August 28, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
67°F

Leading the fight against corrosion

By MARIA KACIK

Staff Writer

Dan Dunmire calls corrosion “a pervasive, insidious menace.”

As director of corrosion policy and oversight for the U.S. Department of Defense, his job is to protect the department’s assets from corrosion, such as tanks, ships and airplanes. Dunmire said his department currently spends $15 billion annually in direct costs dealing with corrosion.

“And that’s understated,” Dunmire said.

Last week, Dunmire was in Brunswick to meet with industry leaders to see what role Medina County and the surrounding region might play in thinning that figure.

The county is home to multiple companies that deal with different aspects in corrosion control, including Brunswick Hills Township’s RPM International, Corrpro in Medina and Philpott Rubber Co. in Brunswick.

In addition, the University of Akron is now planning the country’s first bachelor’s program in corrosion engineering to be offered at its main campus. Also, an associate’s degree in corrosion engineering and other corrosion certifications eventually will be offered at the University of Akron’s Medina County University Center in Lafayette Township.

On June 18, Dunmire met with Sue Louscher, director of the university center, and Mike Baach, vice president of Philpott. The three discussed the program to be offered at the University of Akron and what effects it would have on the corrosion industry and industry within Medina County.

“We only have so many resources and so it always makes sense that we sort of work together and we have a common goal of preventing corrosion,” Dunmire said at the offices of Philpott in the Brunswick Industrial Park. “Industry wants to make money. We want to protect the war fighter. It always comes down to protecting the war fighter.”

But it goes beyond the fighter, Dunmire explained. It projects onto all of society.

The defense department “mirrors society. And so what we actually do for our equipment and infrastructure for helping the war fighter can really be applied to the infrastructure of the whole,” he said. “And so it all comes together. What’s good for the war fighter is good for the American taxpayer.”

Baach said in many cases throughout society and industry items can be protected from corrosion at 10 percent of the cost of replacement. “Corrosion prevention is highly economical,” he said.

Plus, he said it will boost the economy in Northeast Ohio.

“It creates jobs. And there is no way that you can outsource this stuff. The jobs that Dan (Dunmire) is creating are going to be done here by American workers. And because Northeast Ohio and Medina in particular are homes for many corrosion prevention companies, it means jobs in our region,” Baach said.

Louscher said the University of Akron will be supplying workers for a lot of those jobs that will be coming.

On June 17, the defense department presented the university with a check for $500,000 to be used to develop the corrosion engineering program.

Louscher explained the curriculum for the program is being put together and soon will go through the university approval process. The first classes in the corrosion engineering program could be offered as early as the fall of 2009, she said.

The university also would work to have the program accredited, she said.

“We’re every excited because it’s a very multidisciplinary degree program. A lot of the coursework is already being offered across the university in different colleges,” Louscher said. She explained the university would blend existing classes in addition to creating original specialized coursework.

Louscher said the university center is leading the effort to partner with the National Association of Corrosion Engineers to make corrosion engineering certifications more widely available. The classes would be hosted online on the University of Akron’s server.

As it develops the bachelor’s program at its main campus, Akron also is looking at offering an associate’s degree program that would be hosted primarily at the university center.

Dunmire said that new regulations regarding corrosion control will mean that individuals trained in the area will be needed.

“The University of Akron had great foresight in seeing this coming,” Dunmire said. “There’s going to be a requirement for expertise, which is not really in the pipeline right now. … By the time the industry starts to react to the new requirements, students will already be graduating. There should be a natural demand for these kids.”

New owner

It’s a new start for Petland at 1037 N. Court St. in Medina and the new owners want to celebrate their purchase of the store by giving back to the community.

Pam and Bryan Stevens of Avon purchased Petland in January. Since then the two have remodeled the store, purchased their animals from a new network of breeders, added additional kennels and doubled the amount of products they sell.

“We have turned the store around,” said Bryan Stevens. “We have better products and more products.”

From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, the store will host a charity dog wash for the Medina chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Stevens said they will wash dogs of all sizes in exchange for donations for the SPCA. Participants also will receive gift bags of pet products the store has assembled.

“The normal charity work for Petland corporate is St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. But we wanted to do a local fundraiser,” Bryan Stevens said. “Working with the local SPCA is what my staff wanted to do.”

Kacik may be reached at 330-721-4049 or business@ohio.net.