May 27, 2003

As you paused at this page, you probably had several reactions. The first might have been: "Who the heck are you and why are you here?"

So, first things first.

Every time a roster change occurs, whether it's a new principal at a child's school, a new mechanic at the garage or even a new kid delivering the newspaper, a lot of us react, well, cautiously.

I think that reaction is fairly normal, particularly if you'd generally been pleased with things up to that point. Stability is a pretty reassuring state of affairs.

But things do change, and life, including this magazine, goes on.

Most of us will decide to give the stranger the benefit of the doubt for a while, to see if he or she can cut it. I'll usually do that, but I also raise my expectations about what's to come. I want more. I want better. In my mind, that's the price of admission for the newbie.

That's how I hope you will react to me as the editor-in-chief of this magazine.

In the coming issues, we'll get to know one another. I'll get to know what you like about this magazine. I hope you will tell me about the areas where you want more. And where you want better.

We are likely to have war stories to exchange. You'll probably find some similarities in the jobs, problems and opportunities I've had in this business ," during stints as a plant engineer in an ink factory, a process engineer for a batch photographic chemicals plant and an operations guy for a cleanroom-rated producer of high-purity semiconductor precursors and finished chemicals.

As you might suspect, I'm a chemical engineer, but that designation by itself doesn't qualify me for much in this job. It will, however, help me to direct this magazine at those job issues that keep you up at night ," or send you home four hours late wondering why you ever wanted to do this in the first place.

You probably chose your line of work because you want to solve problems, sometimes ridiculously complex problems. You're also in that job because you're good at what you do. I think we can find a number of ways to help you perform your job even better.

We will still keep you posted on industry-wide events and regulatory issues that shape the direction and wellbeing of your company. However, we all know the economy, downsizing and acquisitions have subjected this industry to a beating. Reading about those issues will not make your job easier to do ," you still will have fewer resources, less time and probably more responsibilities than before. So we will focus on providing you with the information you need to make your job easier.

Now, that second reaction you had is likely to be: "What have you done with Kathie?" That's an easy one.

Executive Managing Editor Kathie Canning, who has been handling this column for awhile, is only a page-turn way. She is unveiling her new column, "Reaction," in which she's applying her chemical-industry knowledge to the role of analyst and commentator. She will discuss with you the industry events of our day ," particularly those that don't always make complete sense. I think you'll enjoy it.

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