2014 Chemical Industry Medal – Sunil Kumar


downloadUntil his retirement in 2011, Sunil Kumar was CEO, President, and Board Member of ISP, a global manufacturer of specialty chemicals (2011 sales were $2.1 billion).  ISP chemicals are used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, food, and other industrial uses.  In 2003, Kumar worked with an investors group to take the company private.  Over his tenure, he made a number of accretive acquisitions and built exports to the point of representing 50 percent of sales and income.  ISP maintained an admirable annual profit growth rate of 11 percent over 10 years and maintained the highest margins in their industry.  Kumar became a leading spokesperson for the specialty chemicals segment and was frequently quoted in trade publications.

Prior to ISP, Kumar was President and CEO of GAF Materials Corporation ($3 nillion in sales), the world’s largest manufacturer of roofing products for residential and commercial buildings.  Before that, he was Executive Vice President of Bridgestone/Firestone, and was responsible for Bridgestone/Firestone’s North American tires and auto services business which is now about $6 billion in annual sales. He had earlier started a business that became Firestone Building Products Company which is now a $1 billion manufacturer of roofing and insulation products.
After his retirement Sunil continues in the chemical industry through ownership of two specialty businesses — Universal Plastics Inc and Nylon Corporation of America. Additionally, he is Senior Advisor to Reliance Industries Limited.


Kumar was a Board Member of the American Chemistry Council from 1999-2011 and President of the Société de Chimie Industrielle from 2008-2010.  He served as Chairman of the Society of Chemical Industry in 2009-2010.  During his time as Chairman of SCI, he was instrumental in starting their SCI Scholars Program, an initiative to encourage college students to pursue careers in industrial chemistry and chemical engineering.


Kumar was selected to be the 2005 Specialty Chemicals CEO of the Year by Frost & Sullivan, a distinguished international industry and market research firm. In 2006, he was given the Distinguished Alumnus Award by his alma mater, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).


A native of New Delhi, India, Kumar holds a Bachelor of Technology in Mechanical Engineering from IIT, and an MBA from the University of Louisiana.