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Andrew Schunk, reporter with Rubber News, an industry trade publication that is owned by Detroit-based Crain Communications. I cover the rubber industry, and specifically the non-tire rubber space—seals and gaskets, hoses and hydraulics, motion control components, medical applications, feedstock materials like carbon black and other functional additives, silicone rubber, synthetic rubber, natural rubber, oil and gas and mining, among other industries. Rubber News began as Rubber & Plastics News in August 1971.
Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar right now?
Certainly, supply line nightmares continue to wreak havoc across the board, at every level, and the loose labor market (employee-friendly) is not helping manufacturers, especially on the warehouse floor, but really everywhere. Pricing volatility for raw materials remains a problem (isoprene, nitrile rubber, chloroprene rubber, butyl, etc.) And the war in Ukraine is compounding everything, especially as it relates to the supply of oil, natural gas and carbon black from Russia (as they relate to European needs; the U.S. is not so much affected in this feedstock regard by the war).
Describe the craziest or must fun story you have written.
Covering the rally by Goodyear workers in Akron, where Goodyear’s headquarters are located, after Trump urged people to boycott Goodyear tires. Trump’s tweet was in response to Goodyear (corporate) sending out a missive urging workers not to wear political attire in the workplace. There were a number of signs at the rally pointing out that the presidential vehicle (the Beast) runs on Goodyear tires.
What story or stories are you most proud of?
One story that garnered major industry attention was on the shortage of silicon metal refinement that takes place in North America. China has a monopoly on this upstream production, and, as one industry expert put it, “we are one China Sea incident away from a big problem.” Refined silicon metal is used in alloys, especially aluminum; silicone rubber and adhesives; and solar arrays and microchips.
What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story, and why?
We look at the newsworthiness of anything–a safety incident at a chemical plant, a consent decree from the U.S. EPA against a company (and the company’s response), new technology, sustainability, game-changers, mergers and acquisitions, company features, industry trends, localization of global trends, among many other driving forces in determining a story.
How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?
I have been in journalism for 22 years, starting first as a reporter in general news, then as an editor for 15 years in general news, then back to reporter once again. I have a background in English literature, so I always enjoyed the writing and reporting more than overall management, though I did enjoy that time as well.
Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am…
If I am not reporting, I am flying, running or attending an air show.
What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?
Have a good angle. Obviously, there are ready-made angles like breaking news items, mergers & acquisitions, union strikes and labor agreements reached, game-changing tech, expansions, new CEOs, etc. But keep in mind that we are always looking for people to speak on industry trends and what they are seeing — they are the ones closest to the action. Getting a company’s name out there can happen through direct company news or via astute comments on industry trends.
Ay pet peeves with PR people?
When they pitch a story and then backtrack, by either the company’s order or not having their ducks in a row and a long delay occurs before the source can be tracked down.
Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, etc.)
I grew up in Tallmadge, Ohio, and my wife and I live in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, now. My wife is a private pilot and I am pursuing my private pilot’s certificate as a student pilot currently, so we enjoy our “$100 hamburger trips.” I also am an avid runner and enjoy anything written by Jon Meacham.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our audience?
Journalism is important and there is excellent work being done on all fronts, from the small-town newspapers to the network level to the trade publications to the embedded reporters bringing us news from the Ukraine.
You can follow Andrew on Twitter at: @aschunkRPN
Check out some of Andrew’s recent articles: