New Search

Worley H. Clark, Jr.

  • Born: June 18, 1932, Big Stone Gap, Virginia
  • View the Front Matter and Index of this interview

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0116
Interview Date: November 8, 1994
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Interviewer: James J. Bohning
No. of pages: 44
Minutes: 127
Sponsor: Society of Chemical Industry
Society of Chemical Industry

  Abstract of Interview

W. H. Clark begins this interview by reviewing his growing-up years in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, and his early interest in journalism. He continues with his subsequent decision to major in industrial engineering at North Carolina State University, where he became interested in technical selling. He then discusses his first job at SOHIO as a sales engineer and his move to Nalco Chemical Company, where he spent the rest of his career. He describes his early experiences at Nalco, as well as the role Nalco's technical salespeople play in meeting customer needs and inventing new products. As the just-retired CEO, he discusses chemical industry changes and their impact on the chemical industry: most notably the environmental movement, Bhopal, and today's government regulations. He further presents his views on promoting successful creativity, innovation, and teamwork; management-employee relations; communicating company goals to outside audiences; and sales and management opportunities. He then discusses his current project, helping set up technical selling training programs in U.S. universities. He closes with his views on the future of chemical innovation in this country.


1956 B.S., Industrial Engineering, North Carolina State University
1958 Cleveland-Marshall Law School, Northwestern University
1977 Stanford University Executive Program

  Professional Experience

Standard Oil Company of Ohio (SOHIO)

1956 - 1960 Sales Engineer

Nalco Chemical Company

1960 - 1964 District Representative, Industrial Division

Nalco Chemical Company

1964 - 1967 Area Manager, Houston

Nalco Chemical Company

1967 - 1968 District Manager, Wisconsin District

Nalco Chemical Company

1968 - 1971 District Manager, Michigan District

Nalco Chemical Company

1971 - 1974 Sales Manager, Water Treatment Chemicals Group

Nalco Chemical Company

1974 - 1978 General Manager, Water Treatment Chemicals Group

Nalco Chemical Company

1978 - 1982 Group Vice President and President, Industrial Division

Nalco Chemical Company

1980 - 1994 Member, Board of Directors

Nalco Chemical Company

1982 - 1982 Executive Vice President, Domestic Operations

Nalco Chemical Company

1982 - 1990 President

Nalco Chemical Company

1982 - 1994 Chief Executive Officer

Nalco Chemical Company

1984 - 1994 Chairman, Board of Directors


1993 Chemical Industry Medal, Society of Chemical Industry
1993 Distinguished Engineering Graduate, North Carolina State University
1990 Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration, North Central College

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Family Background and Education 1

Growing up in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. Early interest in journalism. Decision to major in industrial engineering at North Carolina State University; school career.

Early Career 4

Early career in technical selling at SOHIO. Decision to move to Nalco at Houston, Texas. Evening courses at the Marshall Law School.

Early Development at Nalco 7

Various aspects of technical selling. Nalco organizational hierarchy. Nalco's philosophy of sales representation and on-site problem solving. On-the-job travel. Career goals.

Management Career at Nalco; Management Perspectives 11

New product development based on meeting customer needs. Views of management and sales opportunities. History of Nalco. Views on maximizing employee creativity and communication. Views on chemical industry changes. Nalco's handling of new government environmental regulations and relations. Views on optimal upper-level managerial decision-making and delegation. The effects of Bhopal on the chemical industry. Views and experiences concerning OCITA, NAFTA, and GATT.

Views of Industry 27

Technical selling: the need for college-level training and promotion as a career choice. The future of U.S. chemical innovation. Nalco's future. The need for a strong ethical stance in companies.

Notes 31

Index 32

  About the Interviewer

James J. Bohning

James J. Bohning is professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he was a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and has presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was the foundation’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. He is currently a visiting research scientist and CESAR Fellow at Lehigh University. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society.

Hear It Firsthand

The Center for Oral History captures and preserves the stories of notable figures in chemistry and related fields, with over 425 oral histories that deal with various aspects of science, of scientists, and of scientific practices. For more information please visit CHF’s Oral History Program or e-mail oralhistory@

Annual Report

Annual Report
Take a look back at a year of preservation, research, and outreach in CHF’s annual report to supporters.

Support CHF

Help us preserve and share the history of chemistry and related sciences. Make a tax-deductible tax-deductible gift online.