Longtime plastics consultant Balaji Singh, founder and president of Chemical Market Resources Inc., died March 29.
Singh led CMR in Houston from 1990 to 2014. The group hosted the annual FlexPo conference on flexible polyolefins.
Singh's family confirmed that his death was not related to the COVID-19 virus.
On his LinkedIn page, Singh noted CMR did consulting work on almost every new polyolefin or elastomer launched into the market during the time he owned the firm. CMR "specialized in high technology value-added products for downstream petrochemicals, going beyond supply, demand and price," he wrote.
Singh was born in India and held chemical engineering degrees from Osmania University College of Technology in Hyderabad, Ohio State University and Texas A&M University. He began his career with Dow Chemical Co. and later worked for Ashland Chemical before moving into consulting. CMR was sold to Australian consulting firm TZMI in 2015.
In retirement, Singh operated Singh Enterprises L.L.C., a specialty consulting firm. For many years, he worked in spite of numerous health problems, including two kidney transplants.
Singh's health challenges led him to credit the plastics industry with his survival because of the many plastics products that were used in his treatments, including IV bags and tubing.
"Plastics have kept me alive," he said several times at FlexPo events. "I wouldn't be alive today without plastics."
Longtime friends and colleagues paid tribute to Singh and his role in the industry. Market veteran Mark Mack described Singh in an email to Plastics News as "a true leader, infusing marketing principles into the polyolefins industry by inventing new methods of understanding customer needs and translating those needs into technical solutions."
Mack now owns his own consulting firm in Cincinnati after many years in the industry with LyondellBasell, DuPont and other firms. He added that Singh was "a very important player" in the market development of metallocene and single-site technologies and that Singh's FlexPo conferences "were very influential," recalling how Singh once invited Greenpeace as a presenter.
Mack also recalled cartoons that Singh drew "to make a point, usually directed at management ... and cartoonists find weaknesses."
Donna Davis described Singh as "an insightful market researcher who analyzed technology developments in the context of long-range market potential." Davis is a longtime executive with ExxonMobil Chemical, a member of the Plastics Hall of Fame and a former president of the Society of Plastics Engineers.
Singh's SPE presentations "enabled technologists to better understand the potential impact of their work," Davis said. "And his sponsored events challenged researchers and producers to think bigger."
She added that Singh was "a friend to the newcomers, shepherding recent college graduates from around the world to understand the business impact of technology."
"All who knew him will carry forward insights gleaned and his optimistic perspective."
Clifford Lee worked with Singh at CMR for six years. He credited Singh with initiating market and application research programs for metallocene technology, which makes up around 15 percent of the global market for linear low density PE.
Lee, now president of the Townsend Solutions consulting firm in Houston, added that Singh handled his multiple health issues with "a commendable positive attitude."
Peter Hanik said that Singh was "an innovator and a dear friend who will be missed." Hanik, the owner of Pretium Innovation consulting group in Houston, worked with Singh on several market projects.
"His methods were very effective at generating information that chemical companies needed to make critical decisions about expansions, new businesses and mergers and acquisitions," he added.
Singh also recognized the tremendous potential in young engineers from India, Hanik said, and he recruited talented young people and trained them in his market research methods.
"This benefited not only the young engineers who went to work for CMR but also the chemical industry that benefited from their newly developed skills," he explained.