A Conversation with ... Greg Rajsky

Aluminum Anodizers Council President


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Greg Rajsky is known by many as the head of the AAC, but his many other pursuits in life make him one of the more interesting personas in the finishing industry. Rajsky (pronounced “Rice-key”) once described himself as “an assemblage of predilections,” as well as an avowed pacifist, a Harley rider, a devoted botanist, a published writer, an educator and a vegetarian. Rajsky serves as a volunteer habitat steward in his community north of Chicago, where he collects botanical data on woods and grasslands for the Chicago Wilderness Land Audits, and leads plant identification walks. So if he ever tells you to ‘take a hike,’ he means it literally.
You recently completed the AAC Conference in Quebec. How did that go, and what were the hot topics?
G.R.: We had a very successful conference in Quebec in October; our Education Committee did a commendable job in putting together a splendid program. One of our regular conference delegates said this was the best technical program he had attended. Hot topics included aerospace anodizing, etch processes, and nanotechnology.
You earned the Certified Association Executive credential from the American Society of Association Executives. Tell us about getting that distinction, and what it means to the AAC.
G.R.: The CAE designation is much like other types of professional credentialing. One goes through a period of study to prepare for the examination, building upon one’s experience and good judgment. What it means to the Council is that members and volunteer leaders can rely on the fact that I’ve demonstrated a working knowledge of best practices in leading nonprofit organizations like AAC. For the industry to prosper, for its trade association to serve it well, we all need to be our best.
What are your goals for the AAC within the next one, five and 10 years?
G.R.: Council leaders have met several times in recent years to develop and refine strategies for the organization, focused on four areas of activity: Advocacy, Education, Membership, and Promotion. Some of our key goals pertain to membership retention and growth, which provide the resources necessary to implement the programs and initiatives that benefit the members and—by extension—the anodizing industry. And academic outreach is an important new initiative. One goal is to engage enough universities to launch a student poster session at the 2011 Anodizing Conference next October in Arizona. Through academic outreach we aim not only to engage future anodizing professionals, but also to raise awareness of surface treatment—especially of aluminum—so that anodized aluminum parts and products continue to occupy a growing share of suitable markets. We’ll be promoting the use of anodized aluminum based on substantiated green-marketing messages. AAC will be a forum for exchange between end-users, anodizers, suppliers, and academia. We’ll be using social media and viral marketing to engage a global audience. The intrinsic value of belonging will be clear, and the Council will grow accordingly.
You serve as a ‘volunteer habitat steward’ in the communities that you live. What does that entail, and how did you get involved in it?
G.R.: Golly, I could write a book on that one (and maybe I will). I’ve always enjoyed being outdoors, realizing that I am a part of nature (not apart from it). About 20 years ago, a local grassroots organization explained to me that I could participate meaningfully in the ecological restoration and management of natural areas near where I live. I signed up, immersed myself in the work, and never looked back. Now I work with local nongovernmental organizations, land-owning agencies at every level of government, and even coach private landowners on how to care for their holdings. While the work is grounded in broad ecological processes, the focus is on vegetation management. Botany has become a passion for me, giving a whole new meaning to the concept of going on a “plant tour.”
You have a full week to ride your Harley anywhere you want. Take us through that route, and why?
G.R.: So many roads, so little time…
What CD is playing in your car, and what book are you currently reading?
G.R.: Ah, now we get to the deep content. Prior to the 2010 Anodizing Conference in Montreal I was thinking about what to play for walk-in/walk-out music. I picked up a CD of The Suburbs by Arcade Fire, a Montreal band, and it’s really grown on me. I like many musical genres, from progressive rock to baroque/classical; from ambient to jazz. I am currently reading The Field by Lynn McTaggart. The book cites scientific findings that debunk much of what we think we know about physics and biology. I tend to be in the middle of more than one book at a time; at the moment I am also reading Water—Its Spiritual Significance, a collection of writings from various faiths.
What the best piece of professional and personal advice you’ve received?
G.R.: Always ascribe the most noble motives to other people’s actions.