TAURANGA, NEW ZEALAND (Aug. 16, 9 a.m. EDT) — Roger K. Young is not your average plastics consultant. For starters, the former Dow Plastics chemist lives in New Zealand, on a 44-foot-long boat named Ballerina. He runs his business off the boat via high-frequency radio and wireless technology. Today that business largely consists of directing the Asian portion of plastics and rubber consulting for Akron, Ohio-based Robert Eller Associates Inc.
Young was a 40-year-old associate development scientist when he left his 18-year career at Midland, Mich.-based Dow in August 1991, with visions of sailing the world. The Long Island native bought his boat in 1989, left Michigan and spent his last two years at Dow working from his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., before quitting to start his own, one-man, product-development consulting firm called Young Ideas Inc.
“In November 1993,” he recounted recently by e-mail, “I set sail initially cruising in the Caribbean spending most of the time in the Southern Caribbean until February 1998, when I transited the [Panama] canal. Two years were spent slowly cruising across the Pacific, hitting the Galapagos, French Polynesia, the Line Islands, the Cook Islands and Tonga before heading to New Zealand.”
Since setting off by sea, he has worked periodically for Eller doing various client projects, ranging from mergers and acquisitions to new product/application development and market analysis studies. When duty calls, Young docks the Ballerina and flies off to attend major plastics industry events. Since leaving Dow, Young notes he's been to Germany's K show and Chicago's NPE show four times each, Japan's IPF show twice and, most recently, Chinaplas 2004 in Shanghai.
Young used to be very active in the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s Structural Plastics Division, serving on its board for several years and even won the division's lifetime industry contribution award. He started at Dow as a research engineer in 1973, served as technical manager for automotive engineering thermoplastic resins, chaired the team that commercialized the firm's Pulse polycarbonate/ABS resins. He also helped develop Dow's Isoplast (glass-filled polyurethane), Calibre (polycarbonate), and Questra (syndiotactic polystyrene) materials, among others.
But for the past 11 years, Young has been the plastics industry's floating minstrel, occasionally popping up where you least expect him, but always well tanned.
“Often I am cruising and working and some of the views from 'my office' would leave you breathless,” he boasts, “but I also get stuck in some less exotic urban ports when Bob [Eller] calls!”
Don't look for any sympathy here. For those long-lost industry friends who wish to re-establish contact with Young, you can e-mail him at [email protected]