Dan Korte is global vice-president for PPG Industries’ aerospace business, where he helps develop strategy at the paints, coatings and parts supplier and has responsibility for driving its performance
What sparked your initial interest in the aviation industry?
I’ve been fascinated by the magic of flight since early childhood, and one of the most important things my parents gave me was the freedom for my curiosity to thrive. I had a deep desire to understand how things worked. I went from taking apart my mother’s new vacuum cleaner and dismantling the dashboard of my dad’s truck, to designing semiconductors and aircraft. I guess I was always destined to be an engineer.
What was your career progression and highlights?
For more than 30 years, I’ve had the good fortune to work for companies in the aerospace industry that have contributed to programmes of national and global significance. I’m an engineer by training, and began my career as a member of Boeing’s design and test team in St Louis, Missouri. In my time at Boeing, I held various management positions for programmes such as the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and V-22 Osprey, was promoted to vice-president of supplier management and finally to vice-president and general manager of global strike systems. In 2009, I joined Rolls-Royce in London as president of the company’s defence business and was a member of the group executive committee during my four-year tenure. Before joining PPG in 2018, I served as chief executive and a member of the board of directors for engineering company LMI Aerospace. Throughout my career, I’ve had opportunities to build professional relationships across the globe, as well as help develop the future leaders of aviation.
What is PPG and what is your role within the company?
At PPG, we develop and deliver the paints, coatings and speciality materials for our customers in the construction, consumer products, industrial and transport markets. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, we operate in more than 70 countries and reported net sales of $15.4 billion in 2018. I’m the global vice-president of PPG’s aerospace business. Based in Sylmar, California, we offer coatings, sealants, transparencies, packaging and application systems, and transparent armour, as well as chemical management and other services.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Aviation has a unique ability to bring people, cultures and ideas together – making this big world a smaller, more connected place. I learned early on that you can be the best employee in the world, but if you don’t give back to your community or take the time to mentor and encourage others, you will not be as fulfilled as you could be. At PPG, I feel grateful to have the opportunity to help build future leaders, as well as participate in projects that directly give back to the communities where our employees live and work. Through PPG’s colourful communities programme – the company’s signature initiative for supporting communities – we partnered with our customer, Boeing, to revitalise the Saturn V rocket replica displayed at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. From a tactical perspective, setting the overall strategy for PPG’s aerospace business and driving operational performance are two of the responsibilities that I enjoy the most.
How do see the company evolving?
PPG is continuing to develop new products and technologies, as well as using resources efficiently to drive sustainability throughout its entire value chain to protect the environment. Recent examples of this include a pre-treatment technology free of hexavalent chromium that improves coating adhesion and corrosion protection on aircraft, as well as a breakthrough technology for aircraft windows that significantly blocks harmful ultraviolet radiation and high-energy visible light. We also foresee even stronger customer relationships, especially in the design and development stages of our products and technologies. n