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Association Bisnow
May 27, 2008



When Jack Gerard became CEO of the American Chemistry Council in 2005, major members like GE Plastics and Chevron had left the Council (formerly the Chemical Manufacturers Association) because it was trying to be "all things to all people," as Jack puts it. As a result, membership had dipped to 110 and the ACC was $8 million in the red.  


When we met Jack for a progress report in his Rosslyn office last week, he told us he's added 30 members and turned the deficit into a $10 million surplus in under three years. How? Jack says the key was streamlining everything, from a 20% staff reduction to advocating in only five to seven policy areas like energy and taxes. The ACC decides its issues using a two-page survey, distributed to members annually. The survey has up to seven categories (like security policy) with three issues per category (like chemical regulation), which members rank in order of importance. ACC analyzes the data and members get together every fall, spending three to four hours deciding which issues to tackle in the coming year. If only Congress were so efficient.         


ACC members like DuPont and ExxonMobil touch 96% of everything manufactured, turning raw materials like natural gas into things like plastic or insulation. Some members' products can be hazardous (or don't you read those labels on your household products?), so part of the ACC's $80 million budget is devoted to consumer safety. ACC's CHEMTREC? hotline, staffed round the clock by former fire fighters and police, gets about 325 calls per day on everything from hazardous waste spills to a man who superglued his teeth together.   


Jack, who got a BA and JD from GW, spent nearly 10 years as a Hill staffer, then teamed up with his boss, former Sen. James McClure (R-Idaho) to start a government relations firm, and before coming to the ACC was head of the National Mining Association.  Growing up in Mud Lake, Idaho, Jack was four merit badges shy of the 21 needed for Eagle Scout. He's making up for it now by serving as chairman of the DC area Boy Scouts, the largest local youth organization at 86,000 members. But with Jack at the helm, those chemistry badges must be pretty tough to come by.

Please send story tips to Simon Brown: simon@bisnow.com.

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