Founded in 1955 by a small group of chemical industry executives who sought to encourage an academic interest in Chemistry, the Chemistry Council of New Jersey (CCNJ), formerly the Chemical Industry Council of New Jersey, has grown in scope and presence to become one of the nation’s leading state trade associations. The new name, adopted in September 2001, reflects a more diverse membership, but it is important to recognize the historical milestones the CCNJ has marked through five decades of work in New Jersey.
Through its first decade of service, the CCNJ, under the leadership of Kenneth Klipstein of American Cyanamid, met as an informal group to share product developments and offer educational programs for students and teachers. In the early 1960s, the educational mission of the organization was best symbolized by the “Chemical Caravan,” a program that brought teachers, students and industry leaders together to discuss advancements and opportunities in the field of Chemistry.
In 1967, the informal working group proceeded to incorporate the organization and charge it with an expanded mission beyond just educational endeavors. The incorporation papers filed with the State note that the CCNJ would “inform and educate the citizens of New Jersey” as to the benefits provided by the industry, “provide leadership, information and service” to develop policies and programs, and “enhance, generally, the lawful purposes, interests and objectives of the chemical and related industries in New Jersey.” The purpose and mission for the present day CCNJ was born.
The CCNJ is the advocate and voice in New Jersey for the business of chemistry and member companies, all of whom are committed to a better quality of life through science.
With an active board, the CCNJ was housed within the State Chamber of Commerce and began to expand its membership and collect dues. In 1973, a Charter and By-Laws were formally adopted. The By-Laws formally recognized the “grassroots” structure and focus of the organization, establishing 12 county-based regions that would serve as the backbone of the CCNJ’s work. On April 1, 1973, CCNJ’s first office was opened under the leadership of Executive Director Lewis Applegate in the Holiday Inn building on West State Street.
By the early 1980s, CCNJ had over 100 dues-paying members and began to offer Associate Memberships to a variety of organizations. The work of the organization was increasingly directed to working with elected and appointed officials from across the State of New Jersey on policy concerns to industry. On October 1, 1983, the Steering Committee appointed Hal Bozarth, the CCNJ’s Secretary, to the position of Executive Director.
Soon, members of the growing association sought to form an independent, state-based industry advocacy organization to represent its interests. Therefore, on January 1, 1985, the CCNJ formally severed its administrative relationship with the State Chamber of Commerce. With a small staff, the organization began to independently represent the concerns of companies from a variety of business sectors including traditional petrochemical producers, pharmaceutical companies, flavor and fragrance formulators, precious metal companies and research laboratories. Quickly, the organization developed its own identity and reputation, independent from the State Chamber, as an effective, fair and forceful advocate for its interests. By the early 1990s, State Legislators ranked the CCNJ as one of the top advocacy organizations in New Jersey.
CCNJ will advance member interests, operational and environmental excellence, science education, and community outreach in New Jersey. CCNJ will create value for members by advocating policy and by demonstrating member commitment to a better quality of life through science.
Continuing to develop a more diverse membership throughout the 1990s, the CCNJ, more than ever before, proactively worked to advance the interests of its membership in New Jersey’s State Legislature and regulatory agencies, as opposed to simply protecting those interests. The organization led the efforts to reform “brownfields” law and to deregulate the electric marketplace. In 1999, CCNJ developed a Power Purchase Program that saved members $20 million.
As the organization’s reputation for strong advocacy and effective management grew, CCNJ began to develop strategic alliances with other associations. In 1990, the National Paint & Coatings Association asked the CCNJ to represent their legislative concerns in New Jersey on behalf of its 50 local members. In 2001, the CCNJ agreed to take over the administrative management of the New York State Chemical Alliance and its 30 member companies, a relationship, which lasted two years. Both of these alliances effectively broadened CCNJ’s horizons and scope of work to meet the demands of a changing marketplace.
No history would be complete without paying tribute to the tireless and dedicated industry leaders that have helped guide the CCNJ as Chairperson of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors. The organization is indebted to the following individuals for taking on this great responsibility and, invariably, making CCNJ a more effective representative of its membership: James L. Brannon of Union Carbide, George Polzer of Witco, Chris Hansen of Linden Chemicals & Plastics, Borden Putnam and Barry Reid of American Cyanamid, Wayne Tamarelli of Dock Resins, Carl Soderlind of Witco, Susan Engelman Volkert of Hoechst Celanese, Jay McAndrews of Mona Industries, John Schroeder of Graver Technologies, Arthur Esposito of Church & Dwight, Brian Maurer of Dow Chemical, Shaw Blythe of International Flavors and Fragrances, Leslie Waller of Messer LLC, and our present chairman, Michael Heltzer of BASF..
Even with more than a half-century of history behind the CCNJ, its mission remains the same – to provide strong and effective advocacy for its members in Trenton and across the State of New Jersey.