Title and Description Page
Family Background and Early Education 1
Father, a chemist, influences choice of career. Education of parents and grandparents influences choice of Louisiana State University for undergraduate education. Louisiana during the Great Depression.
Undergraduate Education 3
Few career options for graduates in chemical engineering. Sugar industry provides first exposure to chemical processes. Chemical engineering curriculum and faculty.
Early Employment 6
Employed by Louisiana Power and Light Company after graduation. Hired by Freeport Sulfur to work in operations and travels to Cuba. Works for Merck and Co. building sulfa drug and nicotinic acid plants. First patents.
Military Service in World War II 10
Called as a reserve captain after participating in the Chemical Warfare Service in the Reserve Officer Training Corps during college. Becomes commanding officer of an Army heavy mortar company. Transferred to the Pacific and sees active duty. After returning to New York, travels to Germany on a Combined Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee mission to study acetylene from methane and sulfur processes. Joins a quatrepartite team to implement the provisions of the Potsdam agreement.
Engineering and Management Experiences 20
Perlite project is first management and business ownership experience. Returns to Freeport Sulfur as a consultant. Works for FMC. Successfully bids on a rubber plant newly privatized by the Synthetic Rubber Plant Commission and inaugurates Petro-Tex just as a boom in rubber production starts. Marries at age forty-three. Visits India twice as a butadiene expert for Goodyear.
Venture Capital 27
Works for six years as head of five high-technology businesses. Salvages the failing Petro-Tex by lowering production in a buyer's market. Bids for Alaskan crude oil business for Alaska Interstate. Buys chemical business from DuPont and goes through open heart surgery while finalizing the deal.
Leveraged Buyouts 33
Purchase of Vista is the first leveraged buyout in the chemical industry. Standards for LBO operations. Buys ethylene plant in Corpus Christi and joins it with six other ethylene-related plants into Cain Chemical just as the ethylene business enters a boom. Sells Cain Chemical in less than a year for $1.2 billion.
Business Philosophy and Practices 35
Value of employee ownership. Investment in commodity producing plants. Cutting upper level management and keeping a small sales force. Use of the Deming system to cut overhead and increase communication within management.
Other Ventures 37
Buys polyester fiber business from Celanese. Founds the Sterling Group. Family and hobbies. Changes in the business climate from the 1980s to the 1990s.