The interview begins as Harold Eugene Thayer recalls his family background and growing up in Rochester, New York, during the early Depression. He remembers the strong influence of his mother and his decision to attend MIT, where he pursued a course combining chemical engineering and business administration. As the interview continues, Thayer describes his first job, training in sales at American Cyanamid and his decision to leave for a position with Mallinckrodt Chemical Works. At Mallinckrodt, Thayer became involved in work for the War Production Board and then the Manhattan District, where he managed much of the company's uranium processing. The central portion of the interview focuses on Thayer's long-standing outspokenness in management discussions, his relationship with Edward Mallinckrodt, Jr. , and his rise through management to presidency of the company. As president, Thayer was responsible for Mallinckrodt's strong growth, accomplished primarily by structural reorganization, developing the company's niche in the diagnostic products market, and making key successful acquisitions. While the interview highlights Thayer's views on the importance of teamwork, selflessness, and integrity throughout the company's work, it also examines some management mistakes and problems over the years. Concluding comments describe Thayer's community affairs work, his views of government regulation and chemical innovation, and his pride in receiving the Society of Chemical Industry Medal.
James J. Bohning was professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he had been a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was CHF’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society. Bohning passed away in September 2011.
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