Dow’s Harry Engelhardt on Meeting Humanitarian Needs Worldwide
Jessica Nall, Associate Editor
Industry can provide solutions for cleaner air, water and land
T o Harry Engelhardt Jr., The Dow Chemical Company isn’t just his place of employment. As a “Dow baby,” the company is part of his childhood, community and heritage. Engelhardt, site leader of Dow’s Houston Area Operations for the Deer Park, Bayport and La Porte, Texas, locations, was born in a Dow hospital on Dow property and is a second generation Dow employee following in his father’s footsteps. His position at Dow has since given him the opportunity to travel the world and work with people on all seven continents. Through his extensive experience, Engelhardt said he has learned the humanitarian needs of people are all the same, no matter to which end of the earth you travel.
“We all want clean air, clean water, jobs and the convenience and health brought by industry,” Engelhardt said. “Mankind is alike everywhere I’ve been.”
With that in mind, Engelhardt has developed a personal philosophy that coincides with that of Dow — a philosophy that inspires, motivates and encourages people to do what is best for the betterment of all.
“We’re your neighbors who work, play, live, study and deliver value right here in your community,” Engelhardt said of his company. “We are successful at it because we have access to outstanding technical tools and high levels of knowledge and know-how. I want the same things our community wants — clean water, clean land and clean air. Like many others here, I like to be outdoors fishing, hunting and spending time with my family. Conservation is important to me and to them. It’s not a trade off. You don’t have to give up one for the other. You can have industry that brings you safety, health and convenience along with a clean earth.”
Engelhardt uses this philosophy to lead the sites under his wing. As site leader for three Texas locations, Engelhardt is responsible for personnel, safety performance, HS&E performance, hardware (equipment) and external relationships. Engelhardt also acts as the company liaison among the community, local officials and regulatory agencies. His position also requires he represent the local arenas associated with permits, maintaining Dow’s emission levels at or below permitted levels, taxation and government officials.
When Dow acquired Rohm and Haas in 2009, Engelhardt also had to lead his team in integrating two very different operating models — Rohm and Haas’ customer led approach versus Dow’s process and metrics led approach.
“From a cultural perspective, we have married the awesome customer focus of Rohm and Haas with strong Dow processes — a great combination,” Engelhardt said. “I know the introduction and implementation of specific work process are not always easy to accept, but the team at Deer Park has stepped up and they made these improvements possible. Others might think replacing existing ways with processes and procedures is replacing their abilities, but the people of Dow’s Houston Area Operations have shown they can be best in class for the company and in our industry.”
To be successful at his position and properly lead his team, Engelhardt said experience in the industry, accountability and a sense of where you are going are critical.
“A breadth of experience in manufacturing and engineering is a must,” Engelhardt said. “It is also important to have the ability to anticipate and work through changes that will impact people where they live, work and play while supporting the overall mission of the company. Dow’s culture gives employees a lot of responsibility and accountability early in their career and if you do well with that you can have a fulfilling Dow career.
“Successful people at Dow have a strong sense of ownership, thus they tend to internalize and personalize their actions and decisions on any given subject. In my view, if you do it to my site or my community — you do it to me.”
Commitment to community, safety
Dow has played a significant role in the La Porte community since acquiring the site in 1985, and Rohm and Haas (now the Deer Park site) has been an important part of the community since 1947. Throughout the years, Engelhardt said all of the company’s Houston Area Operations have established a long-standing relationship with local communities.
“We are the community in a sense — we live, work and shop as Dow employees, contractors and vendors — so we care as much about our schools, air quality, jobs, finances and all community issues as much as anyone,” Engelhardt said. “The things we support financially are things that are important to the community and are important to Dow.”
Dow actively participates in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs at local schools to influence students to follow career paths related to those subjects.
Engelhardt said part of its commitment to community also means a commitment to safety for its workers, something Dow has been able to accomplish by implementing outstanding processes and strong employee commitment.
But with success comes challenges, both for Dow and the industry as a whole. Engelhardt said one of Dow’s biggest challenges is being in competition with countries that provide cheaper products.
“We have a second chance in the United States to access cheaper feedstock and energy prices with hydraulic fracturing of shale gas right here,” Engelhardt said. “The United States can be globally competitive again and surpass our competition. Some areas of the world can provide good labor, while others provide good feedstock prices. Right here on the Texas Gulf Coast we have both — a talented and knowledgeable work force and the ability for cheaper raw materials.”
To ensure the United States continues to be competitive, Engelhardt said the industry must work closely with government and agencies to implement science-based, results-oriented regulations and policies and those must be executed flawlessly
“Dow is a science-based company and, through science, we continue to create solutions that improve quality of life,” he said. “I am bullish on science-based solutions because as this world and society continue to change and innovate very quickly, the extremely talented people of Dow’s Houston Area Operations are building molecules and creating solutions to address a host of challenges.”
As Engelhardt helps his company and The industry conquer these challenges, he said the most important part of securing a successful future is making each day count. To accomplish this goal, Engelhardt said his wife, faith and country are what have driven and motivated his actions, and his seven children have kept him focused and provided him perspective both on the job and off.
“We create the future by what we do today,” Engelhardt said. “The best gift I can give to the employees here and to this community is longevity of this site. By offering great jobs, community support, continuing to produce products without adversely impacting air quality and continuing to add revenue to the company, we can earn longevity. I want my work here to earn years and years of longevity to this site.”
The Dow Chemical Company
Houston Area Operations
1900 Tidal Road
Deer Park, TX 77536
Products: Alcohols, carbolxylic acids, esters, aldehydes, emulsion polymers, Styrofoam instulation, ISONATETM isocyanate, PAPITM isocyanate, methacrylates, acrylates, Primene®, specialty hydroxy monomers and proprietary monomers.
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