Faces of Lubricants: Chris Adair

Jan 31, 2022

Business Development Manager Chris Adair is responsible for identifying and fostering new markets and customers for Ingevity’s Industrial Specialties products. With over 20 years of experience in the chemical industry, Chris pairs his valuable technical expertise with creative commercial insight to bring a variety of products to market. Initially leading the effort to commercialize Ingevity’s line of AltaMer™ thermoset resin systems, as well as using his prior experience in the mineral froth flotation sector to help define the market strategy for Ingevity’s TALON™ mining reagents business, Chris recently shifted his role to help grow the lubricants’ grease additives business. In this new position, he will lead market research and R&D efforts in an effort to bring novel extreme pressure additives and thickeners to this demanding market.

Tell us about your experience before joining Ingevity.

I come from a technical background with degrees in biochemistry and chemistry. I kicked off my career at Dow Chemical from summer internships to full-time employment where I worked on cancer diagnostics and therapeutics based on lanthanide chelates. After six years as a bench chemist, I transitioned to the innovation and product development world by joining Celanese’s Acetyl Intermediates as a product innovation manager. Over the years, I’ve held a number of related roles in technology licensing, consulting, and as the North American business manager for Clariant’s Mining division.

What’s your go-to productivity trick?

For key activities, especially during very busy times, I’ve found specifically blocking off time on my calendar to address a particular topic to be helpful. It ensures it’s not forgotten and allocates the time necessary to complete it. This also includes a block of time to go to the gym, as the benefits from exercise are endless.

What behavior or personality trait do you most attribute your success to, and why?

I’d point to two main factors that have helped me become successful. First, never stop collecting “dots”.  Meaning that you should foster your curiosity and never stop learning. The interconnectivity of things ultimately allows you to “connect the dots” which facilitates innovation and a refreshing of the mind. Second, work with a servant’s heart. When you set your mind to delight your customers, internally and externally, you gain a significant amount peace in knowing that you’ve given freely of your time, talent, treasure and influence to help others, regardless of the outcome.

What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re really proud of?

I’m most proud of the work we’ve done with the initial aim of developing new markets and applications for rosin, which is nebulous at best, and how it’s evolved into the exciting AltaMer thermoset resin technologies for epoxies, vinyl esters and polyols.

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

Excitement to see what the day will bring because every day is a gift. What challenge will I have to overcome? What will I learn? What activity do I have to ensure gets accomplished? What exciting package will Amazon deliver?

What’s the best advice you were ever given?

“Do what you say you’re going to do.” My dad gave me this at a very young age, when I left a light on in my bedroom, when I said I would turn it off and didn’t. So simple, but great lifelong advice. My ‘yes’ means ‘yes’ and my ‘no’ means ‘no’, and if you don’t know the answer then check your ego and say, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”

What natural talent would you like to have?

I wish I was more artistically creative, whether that was through drawing or making music. I’m amazed when someone sits down at a piano and plays a complex piece, which on paper looks like chaos, but when played with talent creates something beautiful. It’s almost super-natural.

What is your favorite thing about working at Ingevity?

I’ve worked at several companies and what stands out the most at Ingevity is its culture. The ease with which we communicate, the desire to win and lose as a team (regardless of position in the company) and the limited silo-ing of personnel and capability is truly unique. I’ve only come to appreciate this having worked elsewhere, and Ingevity is the first company that I’ve been able to say the grass isn’t greener on the other side.

What would we most likely find you doing on the weekend? 

I train CrossFit and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, so you might see me getting a double workout on Saturday. On Sunday, I’m either at church and having a family day with my wife and two daughters or serving at our church as a team leader for our security team. If we can get a BBQ/hangout with friends, also, even better!

What’s the top destination on your must-visit list or your favorite place you’ve ever traveled?

I’ve travelled significantly throughout my career and have enjoyed all the places I’ve visited all over the world. I think the top of my list would be Japan. While I’ve visited Tokyo for 24 hours on a layover to Beijing, I know there is so much more to see and do there and hope to do that soon.

Describe yourself in three words.

Intelligent, tenacious and in-progress.

Among your friends or family, what are you famous for?

“Ask Chris, he will know. He’s the human Google search.”  -Actual quote

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I have more hobbies than most people, and they’re always evolving. A few of my latest include: video games, growing gourmet mushrooms, 3D printing, flying drones, modular synthesis, programming microcontrollers, CrossFit, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, shooting, smoking meat and mining crypto-currency.

What is your favorite song you can perpetually play on repeat?

There is too much great music out there to focus on one. I’m thankful for Pandora introducing me to new artists based on genres I like. I won’t tell you which genres because then you’ll really think I’m weird.

What is your strangest irrational fear?

“I must not fear, fear is the mind-killer….” If you know, you know.