R&D Chief Rick Shook Retires from Pilot Chemical

Published June 28, 2018

Rick Shook is retiring from Pilot Chemical Company today after nearly 40 years, most recently serving as vice president of research and development.

Rick spent his entire career in R&D, joining Pilot’s Santa Fe Springs facility in California as a chemist in December 1978 and serving in roles over the years that included lab supervisor, lab manager, corporate technical manager and director of research. In his role as vice president of R&D, Rick was responsible for technology and innovation activities, including new products and new process developments.

What all his roles at Pilot had in common – they challenged him and pushed him to innovate. 

“When I started at Pilot, I was 25 years old with a brand new master’s degree and a pregnant wife,” Rick said. “I was thrilled just to have a research job. I never dreamed it would last me 40 years, but the job has been continuously challenging and renewing, with something new always coming down the pike.”

Two of the most satisfying projects: Early in his career, Rick helped develop Pilot’s Aristonate products, oil-soluble sulfonates used in the manufacture of metalworking fluids, which have wide usage in industries including automotive. He also played a key role in Pilot’s Calfax line of disulfonate products, which are used extensively in the manufacture of latex for paint, pressure-sensitive adhesives and more. Pilot is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of both oil-soluble sulfonates and disulfonate products.

Rick holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Pepperdine University and a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Rick will stay involved with Pilot as a consultant, but his retirement plans also include a new adventure. He and his wife, Cathy, sold their house and purchased an RV, in which they plan to “amble around the country with no schedules.”