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October 1

6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Pre-Event Network Mixer

The Foundry Table & Tap

October 2

8:00 a.m.

Continental Breakfast

Sponsored by Pittsburgh Regional Alliance

8:30 a.m. - 9:10 a.m.

Legislative/Regulatory Update

Eric Byer, NACD (National Association of Chemical Distributors)

9:20 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.

Merger & Acquisitions in the Chemical Sector

Gaurav Bhati, A.T. Kearney

10:10 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.

Buyer / Seller Relationships, and the associated forces at work in Industrial Distribution

Jim Baehr, Sourcing Strategies Group

11:00 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

ERP for the Chemical Industry

Gus Towers, Microsoft

Emir Dobraca, Edgewater Fullscope

12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Lunch with Keynote

Chemical Distribution – Proven and Re-Imagined

Markus Klaehn, President & CEO, Brenntag North America, Inc.

2:15 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Transportation & Logistics Panel Discussion

Tom Janssens, Westlake Chemical

Avery Vise, FTR Transportation Intelligence

Neal Rothchild, CLX Logistics

Brian Spiller, Watco Companies

3:40 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.

Becoming (and Remaining) an Industry Leader Requires Actually Learning to Lead

Dr. Crystal G. Morrison, EverRise

4:30 p.m.

Networking Reception

Sponsored by Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc., PITTCON, & Ergon

Markus Klaehn

Keynote Speaker
Markus Klaehn

President & CEO
Brenntag North America, Inc.

Markus started his career in Germany with Brenntag’s parent company, Stinnes AG, in 1994 and has held various international Executive positions within the Brenntag Group during his career. His experience includes Head of Corporate Development, M&A and IT for Brenntag Group; Chief Financial Officer, Brenntag Latin America; and President, Brenntag Northeast, Inc.

He took over operational responsibility for Brenntag North America in 2011 as COO. In February of 2013 he was appointed President of Brenntag North America, Inc. and that October was also named CEO. On July 1, 2015 Markus was appointed to the Brenntag AG Management Board with responsibility for the North America region.

Markus graduated from the University of Ulm with a degree in Mathematics prior to getting his Master’s Degree in International Economics from the University of Paris. Markus, his wife Heather, and three children reside in Wayne, PA.

Eric Byer

Conference Speaker
Eric R. Byer

President, National Association of Chemical Distributors

Eric R. Byer joined NACD in January 2014 as president. He came to NACD with nearly twenty years of experience in government and public affairs as well as organizational operations. Prior to NACD, Eric was senior vice president at Obadal, Filler, MacLeod & Klein, PLC, (OFMK) where he led strategic communications, marketing, programs, and government affairs as well as policy initiatives for the firm’s largest clients.

Before his tenure at OFMK, Eric was the chief operating officer and vice president of government and industry affairs at the National Air Transportation Association, where he led external affairs and internal operations for the $6.1 million organization.

Earlier in his career, he served as senior government relations coordinator for Smith, Bucklin, and Associates. He was also a legislative assistant to U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Government Reform and Oversight Chairman William F. Clinger, Jr. (R-Pa.). He also served as an intern for the late Rep. Dean Gallo (R-N.J.).

Eric holds a B.A. in Political Science from Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and an M.A. in Government from Johns Hopkins University.

Gaurav Bhati

Conference Speaker
Gaurav Bhati

Manager, A.T. Kearney

Gaurav Bhati is a Manager with the Chemical practice of A.T. Kearney. His areas of expertise are M&A and supply chain transformation. Born in New Delhi, India. He attended the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad where he received his MBA. Gaurav also attended the Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology where he received a B.E. in Computer Science. Before joining A. T. Kearney, Gaurav previously worked at Deloitte as an analyst. Gaurav lives in New York City with his wife. He is an avid reader, and reads around 50 books a year.

Jim Baehr

Conference Speaker
Jim Baehr

Group Lead, Sourcing Strategies Group

Jim Baehr is the Lead for the Sourcing Strategies Group LLC (SSG) supporting the Supply Management needs of clients in both the Public and Private sectors. Prior to forming SSG, he was an independent advisor for several years.

His most recent corporate roles were as Vice President of Global Information Technology Procurement for Reed Elsevier, and Director of Technical & Services Procurement for Bayer Corporation. Jim has extensive experience in Senior Management positions and a successful career in Sales.

Currently, Jim is the President of the ISM – Pittsburgh Affiliate; a member of the Board of Governors of the Joint Chemical Group of Pittsburgh; and a member of the Visionary Council of Coupa Software Incorporated based in San Mateo, CA.

Emir Dobraca

Conference Speaker
Emir Dobraca

Account Executive, Edgewater, Fullscope (A Microsoft Partner)

Emir Dobraca is an Edgewater Fullscope account executive focused on helping chemical manufacturers transform their businesses using Microsoft technology. Emir began his software career as a functional consultant and project manager evaluating and implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX and SAP. He brings over 7 years of manufacturing expertise to the Microsoft award-winning Fullscope team. Over the last 4 years, Dobraca has developed a deep understanding of the challenges chemical manufacturers face and he’s helped chemical manufacturers meet regulatory compliance, manage inventory precision, and respond quickly to rapidly changing market conditions with the robust Microsoft ERP, Dynamics 365.

Emir holds a B.S. degree in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and an M.S. degree in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University.

Gus Towers

Conference Speaker
Gus Towers

Solution Specialist, Microsoft

Gus Towers graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BA in Communications. He has 20 years of experience selling in/to the manufacturing. With over 12 years selling Business Applications focusing on process manufacturing. He has been with Microsoft for 4 years as a Solution Specialist for the Dynamics 365 Business Applications platform which consists of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations and Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement. Gus is an expert in ERP software. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a business process management software that allows an organization to use a system of integrated applications to manage the business, automate processes and reduce the costs of day-to-day business operations.

Neal Rothchild

Conference Speaker
Neal Rothchild

International Sales Manager, CLX Logistics

Neal Rothchild is a 25-year logistics professional, serving in the Trucking, Air Freight and International Freight Forwarding industries. Mr. Rothchild is further distinguished by related experiences in manufacturing, comprising of both production planning and operational management in various S+OP roles. Neal is very active in the supply chain community serving on numerous boards such as APICS, ISM, and the CSCMP and is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati where he studied Physics, Communications and Accounting. Currently, Neal Rothchild is the International Sales Manager at CLX Logistics, a leading chemical transportation provider and global 3PL.

Tom Janssens

Conference Speaker
Tom Janssens

Vice President Corporate Development, Logistics & IT, Westlake Chemical

Tom Janssens, Vice President Corporate Development, Logistics & IT, joined Westlake Chemical in 2015. Tom provides strategic and tactical leadership for logistics on an enterprise wide bases for all modes of transportation; managing Westlake’s fleet of 16,000 railcars and 110 barges. He leads corporate development and M&A, as well as overseeing corporate information technology, computing, digital, ERP, cybersecurity and data management.

Tom is graduate of Eindhoven University of Technology with a MSc in Chemical engineering; and earned his MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. His professional experience includes working for Shell in Europe and Asia in refining operations, commercial and strategic planning roles. As a partner with McKinsey & Company Tom served clients in energy and chemicals globally on strategy, operation and M&A.

Outside of work, Tom enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, diving and cooking.

Avery Vise

Conference Speaker
Avery Vise

Vice President, Trucking Research, FTR | Transportation Intelligence

Avery is Vice President, Trucking Research at FTR. Avery has closely studied the transportation industry for more than 30 years as an editor, analyst, and researcher, including nearly 20 years dedicated to the trucking industry. He served as executive director of trucking research and analysis for Randall-Reilly from 2011 to 2013 after a decade as the chief editor of that company’s Commercial Carrier Journal.

During his time leading CCJ, Mr. Vise also served as the magazine’s principal industry analyst with responsibility for tracking economic and financial trends affecting the trucking industry. Among his accomplishments at Randall-Reilly were conceiving of and spearheading the initial development of the company’s RigDig Business Intelligence offering and managing the annual CCJ Top 250 ranking of North American for-hire trucking companies. Mr. Vise also managed a trucking industry analysis offering that was produced jointly by Randall-Reilly and FTR. He also received four Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Awards for his coverage of and commentary on the trucking industry.

Mr. Vise joined Randall-Reilly in 1998 as founding editor of Trucking Co. Magazine, which was merged into CCJ in 2001. Previously, he spent 13 years at McGraw-Hill in Washington, D.C., as congressional editor of Aviation Daily and editor of a weekly newsletter on airport development and operations.

Immediately prior to joining FTR, Mr. Vise was president of TransComply, a firm that assists primarily small trucking operations with regulatory compliance and best practices in freight contracting, and also was principal of TransAdvise, which provides research, analysis and consulting on the North American transportation market. He speaks frequently on the trucking industry at conferences, on SiriusXM and at other venues. Before joining TransComply in 2015, he was manager of public relations for Volvo Trucks in North America.

Mr. Vise is a graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He and his wife Julie live in the Birmingham, Alabama, area with their three children.

Brian Spiller

Conference Speaker
Brian Spiller

Director of Commercial & Marketing, WATCO Companies, LLC

Brian is the Director of Commercial and Marketing with WATCO Companies, LLC. WATCO Companies is a multimodal transportation and logistics company, owning and operating 39 shortline railroads, 89 terminals and ports, 18 mechanical repair facilities, and a supply chain services group, who arranges cargo moves globally, in all modes of transportation.

Brian is currently responsible for commercial relationships within an assigned division. These customer relationships include railroads, various transportation companies, refineries, chemical manufactures and many others. Brian is also responsible for new growth opportunities across the company.

His most recent corporate roles include Assistant Vice President of Operations, Director of Operations Northeast, and General Manager of Switching Operations. Prior to joining WATCO, Brian spent ten years with U.S. Steel holding numerous positions of increasing responsibility. In addition to his work, Brian currently serves as the Vice President of the Pittsburgh Traffic Club, a multi-state organization of transportation, logistical and supply chain professionals. He is also a member of the American Shortline and Regional Railroad Association, the Transload Distribution Association of North America, and the Traffic Clubs of New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. Brian, his wife Kellie and two children reside in Harrison City, PA.

Dr. Crystal G. Morrison

Conference Speaker
Dr. Crystal G. Morrison

Founder & CEO, EverRise

Dr. Crystal G. Morrison is a highly regarded scientist and leader who is passionate about developing people and organizations to their highest potential. She believes strongly that innovation is an act of leadership not just creativity. With extensive experience across industry, academia and national labs, Dr. Morrison knows what it takes to build and lead successful teams that create lasting value and bring products from concept to reality.

Dr. Morrison holds a Ph.D. in Macromolecular Science and Engineering and a B.S. in Chemistry. Following graduate school at the University of Michigan, Dr. Morrison was a Harold Agnew National Security Postdoctoral Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and later became a staff member, team leader and program leader before moving to Pittsburgh, PA. Since LANL, she has held successive leadership roles, including global R&D leader in a Fortune 500 company for 2 business units covering 11 unique market segments with over $2.5B in annual sales. In 2018, Dr. Morrison converted her passion for people, technology and leadership into EverRise. EverRise is focused on uncovering and unleashing hidden potential in technical professionals and organizations to deliver growth and long-term sustainability.

Outside of her work, Crystal enjoys adventures with her husband and three children. They are often found jogging and biking the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, walking in their Pittsburgh neighborhood, or working out at the gym.