company and the venue for Sal Monte to do his job.
"My partner in life, Erika, has been a key to my success," he said, "because she's been with me every part of the way."
Erika and Sal Monte will celebrate 60 years of marriage in October.
Kenrich was run by a three-generation family until 2015, when Sal and Erika moved to Florida and run the operations out of there with the manufacturing moved to Tennessee.
The couple has four children—Michelle, a lawyer; Denise, a surgeon; Deborah, a psychologist; and Eric, an engineer—and six grandchildren.
"You know, they say the keys to happiness are to eternalize yourself in your work," Monte said. "To be recognized in the Hall of Fame is that eternalization recognition and that's the satisfaction that 'he' wasn't totally wasted."
Monte has written more than 500 abstracted works and 32 patents. He's given speeches in every U.S. state and has visited 52 countries, including lectures in India, Australia, Japan and South Korea.
"I spread the gospel; it's just good for the technology that I represent to have the recognition to go with it because it makes the technology that more respected," Monte said.
Kenrich makes coupling and catalyzing agents, anti-static agents, plasticizers and other products. The 25-employee firm has been in business since 1945 and at its current location since 1961. Monte is still overseeing the company, though from a chair position, remotely from his Florida home. The coronavirus pandemic helped usher a cloud-based system for the company.
His first commercial titanate was hailed as a new coupling agent for filled polyethylene in 1974.