Tuesday, September 20, 2011

There is Lots of Money to be had in the Plastics Industry

I am very surprised that that one scene from the beginning of the movie "The Graduate" is still being kept alive, the one where Mr. McGuire tells Benjamin "Plastics", advice to help him make lots of money, but while the movie is now irrelevant [*], the advice might have more longevity than we think. Plastics News came out with their annual list of top-paid executives in the plastics industry, and while some of these people aren't quite as wealthy as yesterday's executive, Zhang Yin, the income of a few of the executives was eyepopping. How about the $58 million in compensation for Frank Stronach, the Chairman of Magna International, the Canadian auto parts manufacturer? Or the $20 million for Belinda Stronach (Frank's daughter), also of Magna International? Or the $16 million to Donald Walker, CEO of Magna International. Or the $15 million to Siegfried Wolf, of ... you guessed it...Magna International? That's a total of $109 million! Yes, there is lots of money to be had in the plastics industry, at least if you are in or near the corner office. Polymer scientists and engineers such as myself only make far less than 1 percent of that.

The next person on the list is the first person to break the Magna International logjam, and that is Mark Ketchum of New Rubbermaid ($9.3 million), but than we go right back to Magna International management again with Vincent Galifi ($8.9 million). One last Magna International executive is on the list at the #10 spot, Jeffrey Palmer ($6.9 million). While their certainly is plenty of doom-and-gloom to go around in the plastics industry, some small corners are doing quite fine by nearly anyone's outlook.

[*] Afterall, the movie came out 44 years ago in 1967, and it's not like everyone has seen it. It may have been an important movie back then, but it's time has come and gone. Think I'm wrong? Ask some Gen-X or Gen-Y person any question about the movie's storyline, such as "Who was Mrs. Robinson?" or "How does the movie end?", yet they all will know the line "Plastics".

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