Colleagues and acquaintances are remembering plastics industry recruiter John H. Dugan, who died at age 67 on Dec. 19 in Monterey, Calif.
“The plastics industry has lost one of the good guys” and an individual with “a sardonic humor,” said Conrad Zumhagen with the management consulting firm Zumhagen Co. LLC in Ann Arbor, Mich.
He recalled an encounter on an escalator at an NPE show in Chicago in the 1980s when he observed Dugan as an early adopter of first-generation handheld mobile telephone technology. “John was ahead of his time in the search business,” Zumhagen said. “He was one of the first to use computer-aided software for recruiters.”
College acquaintance Robert Allen of Salem, S.C., noted: “John went the extra mile to get to know you and your motivations in order to marry you to the right opportunity. He was an enabler, rose to the top of his profession and was good at what he did.” Allen is the retired vice president of sales and marketing for colorant and additive concentrates supplier Lanier Color Co. of Gainesville, Ga.
David Reese said: “John was the consummate professional who maintained a great network within the plastics industry over the years. He will certainly be missed.” Reese is president of employment firm ReeseSource & Associates Ltd. in Charlotte, N.C., and a partner in The Source Alliance.
Stephen Bowen said: “I was in the same class as John at GE Plastics in 1972 and have continued to work with him as a recruiter for our business. I have enjoyed his professionalism and support.” Bowen is president and chief executive officer of polymer matrix composites supplier PlastiComp Inc. of Winona, Minn.
Dugan grew up humbly in Bangor, Maine, and graduated in 1970 from the University of Maine in nearby Orono.
Dugan was a quick learner in the business world and initially worked his way through positions at Union Carbide Corp. and GE Plastics' Lexan division. Dugan became acquainted with Zumhagen and Reese through GE Plastics.
In 1975 in Chicago, Dugan joined an executive recruitment firm and, a few years later, established his first search business, which he operated with others focusing on the plastics industry. He relocated to California initially in 1993 but kept a strong Chicago presence and connection through the years. He built the business through developing mentor and client relationships with a wide range of individuals in all aspects of the plastics business.
Dugan's website characterized him as “an expert in neurolinguistics and the competency-based interviewing structure, which aggregates who an individual is — their unique experience and background — not simply a rehashing of their resume and determining how they fit into a matrix.”
In an atypical practice, Dugan charged clients a predetermined flat fee rather than following the usual retained executive search model calling for an upfront commitment and payment in perhaps three installments.
His widow, Nancy, plans to continue the operations of J.H. Dugan Co. providing executive search and recruitment services from an office in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif.