Bill Pitkin – A Remembrance of More than 40 Years in the Insulation Industry

August 1, 2003

For more than 40 years, Bill Pitkin was a presence in the insulation industry, both in sales and marketing positions with a number of manufacturers, and as executive vice president with the National Insulation Association (NIA).

Pitkin, who died June 11 at age 67, left a lasting impression on several long-time colleagues.

"What I most respected about Bill was his enthusiasm for everything he did," said Paul "Stoney" Stonebraker, a former NIA president, current president of TRA Thermatech and current chairman of NIA’s Union Contractor Committee. "I first met him more than 35 years ago when he was district sales manager for Owens Corning and I was newly into management from the field. His incisive questions to draw out information and learn more about different aspects of and approaches to the industry impressed me from the start."

Tom Decker was one of Pitkin’s closest friends. Decker, whose career in the insulation industry spanned 35 years, including service as NIA’s 1985 president and as president of ACandS Contracting (now IREX), said, "Because of Bill’s background with the industry with Owens Corning and CertainTeed, and later with his 19 years as NIA executive vice president, I think he was as well known as anyone in the industry that he served so well for so long."

Current NIA president Vaughan Privett (also president of C.E. Thurston & Sons, Inc.) said, "Bill served the insulation industry all his life and NIA for nearly 20 years. He was a friendly and fair leader, supporting his staff and membership in achieving his industry objectives. Bill will be missed."

Tom Fraatz, president of Pacor, Inc., chairman of NIA’s Web Site Committee and also a former NIA president, said, "I always found Bill to be well liked and respected by those in our industry. I enjoyed working with Bill during my term as NIA president, as he was very helpful to me in seeing that the affairs of the association were carried out in a timely and professional manner."

A native of New York, N.Y., Pitkin graduated from Stanford University (where he played varsity football) and served in the Army reserves. In 1959, he joined the insulation industry with Owens Corning as a salesman at the company’s San Francisco branch. He was later promoted to district sales manager for Owens Corning’s New York district office.

Pitkin joined CertainTeed Corp. in 1971 as marketing manager for industrial commercial insulation products. He was promoted to senior vice president in 1978.

In June 1983, Pitkin joined NICA (now NIA) as executive vice president, a position he would hold until 2002. Pitkin worked to create partnerships and strong relationships with other associations and government organizations, including the Department of Energy (DOE). With DOE, Pitkin served for four years as chairman of its Office of Industrial Technologies (OIT) Steam BestPractices program, helping give the insulation industry a voice and presence in that area.

"Bill Pitkin was the consummate people person," said Christopher Russell, senior program manager for the Alliance to Save Energy. "This was evident in his role as chairman of the BestPractices Steam steering committee. Bill used his executive presence to open doors to program sponsors, collaborators, and patrons. But he was equally adept at working with support staff, mentoring, encouraging and putting a pleasant face on everything we did."

In 2002, Denise Swink, deputy assistant secretary of OIT-DOE, and Fred Hart, program manager for BestPractices Steam, recognized Pitkin’s contributions, noting that "through his thoughtful and skillful leadership, he guided BestPractices Steam from an idea and start-up initiative to become an effective program dedicated to serving industry."

Pitkin was a devoted sailor, and often could be found navigating the waters of the Chesapeake Bay near his home in Annapolis, Md. He was also a devoted husband to his wife of 30 years, Sue, and father to his four children.

Stonebraker summed up his thoughts about his longtime friend by saying, "He always wanted to digest new approaches and find a way of using them to grow both the association and the industry as a whole."