Meet the Excellent Employees that Work in our Plants
NATE JOHNSON – Axiall, Lake Charles Complex
VCM Manufacturing Team Leader
10 Years with Axiall (formerly Georgia Gulf)
Job Description: Responsible for managing the Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM) production unit at the Axiall Lake Charles, La. Complex.
Contributions made to the company and community:
- Member of the Employee Safety Involvement and Emergency Response Teams at both the Aberdeen and Lake Charles North sites.
- Axiall Partners – Board Member, currently Vice-President (Lake Charles Complex): the group’s mission is to facilitate employee volunteer service for causes such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, and many others.
- Currently participating in the Leadership SWLA Program. This is a Chamber program that provides participants an opportunity to hone their leadership skills, but more importantly exposes them to critical issues that Southwest Louisiana is currently facing (regional infrastructure, government, education, etc.).
- United Way
- United Way of Greater Monroe County (Mississippi) – Board Member
- Chaired the Georgia Gulf Aberdeen (Mississippi) Campaign
- Judged the MSU Senior Chemical Engineering Design Competition for 5 years
Why did you want to be a chemical engineer?
Like most engineers, I was interested in math and science as a child, so engineering was a logical choice. I chose chemical engineering because of the diversity in the field. A ChemE degree can open the door into chemical manufacturing, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, nuclear engineering, environmental engineering, biotechnology, and numerous other fields. As a college freshman I loved the idea of choosing a major that provided such a broad range of future opportunities.
Why is science important to you?
To me science is innovation, and innovation is progress. It’s easy to take for granted all the things we use and depend on daily, be it clean water, computers, cell phones, pharmaceuticals, vehicles, plastics, etc., etc. But it can be awe inspiring to think about the fact that most, if not all, of these things did not exist just 100-150 years ago…..and wouldn’t exist today if not for the sciences.
How do you think science (chlorine/vinyl) and your company’s contributions to it has improved your community and daily life?
It would take countless pages to list all the ways the products produced in the chlorovinyl chain help improve our daily lives. Caustic is commonly used in industry for pH control and water treatment, but it’s also widely used in the production of paper and alumina. I think most people know that chlorine is used to keep our drinking water clean and sanitary, but I’m not sure they know that it’s also used to make pigment for paint and papers and in the production of pharmaceuticals. Or that the largest consumer of chlorine is a series of process in which the molecule in first converted into EDC, cracked to form VCM (this is what we do at my plant), then polymerized to form PVC. And while PVC tends to bring pipe and siding to mind, it is also used in countless other products we use every day: wire and cable coatings, windows, flooring, electrical boxes, fencing, decking, packaging, upholstery, inflatable furniture, shoe soles, credit/debit cards, rainwear, bags, luggage.
What benefits do you think can be gained from all of the growth in chemical industry in Louisiana?
Obviously, when you are talking billion dollar investments there will be a huge financial impact for the entire state. This will include significant job creation that should help drive down unemployment and increase quality of life. And I know industry is actively working in conjunction with governmental agencies to increase educational opportunities so that the residents of LA will be in a position to take advantage of these job opportunities. We have had great success working with SOWELA’s PTEC program, and I’m sure the training they are providing in areas such as instrumentation and welding is offering similar rewards to others.