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Keynote Speaker Lineup - 2018


2018 Keynote Speakers - TBA


2017 Keynote Speakers

Keynote Speakers Announced for 2017 SPE®AutoTPO Conference  

The 19th Annual SPE® TPO Automotive Engineered Polyolefins Conference, the world’s leading automotive engineeredpolyolefins forum, returns to the Troy Marriott in the Detroit suburbs from October 1-4, 2017. The theme of this year’s 2017 technical conference and exhibition is “TPO’s Leading Lightweighting,” and will showcase talks by keynote speakers from Toyota, Braskem, LMC, The Dow Chemical Company, and the Plastics Industry Association. 

This year the conference continues its tradition of offering in-depth technical sessions covering ten different topic areas, including lightweighting of parts, additives and modifiers, surface enhancements, and bio-based/recycled materials. These sessions reflect the innovations happening in the polyolefin industry, both in the Detroit region and around the world.

Each day, keynote speakers set the stage for the technical sessions.  On Monday, October 2, after brief remarks by conference co-chairs, the event begins with a keynote entitled Managing Through the Automotive Revolution by Jeff Makarewicz, the Group vice-president of Vehicle, Quality, & Safety Engineering at the Toyota Technical Center, will kickoff the conference by discussing the future of the industry within the context of the past. "While the automotive industry is showing record sales and profits, strong headwinds are on the horizon, and the lessons of the past cannot be forgotten. Capacity, compliance, and competitiveness are weighing heavily on the minds of all companies.” In his keynote, Makarewicz will provide insight into some of the challenges facing automakers and the impact and opportunities for the TPO industry. 

Following Jeff Makarewicz on Monday, October 2, Jeff Schuster, the Senior Vice President of Forecasting at LMC Automotive, will offer a keynote entitled The State of the Auto Industry: Upcoming Trends and Innovations. Schuster suggests that, “the auto industry is arguably in the most transitional period since the invention of the vehicle. Auto sales are trending flat, regulations have been impacting vehicle development and what we drive but may be changing, and technology is defining and altering the future of the industry.” Learn where the global industry volume is headed in the future, the overall competitive outlook for vehicle segments, the shifts in North American production and sourcing, and the impact of regulations and technology on the industry. 

Day Two, October 3, will begin with a keynote address by Dirk Zinkweg, the Associate Marketing Director for Transportation within Dow’s Elastomers, Electrical & Telecommunications (EE&T) business. At The Dow Chemical Company, Zinkweg leads global marketing for Dow’s ENGAGE polyolefin elastomers in impact modified polypropylene for automotive TPO.  In his talk, Polyolefin Elastomer Impact Modifiers for Polypropylene, Future Trends and Predictions, Zinkweg will cover industry trends forecasted through 2025, focusing on material supply, market trends, and regulatory issues for elastomeric impact modifiers. Zinkweg will focus on how innovation will shape the future of the industry. “Raw material suppliers into the TPO market need to provide innovative products, technology, and services to meet the needs of OEM’s, molders, and compounders alike to accelerate innovation and push the boundaries of performance, aesthetics, and fuel economy.”

The second keynote address on Tuesday, October 3 will feature a keynote entitled State of the Polypropylene Industry – Supply and Technology by Darrell Williams, Director of Sales, Technical Service and Business Development at Braskem. Williams notes that while the growth in the North America polypropylene market is currently being fueled by the material’s performance, ease of processing and cost competitiveness, “future growth will be sustained by the development of innovative products that meet new performance demands related to sustainability and enhanced physical properties.”  At the TPO Conference, Williams will stress the importance of “navigating a market that requires growing the polypropylene supply chain while delivering on the technical demands of an increasingly sophisticated OEM base."

On Wednesday, October 4, Pattricia Davitt Long, Senior Vice President - Industry Affairs for the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), will wrap up the conference with a keynote that will provide an overview of PLASTICS. She will share the association’s rebrand and mission, as well as plastics industry economic updates and outlook. She will also discuss the new technology to be unveiled at NPE2018, the upcoming triennial trade show, scheduled for May 2018 in Orlando, Florida.





2016 Keynote Speaker Lineup - Industry Leaders Share their Vision for the Future

The SPE® TPO Automotive Engineered Polyolefins Conference features keynote addresses from five leaders in the TPO industry - representing General Motors Co., A. Schulman, Magna, Advanced Composites, and Harbour Results, Inc.

(Click on names for speaker bios)


Monday, October 3

Conference Kickoff: A perspective on how TPO is helping the automotive industry meet today’s challenges

Betsy Jackson -  Director, Exterior trim, GMNA and the Global Technical Leader for Wipers, Glass, Sunroofs, and Trim

"The global Automotive Industry continues to evolve rapidly.  The industry itself is experiencing remarkable alterations in future customer usage and requirements.  In the future, OEMs need TPO innovation from all sectors of our plastics industry – material suppliers, parts suppliers, painters, texture houses, etc. I will touch on GM’s perspective of the immediate challenges we are facing and then discuss some of the successful processes we developed for incorporating innovative TPO ideas in our current product offerings." 




A Compounder’s Perspective: Market Growth, Customer Satisfaction, New Applications/Technology and the Dreaded Raw Material Issues    

Rob Morgan -  Senior Vice President of Advanced Composites North America

Having spent 27 years in the plastic automotive industry, with the last 21 years at Advanced Composites NA, Rob Morgan appreciates how change impacts the industry. “There is a constant balancing act to provide customers with the right product for their needs, especially with the rapid changes in technology,” 





Tuesday, October 4

TPO – Past, Present and Future:  Focus on expanding the use of these materials, considering “Car of the Future and globalization megatrends.”

Tom Pilette - Global Vice President of Product and Process Development, Magna Exteriors

“Today, more than ever, consumers are aware of the rapid innovations in automotive technologies. It is important to keep up with these changes, and continuously look for new TPO applications.”    





Wednesday, October 5

Laurie Harbour - President and CEO of Harbour Results Inc

Laurie Harbour will share an in-depth look at the current and future state of the automotive manufacturing industry, including key market trends that are driving complexity into the entire supply chain. Additionally, she will share research findings and insights on plastics industry best practices.  Harbour notes that, “the manufacturing industry is changing at a rapid pace, and it is important to view these changes comprehensively, understanding how each piece of the puzzle fits together, to better prepare for the future.”