Standing Out in the Hall

Meet the newest inductees in The Electroplating Hall of Fame.

When Products Finishing opened the nominations for the 2015 Electroplating Hall of Fame last winter, we weren’t really sure how many people would be interested in submitting names for consideration.

But when the list quickly grew to more than 40 in just a few weeks, we knew that we had somehow scratched the surface of retelling the story of the industry’s history.

This issue is dedicated to several annual milestones, the biggest of which is the preview of the National Association for Surface Finishing’s Sur/Fin conference taking place in Chicago in June. You can read all about the speakers and presentations at the show, as well as what new innovations will be on display from industry suppliers.

But we are also announcing 2015 inductees into the Electroplating Hall of Fame, the second such class to be so honored. If you recall, we did a “tongue in cheek” story last year when Sur/Fin visited Cleveland near the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. We asked the question: Who would be the initial class into the Electroplating Hall of Fame?

We consulted with numerous industry sources and scholars, and came up with the “Fab Five:” Luigi Brugnatelli, Colin Fink, Lubomyr Ramankiw, Kevie Schwartz and John Wright, all of whom made significant contributions to the progression of technology and innovation in electroplating.

The response we received from readers and others in the industry made us want to make this an annual tradition of recognizing those who have a significant impact on how the industry has been shaped, developed and grown.

That set the steps in motion to bring together a dozen of the industry’s brightest and most notable and ask them to consider the nominations from readers. I didn’t have a vote in the process, but I agree wholeheartedly with whom the committee selected for this year’s induction:

 

William Blum, who led the electrodeposition section of the National Bureau of Standards and was instrumental in bringing the science of electroplating into the manufacturing sector.

 

Henry Brown, whose principal work was the development of organic additive agents, especially for bright nickel plating baths.

 

Michael Faraday, perhaps the greatest experimental scientist in history, whose research in the practical use of the electrolytic processes gave us Faraday’s Law of Electrolysis.

 

Richard Hull, who patented an invention called the Hull Cell, which forever changed the world of plating.

 

Oliver Watts, one of the top researchers in nickel plating whose results culminated in the modern Watts Nickel Bath.

 

There’s no question that these five gentlemen’s body of work resulted in electroplating being what it is today when it comes to manufacturing. Remove them from the history of the industry and what would you have?

That said, it was a very tough choice for our committee, which consisted of James Abbott, Dave Anzures, Richard Crain, Brad Durkin, Jim Jones, Richard Leopold, James Lindsay, Dave Marsh, Jerry Poll, William Saas, William Rosenberg and Erik Weyls.

Sifting through the several dozen nominations was a dedicated process. The committee held several discussions, and bounced ideas around before finally deciding to vote on whom each thought would be the top five individuals to induct into this year’s class.

Some of the nominations were of individuals now long since deceased, which relates to the fact that we are still in a ‘catch-up’ phase of bringing to life the stories of those in the late 1800s and early 1900s who led the electroplating industry from a period of sometimes unorganized silos working in a trial-and-error environment, to one of organized cooperation and industry collaboration that moved it forward and was more embraced by the manufacturing sector.

Going forward, I would imagine we will start to see more business leaders and industry supporters from the 1930s on become considered for nomination, which would put us in a perfect timeline to recognize those who put their wallets where their brains were, and financed some of the companies which pushed the electroplating industry into the industrial revelation and periods of prosperity during World War I and II.

We’ll start the process again this fall and winter, looking to recognize those individuals who made their mark on the electroplating industry and therefore should be remembered for their accomplishments and be so honored.

Next year at this time, we will announce the 2016 Electroplating Hall of Fame class and celebrate the individuals who got us to where we are today. And as you possibly sit in on a lecture presentation at Sur/Fin, ask yourself: “Am I listening to a future Hall of Famer?”