PCI Hall of Fame Award at the 2006 PCI Annual Meeting, May 23rd, 2006, at the La Quinta Resort, in La Quinta, CA
Truly it is a great privilege and an honor to be here to celebrate THE 25th ANIVERSARY of the Powder Coating Institute it certainly speaks very highly of the PCI staff. It is also a great honor and a privilege to be joining a group of people who have contributed so much to this industry and to our country.
58 years ago a scared skinny kid was clinging to the rail of a Mediterranean cargo dhow, a sailboat about as far away from a luxury yacht as you can get. He watched his homeland fade forever into the distance, a Palestinian refugee with no house to live in and no future in sight.
Who could ever have imagined that that same boy would be standing here before you today to be inducted into the Hall of fame of the Powder Coating Institute?
But then again, we should not be surprised because I do represent what America truly stands for … A land of opportunity.
I arrived in this country in 1956 with 1,000 dollars in my pocket, an ancient suitcase, acceptance to the University and abundant hope. And maybe just a bit of ignorance
Soon after I settled on campus, I was adopted by the Irish Fraternity on campus, known as the – “rebels’ – for good reason. I FIT RIGHT IN… In addition to the “Chug –a-lugging” and whatever, My Fraternity brothers took me in and taught me about the vast opportunities within reach… if one has a dream and the guts to pursue it.
I knew then that this was my new home – America that is not the Irish fraternity.
It wasn’t long before I met a lovely young lady and who inadvertently taught me the value of patience and persistence. I asked her for a date during my freshman year. Two years later, she finally agreed to go to the movies with me. Well, we had to take the bus… There wasn’t much left of the $1000…
I take pride in introducing my lovely wife Lynn who has been by my side for over 46 years. …… I think she is now beginning to think that she may have made the right decision…. you see what I mean about patience, or maybe just her cautious Yankee Upbringing. Her encouragement and support gave me the freedom to pursue what initially seemed to be an impossible dream. Her support proved to be of immeasurable help.
Patience, persistence and perseverance paid off again in the powder coating business as well.
In 1969, no one in this country knew much about powder coating. It was a very lonely profession. But thanks to the perseverance of those pioneers who believed in it and to the courage of the few pioneers willing to take a chance and buy what we were selling, the powder revolution began to roll. Those pioneers, our customers, are the silent heroes of our industry and of our ultimate success.
For me it all started with the Navy Yard in Philadelphia.
Allow me, please, to mention names that you have probably never heard of, Marty Devine and Joe Cerini of the Navy, George Kitchen of Bell Labs and David Noltie an Entrepreneur. These gentlemen introduced me to the potential of powder coating. Their introductions lead me to contact Gordon Cole. Gordon convinced me that powder was the coating of the future and that the future could be ours. Jointly we forged the opportunities and the dreams into reality.
The opportunities to stand back from the daily race and just reflect on what has been accomplished are few and far between. It is simply amazing how we have transformed the coating industry. Powder coating is now the standard by which all other coatings are judged and it is only the beginning. Even more rare are the opportunities to truly thank the people who have played a vital roll in this accomplishment.
I am reminded of an old Chinese proverb, “Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” Together we have lit many candles I am highly honored to have my name added to the list of outstanding members of our field. I am particularly grateful to the employees of Interrad and their families, Jim Miller, July Sullivan, Nick Liberto and many others, whose hard work and sacrifice paid off in the end. I am particularly grateful to those who nominated me and to the PCI Board of Directors who selected me.
It is wonderful to see so many old friends and associates. If I were to properly thank each of you from this podium, we’d be here all night so I’ll spare you the agony. But I would like to extend special thanks to Chris Merit for the gracious way in which he informed me and also for seeing to it that my very close friends Pat and Joe Mallee are here to share this moment with Lynn and myself.
While to most, this award is about paint and coatings – but to me, there is much more below the surface. At the heart of it is that this award recognizes what America stands for – opportunity for all, provided they persevere.
We must strive to keep our country this way, forever. It is impossible for me to tell you how much this tribute means to me—how deeply I am touched — so I shall just close by saying thank you, to you all.