Was Bill Nye your favorite science guy growing up? He certainly was for David Neering of Crivitz, a community of 972 people in Northern Wisconsin. For youth like Neering, Nye’s popular educational series made science accessible. Using popular culture parodies, the famously slender scientist in a lab coat explained concepts like air pressure in a manner that resonated with his viewers. More importantly, his work paved the way for a generation of youth set on taking their interest in science to the next level, making it a career intention.
That’s exactly what Neering decided after completing a physical science course his freshman year. His career focus became more refined after taking a year of chemistry his sophomore year. He wanted to work with chemicals and make reactions happen for a living.
At the same time Neering was thinking about his career path, the State of Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction called for full implementation of their Academic and Career Planning (ACP) requirements by all school districts. The Crivitz School District chose to implement a required job shadow for juniors as part of their ACP requirements.
Daren Sommerfeldt, Business Education teacher, is leading the job shadowing effort in Crivitz, using his business connections to find the right fit for students. Students fill out career surveys with the guidance counselor and he reviews them. Neering is his sole chemist.
Sommerfeldt had heard of a custom chemical manufacturer, ChemDesign, in Marinette, a community 35 miles to the east, at the border of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He contacted Brian Bourgeois, Employee Development Manager, to ask if his organization would offer his student the opportunity to get a feel for the process and careers involved in chemistry. Bourgeois had experience with college job shadow programs, but not high school. Their approach was to treat the opportunity the same, providing Neering the opportunity to meet with process chemists and lab technicians.
Within one week of the call, Neering was touring the ChemDesign campus, meeting with Roman Leiser, a process chemist and graduate of St. Norbert College. Leiser’s work environment looked like what Neering had expected of a chemist’s laboratory, complete with Erlenmeyer Flasks and precise scales.
His tour of the quality control lab was a completely new experience. It felt more industrialized, with specific areas devoted to different types of analysis. Mindy Doubek, QC Laboratory Manager, showed him the melting point of compounds. Until that day, he had never seen a chemical test like that before. Neering also had never seen the full scale production at a chemical plant. He was ‘blown away’ by the big the reactors, capable of multi-step synthesis processes.
With his valuable job shadow experience completed with ChemDesign, Neering feels confident in his plans after high school graduation. The active junior, who works 35 hours a week at McDonalds, along with participating in school forensics, quiz bowl and cheer squad, will complete his pre-requisite courses at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay and will transfer to Madison to finish his degree in chemistry.
For more information on the Academic and Career Planning (ACP) requirements in the State of Wisconsin, visit: https://dpi.wi.gov/acp
ChemDesign has been recognized for exemplary efforts in increasing youth engagement and interest in chemistry by the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA), the leading trade association representing specialty chemical manufacturers.
ChemDesign will accept their Educational Outreach Award at SOCMA’s 95th Annual Dinner on December 5 in New York City. This is the fourth year ChemDesign has been recognized with a national honor from SOCMA. They have also been recognized for excellence in environmental, health, safety and security. Dave Mielke, president, will accept the award on behalf of the company and its 120 employees at the annual SOCMA awards dinner.
ChemDesign was recognized for its successful efforts to show students and parents that chemistry can be a livelihood for an individual with the right outlook and foundational competency in science and math. In twelve months, ChemDesign employees led chemistry demonstrations and general science discussions with more than 300 children in grades 4-8 and over 300 high school sophomore students. They also formed a partnership with the Tri-City United Way to provide three displays of chemical reactions for kids and adults at their annual Family Recreation Day, a free summer event in the community.
“We are extremely proud of the hard work our employees have done in educational outreach in our region’s elementary schools, high schools and post-secondary colleges and Universities. This award reflects our commitment to fostering interest in rewarding career opportunities as chemists, lab technicians, operators and job captains in our community,” said Dave Mielke, President.
“Congratulations to ChemDesign and its employees on this outstanding achievement,” said SOCMA President and CEO Jennifer Abril. “ChemDesign has gone above and beyond to demonstrate its commitment to helping students connect interest in science to real-world employment.
Since 1921, SOCMA has represented a diverse membership of small, medium and large chemical companies located around the world. To learn more, visit www.socma.com.
ChemStewards® is SOCMA’s flagship environmental, health, safety and security (EHS&S) continuous performance improvement program created from industry’s commitment to reducing its environmental footprint and to meet the unique needs of the specialty chemical industry. To learn more visit www.chemstewards.com.
ChemDesign, www.chemdesign.com, provides chemical toll processing for companies in the agricultural chemicals, consumer, energy, industrial and plastics industries. More than 100 people are employed at their facility in Marinette, Wisconsin. ChemDesign is a recipient of the Educational Outreach Award from SOCMA, the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates through their partnership with the Chemical Education Foundation. ChemDesign has been a member of SOCMA since its inception and is part of their prestigious ChemStewards® program.
In specialty chemical manufacturing, customers each come with unique and highly confidential needs. Each program is customized, which makes the job of providing service an exciting opportunity to go above and beyond expectations.
The customer service team at ChemDesign are the main contacts after a contract is in place. They are a critical connection in building relationships and delivering value.
The customer service team at ChemDesign believes customers choose to work with ChemDesign because of a proven ability to follow through time and time again. For customers, the team is able to provide immediate and accurate feedback and has the knowledge and ability to provide unique reports for each customer.
The level of care customers receive is a direct result of the teams’ ability to be involved with all aspects that go into manufacturing a product. They have close relationships with all departments at ChemDesign.
In general, each customer has a different set of requirements. It is the responsibility of the customer service representative to know details of the project. The team is experienced in providing customized service, which allows them to anticipate needs, before questions arise.
There are other critical aspects the team delivers that goes well beyond traditional customer service. They maintain and track inventory, enter products into customers’ SAP systems and create invoices. They ensure product is shipped out to meet deadlines and contract promise dates. They also provide quality and testing results to our customers, through certificates of analysis.
The customer service team is responsible for shipping of samples as well. From maintaining inventory records, shipment records, and a customer files, the job doesn’t end when the product leaves ChemDesign. Often, there are requests for information afterwards.
With all that’s involved in serving clients in a niche industry, how do you know if you’ve made a difference? As Sue Carlson, a member of the team since 1986 describes, “Customers view us like family, and we theirs. You develop a bond, where you each get support in when you need it the most.” These strong relationships deliver value beyond measure.
Customer Service Best Practices in a Niche Industry
Every day is different. Know the current details of the projects you are assigned to.
Always be prepared to provide accurate feedback. Never give up on finding the right answer.
Commit to learn and grow. Lead a project recap with your team.
Never lose sight of deadlines and key milestone dates
Treat a customer like family; offer support at all times
For more information about ChemDesign’s customer service team, contact us at [email protected]
October 31, 2016 – Marinette, Wis. – Kurt Scott, who has served ChemDesign in an engineering capacity since joining the team in 2012, has been promoted to the position of Engineering Manager. In this new role, he will be responsible for leading the engineering and maintenance teams to advance operations through process improvement initiatives.
Kurt has 35 years of experience in process engineering, quality assurance and capital project development. His engineering management experience includes ten years leading teams of engineers and co-op students.
He holds a Master of Science degree in chemical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin. He completed Six Sigma Black Belt certified training in team leadership and facilitation from the Juran Institute.
David Mielke, president, is impressed by Kurt’s depth of process engineering experience, as well has his mentoring abilities. “An effective mentor listens and understands where someone is at in their development, then tailors their advice accordingly. Doing this comes naturally to Kurt, which is why he is a great fit for his new role with us.”
Kurt is looking forward to facilitating improvements for the rapidly changing company that experiences new set ups on a weekly basis. “I’ve always liked process engineering, which requires you and your team to be flexible and creative. It’s a lot of fun in that regard.”
ChemDesign, www.chemdesign.com, provides chemical manufacturing for companies in the agricultural chemicals, consumer, energy, industrial and plastics industries. More than 100 people are employed at their facility in Marinette, Wisconsin. ChemDesign is a recipient of the Educational Outreach Award from SOCMA, the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates. ChemDesign has been a member of SOCMA since its inception and is a member of the ChemStewards® program.
This summer, ChemDesign provided three internships, one in EHS Safety and two in engineering. For a 125-employee organization like ChemDesign, it is a significant commitment to create distinctive internship experiences.
Bob Martens, an engineering intern from Michigan Technological University, interviewed and was offered the opportunity at ChemDesign when Brian Bourgeois, Human Resources and Employee Development Manager with ChemDesign, came to campus for a Coffee with Industry in April.
Martens enjoys the opportunity to be immersed in the changing of processes with the engineering maintenance and operations teams. In just over ninety days, he completed a detailed pipe identification project, creating original equipment drawings and developing a plan to move a hazardous waste tank.
Ashley Chic, an engineering intern from UW Platteville, first heard of the internship opportunity at her school’s annual fall career fair. ChemDesign looks for the best well-rounded students at career fairs, who exhibit technical and leadership potential. They also screen candidates on their interest in working in the specialty chemicals industry (which is highlighted in this specialty chemicals career presentation by President David Mielke). Chic interviewed and accepted the engineering internship position in October.
Her highlights of the summer include developing visual process boards designed to help determine availability of vessels for planning purposes. The boards help building managers see which vessel trains are available and easily determine what’s currently running. In addition to developing the boards, she also evaluated the changeover process of the quickest crew in the plant to determine best practices to share with the other crews.
Quin Kovar, an EHS Safety intern, is entering his third year of chemical engineering studies at Michigan Technological University. A native of Menominee, Michigan, Kovar appreciates the opportunity to work with a leading employer close to home. His major projects included updated over 750 Safety Data Sheets and evaluating the Leak Detection Awareness Response system.
Martens, Chic and Kovar each stated they are leaving their experience with a deep appreciation for how quickly, safely and efficiently the ChemDesign team can change processes. They all stated they could see themselves working for ChemDesign post-graduation!
Chemicals America, the organization responsible for creating the annual Specialty and Agro Chemicals trade show and conference, expects a record attendance for their 2016 event, to be held September 7–9 at the Belmond Charleston Place in Charleston, South Carolina.
The main exhibitor booths have sold out for the North American show, focused on the chemical products and technologies that have specific applications for the agrochemical and specialty chemical manufacturing markets.
ChemDesign, a sponsor and exhibitor, will be hosting meetings throughout the event, as well as meeting attendees at their booth (#800).
The presentation schedule includes topics designed to address the issues facing domestic chemical manufacturers today, including:
Current Global Trends & Their Impact on the Agrochemical Supply Chain, James E. Mann, Ph.D., Partner, The Context Network
The American Chemical Industry: Economic Trends & A View to the Future, Dr. Thomas Kevin Swift, Chief Economist & Managing Director, American Chemistry Council
Click here for this full conference schedule. ChemDesign will provide industry updates from their twitter feed, @chem_design, during the expo.
The tournament on May 16, 2016 at Manufacturers’ Golf and Country Club in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania was a tremendous success. Sponsors, which included ChemDesign, raised a total of over $30,000 (an increase of $10,000 from 2015) for chemical science tuition scholarships. Cumulatively, over $104,000 has been raised in just six outings for this great cause for the chemical and allied industries and its future leaders.
Did you know ChemDesign is self-funded for health care? As such, having access to protected health information of employees comes with great responsibility. HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) isn’t just a regulation that medical providers need to worry about. It is a real law, and applies to employers who sponsor health plans as well.
The human resources department at ChemDesign made the decision to look to their own talent to understand health care privacy. With solid experience in healthcare and finance, Vicki Kasper took on the challenge of becoming ChemDesign’s first HIPPA Privacy Officer.
Vicki is the quarterback of our HIPAA Compliance Plan, responsible for the enforcement of employee Privacy Rights. She oversees all ongoing activities related to the development, implementation and maintenance of the privacy policies in accordance with applicable federal and state laws. She is required to complete HIPPA awareness training every 24 months.
“I believe the quality of care is better under our self-funded model, plus I’ve seen a shift in employees being in control of their healthcare expenses.” Vicki stresses the importance of being a savvy consumer with every employee, understanding costs and ratings of providers offering care.
Embracing the consumer mindset in healthcare is not easy. She did spend a lot of time explaining of benefits and deductibles when the program began. Now she has Patient Care, a patient advocacy organization based in Milwaukee, to help with many core needs, including:
Claims and billing issues
Cost and quality research
Prescription drug questions
Patient Care is a benefit that ChemDesign provides free of charge to employees. Their advisors act as serve as a liaison between employees and health insurance providers. They will answer questions for the family, as well as for issues involving aging parents.
Patient Care provides the same consistency employees have experienced with the human resources team at ChemDesign. Ingrid Davis, an advocacy consultant with Patient Care, has provided onsite forums for employees to address their health care benefits questions and concerns. She has been the contact for ChemDesign since the program began.
Implementing the self-funded model for healthcare takes considerable time and effort. Why did ChemDesign take on this great responsibility? Ultimately, it is the belief within leadership at ChemDesign that everyone needs an advocate to help them navigate the complicated health care system. Empowered people, with support from people like Vicki and the team at Patient Care, become better consumers of health care and healthier people in the process.
Did you know chemistry majors at Michigan Tech take a career planning course at the start of their sophomore year?
Their Bachelors of Science degree, certified by the American Chemical Society (ACS), challenges students to reach beyond classroom chemistry theory and experimentation. Students work in advanced lab settings, preparing themselves for real-world applications of chemistry.
It’s the focus on early career exploration and understanding that led Brian Bourgeois, Human Resources and Employee Development Manager with ChemDesign, to talk with students on campus in Houghton, Michigan.
His day began with a discussion about the career disciplines in chemistry, specifically how chemists’ roles in research, development and quality control differ. He shared three critical roles chemists are responsible for at ChemDesign.
Research Chemists: These careers focus on planning, investigating, and performing highly specialized and complex scientific procedures and experiments. Research chemists work in laboratories, using their knowledge of reactions to investigate applications or other scientific innovations.
Developmental Chemists: A chemist focused on development works closely with engineering and production teams. They are always looking at methods to improve efficiency, reduce waste, improve product quality, yield, and safety.
Quality Control (QC) Chemists: This chemist performs specific analyses of samples, including raw materials, in-process samples and finished products according to established procedures. Their focus is on determining conformance to defined specifications.
Administration and Business Development: After working in technical or scientific roles, a chemist may decide to move into a managerial role, which can include supervising other chemists, department managers or clients. They can continue their journey all the way to vice president or president. It’s important to point out that a solid background in chemistry is important for these managerial and leadership roles.
Brian also emphasized the importance of focusing in on other skills that need to develop while in school, such as, glassware safety, chemical labeling, storage, waste disposal and troubleshooting the equipment used in the lab. “A good chemist not only understands chemistry, they understand the criticalities of safety and environmental awareness in the lab. When students come to us with this solid foundation, it greatly reduces the learning curve from classroom to the real-world laboratory.”
After a discussion about careers and expectations, Brian interviewed ten finalists (from 92 applicants) for their summer chemical internship. A student with an undergraduate degree in chemistry who is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in chemical engineering received and accepted a job offer to join the ChemDesign team. He will work with the team for three months with the responsibility of assisting in technical drawings, fugitive emission calculations, and performing identifications.
ChemStewards® represents a commitment to improve performance through a system of reviews and independent audits. ChemStewards® is an EHS&S program, now in its ninth year, developed by and for the batch chemical manufacturing industry to reflect a focus on continuous improvement of regulatory compliance, customer confidence, community trust and product stewardship.
“Certified completion of ChemStewards® is a significant achievement for ChemDesign’s employees,” said Lawrence D. Sloan, SOCMA President and CEO. “ChemDesign has shown a consistent commitment to making their process management system the best it can be. SOCMA’s ChemStewards® program is designed to help batch, custom and specialty chemical companies prioritize environmental, health, safety and security improvement. ChemDesign’s successful completion of the program is proof for their customers of their superior performance.”
SOCMA is the only U.S.-based trade association dedicated solely to the batch, custom and specialty chemical industry. Since 1921, we have represented a diverse membership of small, medium and large chemical companies, making us the leading authority on this sector. SOCMA has a global membership of more than 220 companies. For more information on our services and products, please visit www.socma.com.
ChemStewards® is SOCMA’s flagship environmental, health, safety and security (EHS&S) continuous performance improvement program. ChemStewards was created from industry’s commitment to reducing our environmental footprint. Industry created ChemStewards to meet the unique needs of the batch, custom and specialty chemical industry. As a mandatory requirement for SOCMA members engaged in the manufacturing or handling of chemicals, ChemStewards is helping participants reach for superior EHS&S performance. To learn more visit www.chemstewards.com.