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Biographical entry Grayson, Hugh Alexander (1927 - 2001)




Hugh Alexander Grayson was General Manager of Pigments Manufacturers of Australia Ltd (PMA) and Deputy Managing Director and Technical Manager, then Managing Director and later Chairman, of BAL - the Australian subsidiary of BASF.


Hugh Alexander Grayson joined the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) in 1949 and served on the Victorian Branch Committee in 1971-1976, being President in 1974-75. After being active in national committees, in 1979 he became Vice-President of the RACI and then President in 1980-81. That was a busy year for international visits on behalf of the RACI: Federation of Asian Chemical Societies in Kuala Lumpur and 8th meeting of National Chemical Societies in Belgrade. National Chemistry Week was set in train, being organised for launch in 1982. Outside the RACI, Hugh was prominent in the Society of Chemical Industry of Victoria; 14 years on the Committee, two as President, and he was made a Life member in 1974. He was also active in Productivity Groups.

Hugh was born and educated in Melbourne. He studied chemistry at Melbourne Technical College and graduated with a fellowship diploma in 1946. His first position was investigating chemist in the control laboratory of Monsanto, Footscray, whence he moved to the plant that manufactured chlorine and phenol. After five years with Monsanto, in which time he was associated with development of processes for manufacture of chloromycetin and sulfa drugs, he joined a small pharmaceutical company for two years.

In 1953 Hugh joined Cuming Smith Mt Lyell Farmers Fertilisers and spent the next five years in WA in their Bassendean, Bunbury, Fremantle and Albany plants. Then back to Victoria as Production and Deputy Works Manager at the Commonwealth Fertilisers and Chemicals plant at Yarraville. In 1961 Imperial Chemical industry of Australia and New Zealand (ICIANZ) took over and the plant underwent substantial modernisation, introducing high analysis and NPK fertilisers, a move in which Hugh played a substantial part.

Then came a defining career move to pigments, starting with Factory Manager of the ICIANZ Pigments Plants at Laverton, Victoria. At that time high level discussions began about combining ICIANZ and BASF pigment interests in Australia. Hugh was heavily involved, travelling overseas to BASF Ludwigshafen and ICI Blackley. Eventually Pigments Manufacturers of Australia Ltd (PMA) was formed in 1970, supplying pigments to both of the principals, with Hugh as General Manager. This often delicate and difficult situation, responsible to two traditionally rival internationals, was handled with such fairness, sensitivity, discretion and skill that BASF offered him the Deputy Managing Director and Technical Manager position in the Australian subsidiary, BAL, in April 1980. The Ludwigshafen people through mispronunciation initially called him 'Huge'. He certainly was; not that his physical size was extraordinary, more that his personality could fill the room with infectious exuberance, geniality and forthrightness.

It was a difficult time, but restructuring led to a return to profitability and he became Managing Director in 1981 and Chairman in 1982. In his 10 years in BAL up to his retirement in 1990, Engineering Plastics Division was established, the acquired Fritzsche, Dodge & Olcott flavours and fragrances was incorporated and the Noble Park site acquired for the head office and warehouses. The fact that operations which Hugh managed were always profitable would have helped reinforce their first impressions. Hugh was a people manager who not only encouraged and supported his staff, but also held a genuine interest in them. It was impressive to see him walk through plant, office or board room and address people by name, knowingly enquiring about their families.

Not surprisingly his personal qualities made him very successful as a Rover Scout leader and he received awards for contributions over 20 years. His main relaxation was sailing, being an active (Life) member of the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron and, in later years, the Metung Yacht Club. A great family man, he is survived by Norma and two sons.

By Douglas K. Grant, OAM, MRACI, David Bleazby and Peter R. Wilkinson, FRACI c2002; edited by AUSTEHC


1949 - 1973
Career position - Associate of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute
1967 - 1968
Career position - President of the Society of Chemical Industry of Victoria
Award - Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (FRACI)
Career position - President of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, Victorian branch
1980 - 1981
Career position - President of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute
1985 - 1986
Career position - Chairman of the Australian Chemical Industry Council
1985 - 1989
Career position - Chairman of the Advisory Committee for the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) Division of Chemicals and Polymers

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Annette Alafaci