The PIA inducted 11 new members into its Ben Franklin Honor Society on Nov. 15, 2013. Among the honorees was Dr. Don P. Duncan, director of research at Wikoff Color Corporation. Dr. Duncan is very well known in the printing and ink industries, currently serving as president of both the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts (TAGA) and RadTech. Outside of his work with the PIA, RadTech and TAGA, Dr. Duncan is an active member of FTS, TAPPI, ASTM and the American Chemical Society, and served on the board of the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership. A native of Texas, Dr. Duncan received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from North Texas State University and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); he holds two U.S. patents
Dr. Duncan said that the honor came as a big surprise.
“This was a great surprise and I certainly don’t feel worthy,” he said. “I do feel like I suddenly am walking among giants. While I don’t think I can add much that is not already well known, I take my unexpected induction to this respected group as a challenge to grow and to measure up to the standards set by others.”
There are advantages and disadvantages for companies in having key people participate in numerous groups. Dr. Duncan said that Wikoff Color looks to achieve a balance.
“This is a topic we have discussed internally at length,” Dr. Duncan said. “Wikoff’s current position is that active participation in industry associations by a limited number of key people can bring value. But, as with most other things, it’s easier to mess it up than to do it right.
“That position statement has four critical points that will make or break success,” he added. “First, the participation must be active. You have to join committees, volunteer and get involved. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it. Second, the number of participants from a company must be limited, usually to some single-digit number. With only a few people involved, it is easier for there to be effective communication and prioritization among these participants.
“Third, the people must be key players,” Dr. Duncan said. “Industry association participants must be decision makers who are high enough in their companies that they are empowered to make decisions and commitments for the company in these groups. Fourth, the purpose of the participation must be to bring value, both to the industry organization and to the company. There are many ways to accomplish this, but if the participant’s focus is on bringing value, there is plenty of value to obtain.”
Dr. Duncan said that TAGA and RadTech have a lot in common, in that both have a strong focus on technology and both have a strong emphasis on student participation.
“While the RadTech group is quite a bit larger than TAGA, both are filled with people who are passionate about their business and their technology,” Dr. Duncan added. “This active membership in both organizations makes it a joy to work with them, unlike some volunteer organizations where any progress at all is accomplished only after an extensive period of herding cats. My goal as president of both TAGA and RadTech is to help bring a little focus to activities but more so just to get out of the way of member-driven actions by internal committees.
“It’s been great fun developing synergies between the two associations,” he added. “We have had traditional RadTech personages speak at TAGA, and we’ve had sharing of TAGA student resources to allow RadTech to offer monetary awards for superior student activities. Members of both groups come largely to learn and both groups are well qualified to deliver top-value content.”
Understandably, Dr. Duncan is a strong believer in the importance of trade associations.
“The organizations certainly benefit from broad industry support and membership,” he said. “When I travel, I always remind customers who I visit about both organizations, but not just as a service to the associations. Rather, I mention them because the value to be obtained by the individual through participation is so high that my conscience won’t let me NOT tell people about it. I’m a TAGA and RadTech evangelist – they have been so good for me and my career that it would be selfish and uncaring in the extreme if I did not share this with practically everyone I meet.”