A Conversation with…Joe Subda, Axalta Coating Systems

Subda joined Axalta’s ecoat product group in 1990 and received the George E.F. Brewer Award at the ECOAT16 conference in February.


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Joe Subda is a senior product specialist at Axalta Coating Systems in Michigan. He began his career with Axalta in 1986 working at a Ford facility in New Jersey, and joined Axalta’s electrocoat product group in 1990. The author of more than 20 papers, 15 articles and co-author of Electrocoating: A Guidebook for Finishers, Subda received the George E.F. Brewer Award at the ECOAT16 conference in February. He enjoys biking with wife Susie, pictured at right along the Danube River in Austria.



Joe Subda, Axalta Coating Systems, with wife, Susie.


PF: What was your reaction when you learned you were receiving the George E.F. Brewer Award at ECOAT16?

JS: Surprise and gratitude. I never imagined that I would get a Brewer Award. I am very grateful that my peers believe that my contributions to electrocoating warrant a Brewer Award.


PF: You’ve given a lot of presentations at conferences, and written plenty of technical articles. It seems that is a lost art. How do you do so much of that?

JS: This may come as a surprise, but I do not like to write. However, I love the finished work more than I dislike writing, so I keep writing. I consistently write a lot of short pieces or ideas that may be as brief as a couple of sentences. They are ideas that could eventually be used in a story, paper or presentation. I then file them away until there is enough to make an article or paper. If I have a request for a specific topic or type of article, I will assemble what I have on the topic and then build an article. In addition to writing articles about coatings, I have written articles about camping, campers and travel.


PF: How did you get your start in the coating industry?

JS: My father-in-law suggested that I consider the coating industry. He held a prominent position at a leading coating company and convinced me to work there. At first, I thought he just wanted to make sure this young guy could provide for his daughter. Who could blame him for that? But, I now realize that he saw potential in me.


PF: What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?

JS: I actually had two first jobs. I worked for my grandfather and worked a second job for my dad’s business; both were very influential in my life. My grandfather was a mechanic and my dad had a gas station/garage. I helped my grandfather with side jobs on the weekends and worked with my dad after school. I learned if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing right. I also learned to always do your best and to treat people fairly. So from a young age, I was taught the value of hard work.


PF: What was your first car, and what is your dream car?

JS: My first car was a Triumph Herald convertible. My dream car is a 1967 AC Cobra.


PF: What leadership traits have helped you along the way?

JS: Effective listening, faith and trust have proven to be very beneficial to me professionally and personally.


PF: When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?

JS: A racecar driver.


PF: What organization or company aside from your own do you most admire?

JS: This is an interesting question. My first thought is McDonald’s, because I can go almost anywhere in the world and get a Big Mac and fries that taste just like the ones at home. This can be very comforting when you are in a foreign place.


PF: If you could trade jobs with anyone for a day, who would it be?

JS: I would like to be the engineer on the steam locomotive at Disney World, a job I would like to do when I retire.


PF: Best way to keep a competitive edge?

JS: Never stop learning and trying to better yourself.


PF: What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?

JS: Just continue doing what you’re doing. It’s going to work out fine. 


Get to Know Joe

Family: Mother; wife Susie and children Emily, Joey, Annie, David and Mikey; grandchildren Stevie and Jacob.

Favorite hobby: Woodworking, bicycling and backpacking

Favorite movie: Blazing Saddles

Favorite book: Before spell-check, I would have said a dictionary. I read a lot, but I don't have a favorite book.

What’s playing in your car CD/radio: Rolling Stones, jazz or rock.


Originally published in June 2016.


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