"One way, in my humble opinion (which I prized, then and now), dues structure needed to be tied to local salaries. Furthermore, older members (and especially fellows) should pay dues based on years in the industry. Again, in my humble opinion, the organization reached out to international technologists way too late. Decades ago, outreach bureaus in European, Asian, Indian and African countries would have provided a more rounded understanding of our industry. The society leaders should have heeded the subsuming of Britain's Plastics and Rubber Institute."
He also has been a "thorn" in the side of SPE directors.
"I should add that I have pissed off and have been publicly reprimanded by two executive directors, ousted by one for insisting that its leaders needed to recognize that SPE had the word 'engineers' in its title, and told by another that, 'We don't need people like you in our organization!' SPE does not have 'management' in its title and no longer 'sales,'" Throne said, a reference to the original name, the Society of Plastics Sales Engineers.
"Antec was, (in the past tense) the place where differing technical opinions — not alternate facts — could always find a forum for debate. Debates, these days, seem to grate on individual's sensitivities and corporate images," Throne said.
He likes Harry Truman's quote, "If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen," but said that adage, "apparently doesn't apply to certain corporations or their front people!"
Throne, who holds a doctoral degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware, started his plastics career at DuPont Co. in 1963. A career highlight was working at Amoco Chemicals, as point man to interface with DuPont on Amoco's newly acquired license from DuPont to manufacture PET bottles. The result: Amoco built the first commercial plant to produce PET bottles for carbonated soft drinks, in Seymour, Ind.
As a spinoff project, Throne patented the concept of a dual-ovenable PET TV dinner tray, which he said was the first crystallizable PET tray, in 1976.
He has taught at Ohio University, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Akron. Today, he runs Sherwood Technologies in Dunedin, Fla.
The public used to consider plastics as a "miracle material," Throne said. And Americans recycled everything in World War II. Not now.
"Today, very few people give a damn about recycling, just like they don't give a damn about 'Buying America,'" he said. "All the legislation in the world will not change public impression about plastic as the bane of our culture."
As an elder statesman, Throne also has a historical view of today's skilled worker shortage.
"When I was an undergraduate, the college had an influx of 'foreigners' — Korean War vets and Hungarian dissidents. They brought fresh approaches to technical understanding and learning. They spurred us American students to work harder and longer," he said. "So where is the source of today's 'fresh breaths'? Being extremely vetted and deported. But before we open our doors (and arms) to 'aliens,' let's make certain that we can adequately train them in the ways and byways of the plastics industries."
Improved training is important.
"Our plastics manufacturing capabilities have devolved in the past decades. Because of this, academies no longer train hands-on skills needed for these industries. Instead they teach biology and pharmacology to chemical engineers, aerospace to mechanicals and IT to electricals, and finite element analyses to civils. Book learning provides a basis but is practically useless without hands-on skills."
And what does Throne, who will turn 80 on July 10 this year, think about social media?
"[In my humble opinion,] social media is clogged with flash mobs and "alternative fact" checkers. I await the day when a very astute entrepreneur creates a method for intelligent interchange of ideas, innovations, product concepts and designs, and technologies capable of creating real products that is free of the riff-raff and pics of 'what I had for lunch,'" he said.