J. Roger Hirl
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
J. Roger Hirl begins the interview with a discussion of his early life and education. Hirl grew up in Iowa and Minnesota. After graduating from high school, Hirl attended the University of Iowa, earning his BLS in liberal studies in 1957. While he was still in school, Hirl was drafted to serve in the Korean War, returning to the University of Iowa two years later. His early focus in college was pre-med, but he soon switched to business and liberal arts. Hirl worked for Skelly Oil Company both during school and after graduation. In 1961, he joined Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation, working in field sales. Six years later, he became a temporary assistant product manager in New York; this experience confirmed his desire to move into management at Olin. He continued to rise in sales management, moving from New York to Connecticut to Texas. He eventually became senior vice president of Olin Chemicals, a position he held until 1983, when he accepted an offer from Occidental Chemical Corporation (OxyChem). At Olin, Hirl was active in the litigation regarding DDT sediments and mercury emissions; as president of OxyChem, he became involved in the Love Canal situation. This interest in environmental concerns led him to become active in Responsible Care. Hirl also sought to improve OxyChem's safety record, and initiated special training programs. He discusses his view of chemical industry, his opinions on the future of chemical innovation, and OxyChem's involvement in the Asian market. Hirl concludes the interview with his reflections on winning the Chemical Industry Medal, a description of his family, his civic interests, and his views on attracting people to the chemical industry.
|1957||University of Iowa||BLS||Liberal Arts|
Occidental Chemical Corporation
Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Canisius College
Honorary Doctorate of Commercial Science, St. John's University
Individual Award for Philanthropy, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation
Honorary Doctorate of Commercial Science, Niagara University
Chemical Industry Award, Society of Chemical Industry (American Section)
Table of Contents
Growing up in Iowa. Moving to Minnesota. Working on the farm. Davenport High School. Attending the University of Iowa.
Studying pre-med. Serving in Korea. Interest in business. Degree in liberal studies. Family. Working for Skelly Oil Company.
Working in sales. Moving to Houston. Beginning in management. Moving up in management. Senior vice president. Decision to leave.
EPA litigation on DDT sediments. Lawsuit on mercury emissions. Involvement in Responsible Care. Love Canal.
Emphasis on safety. OSHA Star facilities. Innovative process technology.
Chemical innovation. Need to focus on environmental issues. Economic implications.
Receiving the Chemical Industry Medal. Honorary degrees. Family. Civic activities. Implications of liberal arts degree. Attracting youth to chemical industries.
About the Interviewer
James G. Traynham is a professor of chemistry at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. He holds a PhD in organic chemistry from Northwestern University. He joined Louisiana State University in 1953 and served as chemistry department chairperson from 1968 to 1973. He was chairman of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1988 and is currently councilor of the Baton Rouge section of the American Chemical Society. He was a member of the American Chemical Society’s Joint-Board Council on Chemistry and Public Affairs, as well as a member of the Society’s Committees on Science, Chemical Education, and Organic Chemistry Nomenclature. He has written over 90 publications, including a book on organic nomenclature and a book on the history of organic chemistry.