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Mark Hebbeler is the laid-back marketing manager for Anest Iwata, a manufacturer of air compressors and spray equipment dating to 1926. But don’t get him started about all the confusion regarding the EPA’s NESHAP rules on paint stripping and surface coating, better known as the 6H rule that affects most auto surface coatings and paint shops. The EPA is proposing new rules for auto refinishers, and of course, confusion has reigned. But Hebbeler gets away from it all by playing on a men’s over-30 baseball league and jamming to Bootsy Collins on his ride home from work every day. We caught up with Mark as he was preparing to take the field and play in a doubleheader.
How are the provisions of the EPA’s new 6H rules regarding HAPs affecting the painting industry?
MH: Being more conscientious to environmental impacts in regards to how we are coating, and for that matter manufacturing, should be on everyone’s mind. The provisions put in place by the EPA now make everyone accountable for their actions. Some feel that these provisions are too cumbersome, but we have found that over the long run these measures are actually saving shops money in various markets.
Anest Iwata has secured endorsements from well-known painters for some of its equipment. How has that worked out, and what advice would you give someone who may go that route in marketing their products?
MH: In this country and most countries around the world, the love affair with cars is never ending, and adding a personality to your personal property never goes out of style. Having TV shows, celebrities and famous painters endorsing your product is fantastic for exposure in multiple markets. Ironically, all of the custom painter-celebrities we work with are not paid; they endorse our product because of the quality and performance they get out of our products every time.
How did you arrive in the coatings industry, and what were some of your stops along the way?
MH: After many years as a mechanical engineer and a technical illustrator in various industries, I became the marketing manager of a logistics company and could apply some of my artistic desires. I was approached by and offered a job at Anest Iwata a little over eight years ago, and since I was a little boy I loved hot rods and fast cars. So, as they say, the rest is history.
In your spare time, you play baseball—not that slow softball stuff—in a men’s league several times a week. Not to disparage you, but how does a man your age manage to stand in the box with 90-mph fastballs whizzing by? Is it still fun?
MH: Many years ago, after college, I played and managed baseball in an emerging independent professional baseball league called the Frontier League. So really, my first love is and always will be baseball. Being from Cincinnati, it is kind of abnormal not to play baseball. There are so many great players from here, and a lot of us still play in many of the men’s senior leagues in town. The competition is a lot stronger then you would think since in the ‘Nati we are all taught to play like Pete Rose!
What’s the best personal or private advice you’ve received and why did it resonate with you?
MH: During college I had a co-op job at surface cleaning company named Ransohoff and had a boss named Ed Cooper. Coming out of college, I assumed the Ed would give me a job as an engineer, but Ed saw something in me that must have reminded him about himself and he told me after two interviews that I was not ready to sit at a desk for 20 years. He said if he had to do it all over again he would pack up and go see the world. I was beside myself—how could this guy not hire me? So off on a journey I went: played baseball, saw the country, met many people from all walks of life, and only until maybe 15 years ago did I think about what he had said to me. I did exactly what he had suggested without really knowing that I was doing it. Wow, how things work out sometimes.
What CD is playing in your car, or what recent book or article would you recommend to a colleague?
MH: Really? LMAO CD’s in my vehicle, plus Yes, Lynryd Skynyrd, System of a Down, Public Enemy, Ice Cube and the must have for everybody’s collection—Parliament’s Greatest Hits, featuring George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars.