Dexter F. Baker
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Dexter Baker begins the interview by discussing his childhood and early education in the suburbs of Philadelphia. After graduating from Upper Darby High in 1945, Baker was drafted into the US Navy and admitted to the Naval Academy Preparatory program. Before he completed the program, however, World War II ended, and Baker was discharged. He then enrolled at Lehigh University, where he studied mechanical engineering and developed an interest in turbines. After graduating in 1950, Baker took a job with Allis-Chalmers but was soon drafted into the US Army and served in the Korean War. While in the Army, Baker was appointed to the engineering research and development laboratories, where he worked on the development of high-speed, small-size gas turbine engines. After he had completed his two years in the Army, Baker accepted a position with Air Products and Chemicals in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. He worked in sales while attending night school at Lehigh to earn his MBA degree. He was soon sent to England to begin a division of Air Products in Europe. A decade later, Baker returned to the United States and completed his climb up the corporate ladder, becoming president of Air Products in 1978 and Chairman of the Board in 1986.
|1950||Lehigh University||BS||Mechanical Engineering|
Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.
Chemical Industry Award, Society of Chemical Industry
Table of Contents
Born in Massachusetts. Raised in suburban Philadelphia. Experience in naval academy. First employment at Allis-Chalmers. Experience in US Army. Marriage to Dorothy Hess.
Attending Lehigh University. Working at Allis-Chalmers. Interest in Air Products in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. Job as sales engineer with Air Products. Meets with Ed Donley.
Personal goals at Air Products. Head of sales of oxygen plants for the chemical Industry. Competition with Union Carbide.
MBA degree from Lehigh. Thesis sent to Leonard Pool.
Two year assignment in UK. Starting of Air Products Europe. Business experiences overseas.
Lessons of international expansion. Advantages of melding different experiences to create stronger companies.
Executive vice presidency. Expansion into Canada. Presidency.
Importance of innovation at Air Products. Challenge of running innovative, multinational chemical company. Management techniques. Importance of risk taking. Environmental responsibility.
Thoughts on the chemical industry.
About the Interviewer
James J. Bohning was professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he had been 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 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 CHF’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. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society. Bohning passed away in September 2011.