Neville Chemical’s George Willock Receives TAM Service Award
By David Savastano, Editor
Each year since 1995, the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) selects a person to receive its Technical Associate Member (TAM) Service Award.
The TAM Service Award recognizes an outstanding individual who, as a supplier to the ink industry, has played a major role in the progress of printing ink technology.
George Willock, vice president of sales for Neville Chemical, is one such person. Since joining Neville Chemical in the lab in 1958, Mr. Willock has become one of the leading authorities on resins in the industry.
In addition to his work for Neville, Mr. Willock has also been a major leader in the industry, offering his time and efforts on behalf of the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) in a large variety of areas. As a result, it came as no surprise when Mr. Willock received the TAM Service Award from NAPIM during the National Printing Ink Research Institute’s (NPIRI) Annual Technical Conference at Marco Island, FL on Oct. 3, 2002.
“For me, it is very gratifying to receive the TAM award, and to receive the recognition from the industry and from my friends,” Mr. Willock said. “I’m proud to be part of the TAM group.”
In speaking with former TAM Service Award recipients, it is clear that they are tremendously proud to be associated with Mr. Willock as well.
“I’ve known George since I began working in the ink industry,” said W. Richard Hoster, president of Magie Bros. and 2000 TAM Service Award honoree. “He’s a dedicated family man and an excellent businessman who has built a great organization. I can’t say enough about him as a person. He’s a man of great character. He’s a confidant, and he’s almost like another brother to me.”
“George is without a doubt one of the finest men in the industry,” saidW. Rucker Wickline, president of CDR Pigments & Dispersions and 1999 TAM Service Award honoree. “In fact, he is one of the two most knowledgeable resin guys in the industry. I can’t say enough about his honesty and integrity. He’s a very dear friend.”
Joining Neville Chemical
For Mr. Willock, joining Neville Chemical back in 1958 was the result of a fortunate ride.
“When I was a youngster going to the University of Pittsburgh, I was a rebellious young kid who was trying to find out what it was all about,” Mr. Willock said. “My father suggested I get a job, and I interviewed with US Steel. I was waiting for a bus on my way to the interview, and Lee Dauler, the president of Neville Chemical, happened to be driving by. He stopped and gave me a ride, and when I didn’t get a job with US Steel, Neville hired me.”
Once at Neville Chemical, Mr. Willock started out on the technical side, but he realized sales was his true calling.
“I worked in the lab while I finished going to school at night,” Mr. Willock said. “After I graduated, I was offered the opportunity to join the sales group. I hit the road running and never looked back.”
Mr. Willock was confident that he would be trained for his new role, but he quickly found himself learning on the job, thanks to some of his key customers.
“I was promised a three-year training program that lasted all of two weeks,” Mr. Willock said. “I sort of got thrown to the wolves at Neville and my customers mentored me. Some of the guys who mentored me were Ed Dunning and Frank Formacka of Frederick Levey and Abe Terkowitz of Commercial Ink, and later Magruder Color. All were technical guys who mentored me. They took a young sales guy and taught me the business.”
When Mr. Willock joined Neville Chemical, the company was not as involved in the ink industry. Over time, the company concentrated its efforts on ink, and success followed.
“When I started on the sales side of the business in 1962, all we were selling to ink was an anti-skinning agent,” Mr. Willock said. “ Our sales to the ink segment came in at less than 1 percent. However, we began to develop new technologies. We had a large technical staff and we were able to address our customers’ needs. We kept asking questions, finding needs in the industry and addressing them. When the heatset business began to boom, we moved into it and expanded our news ink side and as our customers grew, we grew with them. Now our sales to the ink industry are 45 percent to 48 percent of our total business.”
It’s unusual that a person stays with the same company for more than four decades, but Mr. Willock said he has always been happy there.
“With Neville, I had a lot of sales and product assignments, and ran the commercial side worldwide,” he said. “I’ve stayed with Neville because I’ve had many opportunities to take on interesting roles. I’ve never been bored. Still, being with the same company, my kids think I should be stuffed and be in the Smithsonian.”
Mr. Willock has an array of interests outside of Neville, and in particular, he puts tremendous emphasis on his family. Outside of Neville, He and his wife, Kitsy, have been married 43 years. They have three daughters, Kathy, Susan and Kimberly; a son, George IV; and 11 grandchildren.
“I went to our children’s ballgames and recitals when I could, and we did go hunting and fishing,” Mr. Willock said. “Thankfully, Kitsy was running our house while I was on the road so much of the time.”
Caring for the Community
Typically, a large chemical company has problems with the local community, but Neville Chemical is very much an exception. One of the areas that Mr. Willock and Neville Chemical pride themselves in is its relationship with their neighbors on Neville Island.
“Community outreach is something that we take very seriously,” Mr. Willock said. “We’re part of the American Chemical Society, and we are heavily involved in Responsible Care. We have open houses and invite our neighbors in. It’s given us a much warmer relationship and many of our neighbors’ sons and daughters work for us.
“Basically, we’re a small chemical company that follows the initiatives of the chemical and petroleum companies,” Mr. Willock continued. “We’ve worked very hard on health and safety. Over the years, we’ve chosen to discontinue certain product lines. We’ve done the right thing. We’ve earned ISO certification and Total Quality Management. There’s a potential benefit to those programs that outweighs all of the sweat you put into earning these designations.”
Commitment to NAPIM
Mr. Willock is a major supporter of NAPIM and NPIRI, and his experience with NAPIM began at the 1982 NAPIM Convention in Scottsdale, AZ.
“In 1982, I went to my first NAPIM convention in Scottsdale,” he said. “I had played some tennis, and I was fortunate by some stroke of chance to win the tennis tournament, which gave me a whole new circle of friends. There would be 40 or more players, and it built a great camaraderie.”
In time, Mr. Willock was asked to help out with NAPIM, and he happily obliged. “NAPIM comes to you and allows you to run things,” he said.
Jim Coleman, NAPIM’s executive director, said Mr. Willock’s commitment to NAPIM has been exemplary.
“George was one of our first members of our TAM Board of Directors, and he has been very supportive of our NPIRI Technical Conferences and activities,” Mr. Coleman said.
All in all, Mr. Willock considers himself very fortunate to have taken that ride with Mr. Dauler and joining Neville Chemical.
“I’ve always found the ink industry to be competitive,” Mr. Willock said. “It’s a wonderful group of people and if you stay with it, you can develop a lot of strong friendships.”
Considering all that Mr. Willock has accomplished, Neville Chemical and the ink industry were also very fortunate Mr. Willock took that ride back in 1958 as well.