Ralph L. Harding - Hall of Fame Entry
Author: Plastics Academy Staff
[ Not Rated Yet ]
Ralph L. Harding
Material, Process, Management, Machinery
Successfully led the SPI during the industry's most turbulent and crisis-filled times. Worked diligently as Chief Operating Officer (1967-1981) of the SPI, a time when the organization helped the plastics industry overcome a variety of major obstacles.
During the 70s, the industry was beset by layers of environmental and legislative issues. Harding's personal persuasion and involvement kept the plastics industry united in the face of internal and external forces that would have left it weak and powerless.
His efforts helped prevent a major split in the Plastics Pipe Institute between opposing groups committed to the use of differing material standards. He succeeded in proving that the plastics pipe industry would best be served by unity.
He led the society through a major structural examination and reorientation. Under his able leadership, and using the invaluable experience of a "blue ribbon" committee of plastics industry leaders, the SPI "Plan for Growth" was produced in 1969. This dynamic plan was keynoted with the fundamental mission: "Let the Society stand for UNITY and do everything possible to bring every group of interested plastics industry members within the Society's framework."
During his tenure, he also dealt effectively with major threats to the continued manufacture and use of polyvinyl chloride, acrylonitrile, and polyurethane foam. With the able assistance of SPI's legal staff, he fought off oppressive, anti-plastics attempts to have the use of these materials all but banished. Proceedings at OSHA, the EPA, and the FTC all had to be handled effectively so that the large affected segments of the industry could survive. His vision brought together the right people in the industry to give these activities strength and purpose.
He also directed the defeat of a New York City effort at taxing all plastic containers, beginning in 1972. The pressures brought on the industry by the energy crisis also required his attention. His statesmanship was essential to maintaining unity between processors and material suppliers during times of acute material shortages. Despite all these forces of dissolution, the SPI under Ralph Harding's stewardship, grew in influence and service to the plastics industry.
Ralph and his wife, Mary Lamb, live in New Canaan, CT. They have three children and three grandchildren.