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Indiana University Bloomington

Marketing

The Distribution King

James A. (Jim) Steinert Jr. BS'73

Distributor Manager of the Americas, Hexion Specialty Chemicals, Epoxy Resins and Coatings Division

Houston, Texas

“Today there are lots of MBAs around. Internally, when we see somebody’s credentials, we ask ‘Do they have a real MBA or do they just have an MBA?’ My belief is that the Kelley School always continues to be a real MBA.”

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Jim Steinert knows that maintaining clear channels of distribution is crucial, particularly in the specialty chemicals and plastics market.

Steinert, who received a business degree in marketing and advertising from Kelley in 1973, is currently distributor sales manager of the Americas for Hexion Specialty Chemicals.

Since he moved to the division in 1998, the company’s specialty plastics and chemical sales have tripled.

“If we have a year below 15 percent growth, I’m really upset—and that’s significant in today’s business world,” says Steinert. “Our profit margins, what we make off our specialties, is typically much more than we make off our commodities businesses. Right now, we are globally sold out in many of our specialty products … a result of our concentrated efforts in directing our distribution sales reps to concentrate in strategic market areas.”

Hexion Specialty Chemicals is the world’s largest maker of thermosetting epoxy resins, a substance used in aerospace composites, coatings, electronics and adhesives. A separate division at Hexion produces formaldehyde-based resins and raw materials for coatings and inks. The company recently agreed to buy Huntsman, a global manufacturer and marketer of differentiated chemicals, which will double its size to more than 12 billion dollars of revenue per year.

More than 50 percent of Hexion’s specialty sales go through distribution. Steinert directs sales and creates marketing strategies and implementation plans for each specialized market. He also takes feedback from customers and uses it to give them more of what they want, further encouraging their business.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1973, Steinert felt well-prepared for the challenges he faced in the sales and management jobs that led up to his current position.

“I started my career when an MBA was still rather rare—back then at IU, we ran our Entop businesses using Fortran punch cards,” he says.

Now Steinert and his colleagues evaluate job applicants not only on whether they have an MBA, but also on the quality of the university where they earned it.

“Today there are lots of MBAs around,” says Steinert. “Internally, when we see somebody’s credentials, we ask ‘Do they have a real MBA or do they just have an MBA?’ My belief is that the Kelley School always continues to be a real MBA.”

Published April 7, 2011