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U.S.-based Orion Engineered Carbons (NYSE: OEC), a specialty chemicals company, reports that it has reached a major sustainability milestone, becoming the first to achieve International Sustainability and Carbon Certifications (ISCC Plus) for multiple carbon black grades made from different feedstocks at plants in two regions of the world.

A press release said that the ISCC PLUS certification involved rigorous audits of Orion’s plants and processes that confirmed the company’s compliance with high sustainability requirements. It also verified the transparency and traceability of sustainable raw materials in the company’s value chain at three plants producing the concerned grades of carbon black.

“No other company is making multiple grades of sustainable carbon black with different feedstocks at multiple plants across the world,” said Corning Painter, Orion’s CEO. A decade ago, Orion was the first major producer to develop and commercialize carbon black made from renewable feedstocks, such as industrial-grade vegetable oils or other oils derived from waste and residues of biological origin from agriculture or forestry.

Orion notes that the company is also the only carbon black producer in the BlackCycle initiative, an EU-funded project focused on developing the production of circular carbon black.

Autac, a manufacturer of coiled cords founded by Robert N. Burkle in 1947, celebrated the company’s 75th anniversary with an event at Bill Miller’s Castle in Branford, Connecticut.

The event was hosted by company President Marie Burkle. “It is with a great sense of pride that we have come this far,” she told the audience of some 85 people, which included employees and their families/guests, suppliers, industry colleagues and state Senator Christine Cohen. “No business can make 75 years without relationships,” she said. For a business, that means employees, vendors and local community leaders. “All have helped us in different ways,” and that support enabled the company to survive and thrive.”

Burkle called up a number of employees to single them out for their contributions. Speaking later, she said, “It is a source of great pride for me, the last Burkle, to keep my father’s legacy going and certainly a reason to celebrate. The day was also an opportunity to give our staff the recognition they so deeply deserve.”

At the same time, Burkle shared different thoughts in her speech. She singled out some industry vendors, saying they could also be a company’s biggest liability. She cited the “80-20” rule, referring to the axiom that 80 percent of business often comes from 20 percent of customers.

In hard times, such as the last few Covid years, that has resulted in a much harder business atmosphere, Burkle said. “Our minimums increase, our prices go up, the lead times go out and payment terms become so unreasonable that it bankrupts many small businesses. How can one eat their young and hope to survive for more generations? I’ve never understood that.”

That assessment does not apply to all vendors, and Burkle thanked Mexichem for being a reliable business partner, presenting the company a plaque for their consistently good work.

Burkle said it was important for her to hold the event at Bill Miller’s Castle as the founder, the late Bill Miller, and her late father, were together in Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce back in the 60’s and 70’s. “Also, Bill Miller was a huge help and supporter of me when I served as president of the North Branford Chamber. He and that fabulous building have a special place in my heart!”

WAI President James York and Executive Director Steve Fetteroll recently attended a meeting of ACIMAF, where the Italian wire machinery manufacturers association celebrated its 35th anniversary, heard a presentation by York (see p. 62) and discussed plans for a return to Italy for a technical conference in 2023.

The meeting included a presentation by Gabriele Campo, commercial and business development manager at BCUBE. She specializes in advanced logistics services, and her report was on “International logistics and shipments - State of the art - Possible scenarios and new solutions.” She focused on the transition from product centricity to customer centricity. She talked about how the evolution requires a supplier of logistics services to serve as a partner.

Also speaking was Alessia Bianchi of ITA/ICE, who shifted the focus to the Agency’s initiatives to support promotion abroad, and the internationalization of Italian companies. In her speech, she disclosed that Italian SMEs are leaders in international markets, and that those who export (over 123,000 throughout Italy) are larger in size and perform better in terms of turnover per employee and productivity, since competing internationally requires a company to be well structured and efficient.

Promos Italia, a national agency that supports Italian companies, was represented by Silvia Lambertini, who presented the services that are offered, such as training, business matching, digital export solutions and projects to attract foreign investment and territorial development. Promis Italia had been a partner of ACIMAF previously when it held Wire & Cable in Verona in 2019. That event attracted 250 delegates from 27 countries. He gave a taste of what the 2023 staging of the conference would be like.

ACIMAF President Ferruccio Bellina, Fetteroll and York spoke about plans for the return to Italy, this time in Milano. Observed Fetteroll, “There is a collaboration by WAI with ACIMAF that has lasted for 20 years, and we are pleased to contribute to this event because it is so well in line with the technical focus of our association.”
The date of Oct. 16, 2023, has been set for the technical conference, and more details will follow in future issues

The WAI’s Clockwinding tradition traces back to 1948, when John Rigby first wound the stately Grandfather’s Clock that the British wire drawing industry presented to the Association for help during World War II.

Over the years, many individuals have served as the Clockwinder, but the 2022 Clockwinder, Martin Thacker, has set himself apart from all others: he is the first-ever Clockwinder to serve three years in a row, and he is the first one to have ever performed the duties virtually. On Nov. 3, he came to WAI’s office in Madison, Connecticut, having performed the duties of the ceremony two times before ... yet never having actually touched the clock, as he was home in the U.K., and the clock was wound by a WAI representative in his stead.

Welcomed and introduced by WAI President Jim York, Thacker—who twice was a polished and congenial speaker remotely—was even better in person. “This is my third clockwinding ceremony. In 2020, I was privileged to be asked to wind the clock. However, Covid got in the way and travel became impossible. I was able to complete the ceremony by virtual means. I am the first in the history of our tradition to wind such a prestigious clock through MS Teams.”

Thacker spoke about the Clockwinding tradition, noting that it was important that it was able to continue in some form during an onerous Covid period. “Challenges remain, but 2022 has largely seen a thriving wire and cable industry. Major telecoms continue to expand their networks, and more organizations are adopting industry 4.0 technologies, and demand is strong for fiber optic cables and hybrid cables. More wire and cable trade shows have taken place this year, and they remain “a great place to network, see the latest technology in action and find new partners,” he said.

Thacker observed later that when he was presented a Clockwinder’s tie at an event in the U.K. honoring past Clockwinders by WAI Executive Director Steve Fetteroll—who was there with WAI President Jim York after going to wire Düsseldorf 2022 in Germany—it had been an awkward moment. “I felt a fraud since I had fast become king of the virtual clockwinding ceremony. Now, having been here in Madison, I can now wear my tie with pride.”

Of note, only one past Clockwinder has wound the clock more than Thacker, and that is the late Terrence Cahill, Somerset Wire, who performed the tradition in 1979, 1989, 1991 and 1997.

Poland’s WAI Chapter held a seminar on Oct. 19 that included a technical presentation and an update on the chapter, but the main focus was a series of laudations of the late Dr. Bogdan Golis, a beloved chapter member who died June 29 at age 85.

The program traced the career of Golis, who was Częstochowa University of Technology (CUT)’s dean of faculty for metallurgy, and head of the Department of Metal Forming in this faculty, from 1988-96. He became a WAI member in 1995 and was vice president of the Poland Chapter from 1999 to 2010. In 2000 he won WAI’s Mordica Memorial Award. He was named a full CUT professor in 2001, and won several key awards. He was also the driving force behind the 2006 creation of the Schneider Memorial Award, the highest such award for Poland, based on WAI’s Mordica Award.

The honorary guests of the seminar were Professor Bogdan’s wife, Leokadia Golis, and daughters Małgorzata Zaczkowska and Beata Pająk, granddaughter Agnieszka Pająk and grandson Wojciech Pająk.

Many people came to honor Golis, one being Tadeusz Knych, also a Mordica Memorial Award winner, who said that the professor was always a deep-thinking man who firmly believed that there was a need to further knowledge. “He was always a deeply thinking man with a great knowledge of drawing, he evoked respect. He was often uncompromising, in a positive sense, of course. ... He always showed concern for science and the fear that (there was an) increasing lack of interest in science in our area of professional interest, and therefore he tried to put on paper all the knowledge he had in the theory and technology of the drawing process. He has always required exceptional respect for professors, he taught it and demanded it from young students of science. He left a huge baggage of knowledge and memories. ... It’s good that he lived to see the 20th anniversary of WAI in Poland. He was a man of character and great charisma, and his contributions should never be forgotten.”

The leaders of the WAI Poland Chapter were also announced. Jan Pilarczyk, retired CUT Professor, will continue to serve as president. There are three vice presidents: Maciej Górak, owner of the Gama Metal Company; Prof. Tadeusz Knych, dean of the Faculty of Non-Ferrous Metals at AGH; and Piotr Milewski, commodity manager for Drumet Wire Co World Group, who is also the 2022 president of the European Wire Drawing Committee. Prof. Jarosław Jasiński, professor at NCBJ, will be treasurer; Agnieszka Gwiazdowicz will be board secretary; and Prof. AGH Beata Smyrak, a professor at AGH, will also be a member of the board.

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