Today, Thursday December 4th, 2014 I learned that my friend Don Greene passed away two days prior, at the age of only 71.
I met Don when he made a quarterly sales call five years ago, during my time as a cosmetic/household products formulator. At our first meeting, we shot the breeze talked some business, spoke about surfactants, quaternary ammonium compounds, mutually complained about the over regulation of these chemicals and spoke some more about the various subjects men generally discuss. I immediately liked him, just as everyone did.
Don was a microbiologist and I’m guessing while in school, he never imagined what an impact he would make on cosmetics industry. Starting out at the Onyx Chemical Company (anyone that knew Don will tell you this), Don worked on preservatives and disinfectants. After some mergers, he ended up at Stepan (the largest anionic surfactant manufacturer in the world) and finally at Surfactants, Inc. as the Regulatory Compliance Officer. Although this was his title, he was a salesman as well, a damn good one, a Rock Star in the field.
If you’ve ever used any liquid produced in North America that foams or bubbles…shampoo, body wash, dish soap, dog shampoo, baby shampoo, laundry detergent, toothpaste and any other foaming, soapy concoction in-between, most likely, Don knew, sold to, gave technical guidance and was held in very high regard by the manufacturer.
I can think of several times Don helped me with surfactant formulations and preservative blends, He always knew the answer. He was the first person I would call if I was stuck.
Most of all, I always looked forward to having lunch with Don during a visit. I gladly dropped whatever project I was working on at the time to speak with Don about chemicals, guy stuff and so on. Just a very cool guy. To my knowledge, Don is one of the only other individuals that enjoyed speaking at length about chemicals, how they worked, and their various applications.
One conversation Don and I had particularly helped me in the business I’m in now… generating static electricity. We spoke about quaternary ammonium compounds (quats) and their applications. Our conversation revolved around disinfectants, but an interesting tangent to the discussion regarding antistatic properties of quats had been shelved in my mind. It was mentioned due to the static electricity mitigating properties of cationic chemicals, plastics or paints incorporating this, effectively and inexpensively shield electronics from damaging charge buildup, great news for someone working with electrostatic generators and circuit boards!
Don retired last year and we haven’t spoken in several months. I do think he would be happy to know how he helped, he was like that. No doubt this quality contributed to his success both personally and professionally.
My very best wishes to his wife and daughters, which he adored. They were very lucky to have him in their lives.