Worley H. Clark, Jr.

Born: June 18, 1932 | Big Stone Gap, VA, US

W. H. Clark grew up in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, with an early interest in journalism. He decided to major in industrial engineering at North Carolina State University, where he became interested in technical selling. His first job was at Standard Oil of Ohio as a sales engineer, later moving to Nalco Chemical Company, where he spent the rest of his career. 

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0116
No. of pages: 43
Minutes: 111

Interview Sessions

James J. Bohning
8 November 1994
Chicago, Illinois

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 US universities. He closes with his views on the future of chemical innovation in this country. 


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1956 North Carolina State University at Raleigh BS Industrial Engineering
1958 Northwestern University Cleveland-Marshall Law School
1977 Stanford University Executive Program

Professional Experience

Standard Oil Company of Ohio

1956 to 1960
Sales Engineer

Nalco Chemical Company

1960 to 1964
District Representative, Industrial Division, Houston
1964 to 1967
Area Manager, Houston
1967 to 1968
District Manager, Wisconsin District
1968 to 1971
District Manager, Michigan District
1971 to 1974
Sales Manager, Water Treatment Chemicals Group
1974 to 1978
General Manager, Water Treatment Chemicals Group
1978 to 1982
Group Vice President; President, Industrial Division
1980 to 1994
Member, Board of Directors
Executive Vice President, Domestic Operations
1982 to 1990
1982 to 1994
Chief Executive Officer
1984 to 1994
Chairman, Board of Directors


Year(s) Award

Chemical Industry Medal, Society of Chemical Industry


Distinguished Engineering Graduate, North Carolina State University


Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration, North Central College

Table of Contents

Family Background and Education

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

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

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

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

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


About the Interviewer

James J. Bohning

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.