Hall of Distinction Class of 1996-1997

Edward A. Schmitt, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Georgia Gulf Corporation, is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and a 1964 graduate of Istrouma High School. He attended Louisiana State University and received a B.S. degree in chemical engineering in 1969.

After graduation, Schmitt and his wife, Karen Wax of Denham Springs, moved to Bauxite, Arkansas where he began his career as a process engineer with ALCOA. For three years his responsibilities centered around trouble shooting and improving alumina chemical processes.

In 1972 Schmitt joined Allied Chemical Corporation in Baton Rouge as a process engineer. He quickly moved into leadership positions when he was promoted to technical supervisor in the company’s electrochemical group. Three years later, Schmitt was relocated to Allied’s agricultural chemicals division in Geismar, Louisiana. He was then promoted to maintenance superintendent at the Geismar location.

In 1980, Schmitt’s most significant career move occurred when he became a start-up engineer and production superintendent for Georgia Pacific’s Vinyl Chloride Monomer facility, located at the company’s manufacturing complex in Plaquemine, Louisiana. His responsibilities included overseeing the actual start-up of the newly constructed facility. Soon after the completion of the project, Schmitt became the production manager of that facility and held the position until 1985.

A leverage buy-out of Georgia Pacific’s chemicals division occurred in 1985, which formed a new company called Georgia Gulf Corporation. In 1986, Georgia Gulf Corporation became a publicly held company.

Schmitt was promoted to manufacturing manager of the Plaquemine Complex in October of 1985 and served in this capacity for four years. During this time, his responsibilities included overseeing all chemical manufacturing and shipping. He then moved into the position of plant manager where his responsibilities grew to include human resources, maintenance, purchasing, accounting and environmental management.

The promotion of Schmitt to general manger of the Plaquemine Complex came in May of 1989, which became the springboard to greater responsibilities over the next few years. Schmitt stayed in Plaquemine and was promoted to general manager, chemical operations in March of 1992. His duties included the company’s Pasadena, Texas manufacturing complex, which is home to the world’s largest cumene manufacturing facilities.

The company announced in March of 1993 that Schmitt would be elected by the Board of directors as vice president of operation, commodity chemicals. Schmitt held this position for four years before being promoted to the newly created position of executive operating officer in March of this year. The promotion prompted the relocation of Schmitt and his wife to Atlanta, Georgia, where they reside today. Schmitt provides the day-to-day leadership in coordinating the company’s sales, manufacturing, raw material purchasing and business development efforts.

Schmitt has been an active participant in trade organizations and non-profit organizations and has served or is serving in a number of various leadership roles. In addition to serving on the LSU College of Engineering Dean’s Advisory Council, he is past chairman and current board member of Boy’s Hope of Baton Rouge, past Board of Directors and chairman of Governmental Affairs Committee for the Louisiana Chemical Association, past chairman for the Louisiana Chemical Association political action committee (LAMP), past chairman of the Louisiana Chlorine Task Force, an official correspondent for the Chlorine Institute, past member of the Board of Directors of Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), trustee for the Public Affairs Research Council, past board member of the LSU Junior Division Advisory Board, member of the Louisiana Chemical Industry Alliance, Knights of Columbus and is also a member of the Baton Rouge Country Club.

Schmitt’s wife, Karen, is a 1968 graduate of LSU in education and later earned an M.S.Ed. at LSU. They have two daughters, Laura Lea and Mary Elizabeth, who will each receive Masters of Education in 1997 from LSU.