Greg Wood is a lead testing technician in the Smithers rubber physical testing
laboratory in Akron, Ohio. He has thirty-seven years of experience in the rubber industry.
How did you get into the rubber industry?
I got into the rubber industry back in 1983, the year after I graduated high school. I started out as a molding machine operator. Back in those days, nothing was automated or computerized. I learned a great deal about molding rubber. I transferred to our tool / mold-building shop, where I learned how rubber molds were designed and made. From there, I managed to move into the rubber mixing
department. That is where I found my passion. I learned everything I could about mixing and compounding rubber from our experienced compounders and mixers. I ended up becoming the lead mixing technician for the company, scheduling the materials to be produced, training new technicians, and mixing trial materials for the lab.
At that same company, I was offered a position in the material testing lab in 1995. I was also taking continuing education night classes at the University of Akron to learn about compounding different polymers and testing rubber. I continued to move up the corporate ladder, ending up as the material manager for our division. In that capacity, I was responsible for all things material related: ordering and scheduling material deliveries, scheduling the mixing department, compounding new materials, following mixing trials, and auditing our suppliers.
After spending 27 years at that company, I moved in 2011 to be closer to family and joined the Smithers team. Needless to say, it was the best move I ever made.
What keeps you busy every day?
I am responsible for all physical testing
projects for the Smithers Tire Analysis Reports, our proprietary tire database. That accounts for at least 30% of my time. I also conduct physical testing and special projects for a few specific clients in collaboration with our laboratories in Suzhou, China. While the majority of my work is tire-centric
, I test a variety of other products, such as fabric reinforcements, o-rings
, steel reinforcements, and others. I also do some accelerated weathering testing
, such as salt spray
Best part of the job?
I get to test such a wide variety of products and materials. It’s never the same day twice.
What advice would you give clients to make sure their testing program is as valuable as possible?
Be as detailed as possible about the testing you are asking Smithers to conduct for you. Is the testing just routine, to a certain specification
? Is there an issue you’re trying to research or solve? The more detail you can give us about your goals and expectations and how you plan to use the data, the better. Sometimes we can recommend additional testing or strategies to help you achieve your goals.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
Of course this is an unusual year, but usually, I enjoy attending concerts and water parks with my wife of 35 years, Lisa, and our adult children, Matt and Tori. We are especially fond of old classic rock from the ‘70s and the early ‘80s. I also inherited my father’s passion for old cars, and I can usually be found tinkering with one of them. My father and I built a 1947 Ford Coupe Street Rod together when I was in high school, and Lisa and I have taken it to many car shows. We look forward to the day when we can do it again.