Jerome H. Heckman - Hall of Fame Entry
Author: Plastics Academy Staff
[ Not Rated Yet ]
Jerome H. Heckman
Senior and founding partner of the law firm of Keller and Heckman, Washington, DC. Devoted his professional life to representing the plastics industry in general and the SPI in particular, serving as General Counsel to SPI.
As counselor and advisor to every chief executive officer of SPI in its history, Heckman has been instrumental in shaping and implementing the Society's mission to promote and protect the plastics industry in the U.S. In particular, he worked long and hard to open new markets and to keep existing markets open in the face of efforts to ban, tax, or otherwise unfairly restrict the sales of plastics products.
For example, in the late 50s and early 60s, Heckman worked with Bill Cruse, then president of SPI, to prevent bans of plastic garment bags -- bans that were proposed in the wake of infant suffocations occurring as a result of the misuse of polyethylene dry cleaning bags as crib or playpen covers. SPI was able to overcome an extremely hostile media environment, and Heckman quarterbacked a legislative effort, including the drafting of model legislation requiring warning labels, which successfully prevented the threatened bans. As a result, the plastic dry cleaner bag is now the standard product and there are many more uses of polyethylene film. More importantly, industry's responsible action, including the use of warning labels on bags where called for, has educated the public well enough so that reports of accidental suffocations attributable to plastic bag misuse are virtually non-existent.
In the mid-60s, Heckman worked closely on behalf of the plastic pipe industry to break a major barrier to marketing by making successful presentations of the case for ABS and PVC drain, waste, and vent pipe to the Southern Building Code Congress. In the 70s, he worked actively in fending off the wide variety of attacks on the plastics industry that occurred during this tumultuous regulatory decade. Working with Ralph Harding, Heckman in 1972 overturned in court a New York City plastic container tax law. He also prepared the filing that resulted in the FDA's favorable environmental impact statement, which cleared the way for plastic carbonated beverage and liquor bottles. Finally, with Ralph Harding, and since then, with G. R. Munger and Chuck O'Connell, Heckman has helped the industry save the market for acrylonitrile copolymers and polyvinyl chloride polymers for all uses, including food packaging, by dealing effectively with OSHA, EPA, and FDA.
He is a graduate of Georgetown University, where he received his BSS in 1948 and his JD in 1953.
Although he has never invented a plastic product or application, he has certainly been as creative as any inventor in his work in building and maintaining a business environment that has permitted the stupendous growth achieved by the industry.