Polymer Chemist

Bernard "Bronco" Gordon III

He’s been called "Bronco" ever since he was 2 years old, when his mother dressed him in a cowboy outfit and his sister claimed he looked like TV’s Bronco Lane. But as president of his own specialty polymer company, Polymer Chemistry Innovations, Inc., "Maverick" may have been more accurate. "In every field," he says jovially, "there will always be people who go out on their own."

Often referred to as "the fishing line scientist," Bronco is the chemist who first developed hydro-degradable plastic. "The fishing line was the early thing that started the company," he explains. "But today, we manufacture a water-soluble polymer and do custom synthesis of polymers for other companies." His water-soluble product is used in adhesives, films, electronic applications, personal care products, and more.

The 48-year-old chemist was also a Pennsylvania State University faculty member for 14 years. "But in 1994, the company grew to a size where I had to make a choice. It was a huge dilemma," he admits, "choosing between being a tenured faculty member or the president of my own company."

Like many success stories predicated on risk, Bronco’s had humble beginnings. "We started the company with a research grant, bought some equipment, and made hundreds of pounds of material to make the fishing line." Married and the father of two, Bronco began his company in the proverbial start-up garage. "It’s wasn’t even my garage," he laughs. "We rented it!"

"I was told I picked the wrong profession. Because you can never go out on your own."