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chemistry job shadow

Job Shadow Program Helps Students Explore Careers in Chemistry

By: Brian Bourgeois, Human Resources and Employee Development Manager

Have you thanked your local high school business education teacher lately? These unsung heroes of our public education system are responsible for implementing the Academic and Career Planning (ACP) model created by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. The program’s mission is to empower all students to travel the road to adulthood through education and training to careers. Business education teachers are role models, counselors and advisors. In one meeting, they may be helping a student with their behavioral and employability skill preparation. An hour later, they are discussing career planning with a student who wants to complete a job shadow to explore careers in chemistry.

Laura Scott is responsible for the ACP program at Iola-Scandinavia High School, a rural public school located in central Wisconsin with an enrollment of 329 in grades 7-12. Two months ago, she was introduced to our company, ChemDesign, by a sophomore student interested in chemistry and engineering, Grace Harbridge.

Grace (pictured with her physics teacchemistry job shadowher, Todd Snyder) had done some online research of her own and came across our blog post highlighting the chemistry job shadow experience of a Crivitz High School Student, David Neering. She identified with David’s experience growing up in a rural community with aspirations of being accepted to a nationally-recognized University to study chemistry. Grace told Laura of her desire to tour the ChemDesign campus, located two hours northeast of her hometown.

Within two weeks of her first contact with us, Grace was visiting the ChemDesign campus. She spent her morning in our laboratories. She talked with Roman Leiser, a process chemist, while he was analyzing results on a chemical with light sensitive properties. Alison Cox, a QA analyst, showed her the process for testing samples from the plant. While Alison added a chemical to a sample, the substance turned from purple to pink.

After a catered lunch, Grace spent her afternoon with the engineers. Bob Martens showed her the designs and proposals for adding a new reactor to a production unit. She was intrigued as he described taking off the roof of the facility to make sure the reactor would fit. She was also able to join him in the plant while he did an inspection.

With her valuable job shadow experience completed with ChemDesign, Grace has become more interested in chemical engineering. This fall as a junior, she will take advanced science courses on the UW Stevens Point campus, located about 25 minutes from Iola. Her dream is to attend North Carolina State or the University of Wisconsin.

Our team enjoyed hosting Grace for a day on our campus and wish her success in pursuing a career in chemistry. With each job shadow experience, we are developing connections across our state for students who desire to see firsthand how we make chemistry work.

For more information on the Academic and Career Planning (ACP) job shadow requirements students like Grace are completing in the State of Wisconsin, visit:

Lauren Anderson is Promoted to R&D Analyst

Lauren Anderson, who started her career with ChemDesign as an analyst in the quality control laboratory, has been promoted to the position of R&D Analyst. In her new role, she is responsible for interpreting technical packages for customers, which includes a procedure or plan to create the desired material to specification.

Lauren’s experience using gas and liquid chromatography, as well as other laboratory equipment, will be valuable in testing the reactions she is responsible for scaling up to production.

Lauren earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in human biology with a minor in chemistry from UW Green Bay. She gained applied chemistry experience as a research assistant for Dr. Julie Wondergem. She also worked as an Associate Lecturer in their chemistry department.


ChemDesign to Participate in the InformEx Zone

Informex Zone 20189ChemDesign representatives in research and commercial development will participate in the Informex Fine & Specialty Chemicals Zone, to be held as part of the CPhI North America Pharma conference.

The event, which has historically attracted over 7300 attendees, will be held April 24-26, 2018 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

InformEx Zone focuses on innovation in specialty chemicals and the supply chain. It provides an opportunity for suppliers to connect with a broad spectrum of end use applications. The organizers describe the event as a marketplace designed to foster indispensable micro-communities where people of like interest can connect, learn, inspire, and become plugged into the centers of both the high-value chemical and pharma industries.

InformEx Zone is poised to attract attendees responsible global sourcing who are looking to ignite breakthrough ideas and drive businesses growth.

ChemDesign will be hosting meetings throughout the event and sharing updates using the event hashtag  #CPhINorthAmerica on their LinkedIN page and Twitter feed.

Click here for InformEx Zone updates

We hope to see you in Philly in April!

Holiday Celebrations Continue into the New Year at ChemDesign

It’s been a tradition at ChemDesign to plan a holiday social and celebration after our team members have had the opportunity to enjoy their own family gatherings.  On January 20th, over 160 employees and guests came together for an evening of fine food and company at Little River Country Club. Following the delicious meal including salmon, chicken, and tenderloin tips, prize drawings were held for the main gift giveaways.

This year, employees entered raffle tickets to win one of two LED televisions.  Dennis left with the 65-inch LED TV and Tina took home the 50-inch.

Several other employees left with items for recreation. Tom was excited to win a kayak and plans to use it to spend time on the water with his grandchildren. While Ali had her heart set on the Nintendo Switch, she was very happy when her friend Christine won it.  Event attendees are also predicting that Karl will be using his JBL Extreme Bluetooth speaker to listen to his favorite tunes before work.

An employee gathering would not be complete without the chance to win a trip. Ben will be taking his family and a few friends to enjoy a chartered fishing trip on Lake Michigan.  Ben and his father both work at ChemDesign and every year they pool together all of their raffle tickets to increase their odds of winning this gift. This year, their strategy paid off!

We also do not want to forget about those who like to pamper themselves!  Brad and Erica both won $150 spa packages to Elements Spa in Menominee.  Erica won this package last year and loved it – so she was thrilled to win it again.  Brad seemed a little surprised when his name was called as a winner, but deep down, we all know he is a gentle giant that likes the finer things in life.

Tony told us he loves to cook steak on his patio, so his new Weber gas grill will be put to good use. Speaking of food, Jeff has changed his life with healthy eating habits. His new air fryer, pressure cooker, and ceramic cookware will help him explore new healthy cooking options.

Finally, there were great prizes for people who relaxing at home. Jordan just moved into a new house so he was thrilled to win the $500 furniture package. Gretchen, Tina, and Chelsea all won oversized zero gravity chairs!

After all the time the social committee dedicated to planning this year’s holiday party, they were happy to see so many people attend.  The social committee is busy working on our next event. If you have any ideas for consideration, please let one of the members know!

Custom Chemical Solutions

Multi-Purpose Chemical Processing

One Campus. Multiple Reactions for Custom Chemical Solutions

At ChemDesign, we define multi-purpose chemical processing as providing support at all stages from development to production. In partnership with our customers, we provide a complete turn-key custom chemical solutions from one campus in Marinette, Wisconsin.

The design of our unit operations can be easily re-configured to accommodate a wide variety of chemical processes and quantities.

Are you looking for a custom chemical manufacturer who can easily separate and link processes? Not an issue on our campus. Our clients count on our flexible and redundant assets. When you ask a member of our team about our point of difference, they will describe it as multi-step unit operations.

In this article, we provide a description of our 3 separate buildings with a list of our redundant reaction capabilities.

Multi-Step Unit Operations

On our campus, we have three distinct multi-purpose fine and specialty chemical manufacturing areas: Buildings 52, 38 and 69 with 36,000/23,000/12,000 gallons of reactor capacity.


Our manufacturing areas consist of 8/8/7 glass-lined reactors, 4/6/1 316 stainless steel, and 3/1/1 Hastelloy (Monel) reactors. Reactors range in size from 500 to 6,000 gallons, with a temperature operating range of -7 to 150C.

Fractional Distillation columns and Solids Isolation devices are available on the same campus!

Chemical Reactions

Within each manufacturing area, we have a strong breadth of reactions available, including:

  • Bromination: arenes, olefins, alkanes, and carbonyls
  • Chlorination
  • Oxidations
  • Alkylation
  • Aminations
  • Diazotization
  • Esterification
  • Friedel-Crafts Alkylation
  • Polymerization
  • Sulfonation
  • Olefination
  • Isomerization
  • Reductions
  • Coupling Reactions
  • Alkene Isomerizations:
  • Eliminations
  • Wittig
  • Diels Alder
  • Carbonylations
  • Carboxylations
  • Decarboxylations
  • Metathesis
  • Rearrangements
  • Grignards
  • Borohydride Reductions
  • FreeRadical Polymerizations: Chain growth polymerization through free radical initiation and propagation.
  • Phosphorous Chemistry
  • Titanium Tetrachloride Chemistry: Chemdesign has utilized TiCl4 as a reagent to manufacture polymerization catalysts, and as a lewis acid catalyst to induce rearrangement/isomerization such Fries rearrangements.
  • Oximation
  • Ring Formation

Our flexible manufacturing facilities and deep experience with reactions provides our clients with the custom chemicals solutions they need, speed to market and peace of mind.

Do you have a multi-step chemical processing need? Get in touch with us by using our convenient online form.

About the author: Rae Johnson has led the sales efforts of ChemDesign since 2004. He has over 10 years of experience in the business development arena of the chemical industry, working for Hickson-DanChem, Brenntag and Ruetgers before joining ChemDesign. Rae is focused on developing chemical toll manufacturing relationships and is an active member of SOCMA and the Global Chemicals Executives.


How to Travel the World Between Your 28 Day Shift Rotation Schedule

Are you familiar with the DuPont 12 hour rotating shift schedule? Named after the company where it originated sixty years ago, the shift is structured so the employee receives seven straight days off after every 28-day rotation.

At ChemDesign, we use the DuPont 12-hour rotating shift schedule with four teams (crews) and 2 twelve-hour shifts to provide 24/7 coverage. Employees who thrive in this work environment have told us they love having a built-in mini-vacation within every 28-day cycle.

One of our employees, Jordan Parker (@jpark07v), has taken his mini-vacations to another level, a worldly level in fact. While it is not possible to go on an exotic trip every month, he has been able to travel to Egypt, Costa Rica, Ireland and Spain in the last nine.

Jordan’s interest in exploring cultures beyond our borders began when his mom gave him a subscription to National Geographic. His determination for traveling the world was set after seeing a picture of Machu Picchu. In April of this year, he went there and provided travel tips to his 68,000-plus followers of his Facebook page, Where in the World.

How does a man who describes himself as ‘a small town guy who loves adventures’ take international trips in about a week on one income? Jordan is extremely resourceful and efficient, using several key websites and applications to save time and money.

Here are a few of his favorite resources Jordan recommends for traveling on a budget:

Transportation Savings

According to Value Penguin, a typical family spends at least 44 percent of their vacation budget on transportation costs. Jordan uses Google Flights to secure the cheapest ticket. He keeps his departure time flexible and is open to unconventional connecting flights. He follows ticket prices for up to one year in advance as well, noting the fluctuations in pricing and purchasing when it’s hit a low.

Lodging Deals

Jordan is no-frills in his lodging preferences. He prefers a clean hostel to a fancy hotel. Hostels are required to offer shared rooms, but do provide private rooms for a small up charge. The price of hostel stays can be as low as $10 a night. Beyond the monetary benefits, Jordan stays at hostels to interact and mix with other like-minded travelers, who have local recommendations, making his stay more authentic.

Pre-Booking Events and Tour Guides

The app, Viator, is Jordan’s go-to resource for pre-booking tours. Scheduling activities before arrival was especially important for his trip to Egypt, where the national language is Egyptian Arabic. Jordan also found a tour guide, a student living in Cairo, using the app Tripr. His guide picked him up at the airport and joined him on a camel safari tour around the Giza Pyramids.

In his own words, Jordan is ‘loving life and feels very fortunate’. He also believes he is at an advantage to overcome jet lag when traveling because he is used to working a swing shift.

Jordan is a great at what he does, is an excellent trainer, and exemplifies the culture at ChemDesign. We are so happy that his life dreams are coming true.

As Jordan’s story illustrates, time to travel is one of the benefits of working a DuPont 12 hour rotating shift. To learn more about what it’s like to work on a crew at ChemDesign, contact us using our website form or call a member of our human resources team at (715) 735-9033.


Avenue C Fresh Food Now at ChemDesign

AvenueCChemDesign has become the first Marinette area employer to offer the micro-market snacks, drinks and fresh food from Avenue C by Canteen!

The lunchroom transformation project was a collaborative effort between several ChemDesign employees and Be’s Refreshments of Green Bay, our local Canteen franchise.

Alan VanVreede, Account Manager for Be’s Refreshments, enjoyed sharing our enthusiasm for planning the remodel. He says, “Each account has their own personality, and we cater to them based on popular food choices of the employees.”

The salads, sandwiches and fruits in the cold cooler are part of the “Enjoy!” product line. Created by a chef employed by Canteen, they feature artisan breads and change weekly.

Be’s Refreshments has made it easy to select which foods you would like to purchase from the cold coolers. Simply take your item and scan the price. You can put it back if it does not suit you, or go to the kiosk to make your purchase.

Each ChemDesign employee received an account with a preset $5 coupon and received training on how to use the kiosk. With automated payment and fingerprint recognition, VanVreede estimates it takes three seconds to complete a purchase transaction. With the quick ease of the Avenue C micro-market, ChemDesign employees now have more time to relax and enjoy their meals at work.


Career Job Shadow Chemistry

High School Student Prepares for Career in Chemistry

Chemistry Job ShadowWas 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:


ChemDesign Receives SOCMA Award

SOCMAChemDesign 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

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

 About ChemDesign

ChemDesign,, 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.

Customer Relations: Covering Specialty Chemical Manufacturing

customerserviceteamnamesIn 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

  1. Every day is different. Know the current details of the projects you are assigned to.
  2. Always be prepared to provide accurate feedback. Never give up on finding the right answer.
  3. Commit to learn and grow. Lead a project recap with your team.
  4. Never lose sight of deadlines and key milestone dates
  5. Treat a customer like family; offer support at all times

For more information about ChemDesign’s customer service team, contact us at [email protected]