Chemical engineer works to dispense more sustainable concrete to the world

Chris Yanosko of BASF on the right tools for the job and how to get them to customers

Chris Yanosko

By: Leigh Krietsch Boerner, special to C&EN

Chris Yanosko is a family man. When he was a kid, he watched how his father used his career to improve the sustainability of the chemistry supply chain, and he knew he wanted to do something similar. He decided to follow in his older brother’s footsteps and completed a BS in chemical engineering from Case Western Reserve University in 2013. From there, Yanosko branched out on his own and worked a temporary job at Ben Venue labs, a subsidiary of Boehringer Ingelheim for about 3 months before landing at BASF in Beachwood, Ohio. “BASF was a natural fit for me because they are the world leaders in driving innovation and supporting sustainability,” Yanosko says. He’s been with the company about 5½ years, during which he’s gotten two promotions, completed his MBA from Case Western with BASF’s assistance, gotten married, and had a daughter.

Concrete is the name of the game for Yanosko. He’s part of the construction chemical business unit at BASF, which works to make components in concrete more durable, environmentally friendly, and cost effective. As dispenser operations manager, he establishes procedures and specifies dispensing equipment that businesses use to put the needed chemicals into their concrete mixtures. “I not only help specify which specific brands and types and sizes of equipment that we use at BASF, but I also help train our technicians across the US and Canada on how to install and maintain this equipment,” Yanosko says. BASF gives the companies the equipment to use. This means he’s out in the field a lot, talking to customers and helping them on-site. He recently moved to Nashville, Tennessee, for his wife's career and spends part of his time working from home. “BASF was extremely supportive to empower me with working remotely while continuing to address field issues across the US and Canada,” he says.

What problem are you working on now?

We are working on how to best equip our field team with the tools and resources needed to optimize how we support our end customers. We are developing a field service application and more robust dispensing equipment to support this overall goal, and we are training our field team on these processes this year.

What’s your favorite lab tool?

I always found titration extremely interesting, but my favorite tool nowadays is an infrared scanner. We use it to help validate product performance and benchmark anticipated results versus actual solutions.

What’s your favorite lab procedure?

With regards to what we deal with, I really enjoy concrete strength tests to help validate concrete performance and how we can help improve overall characteristics for our customers. When in school, I enjoyed environmental analysis to see the impact that chemistry can have on a community.

You couldn’t get along at work without . . .

The Starbucks machine. When I'm at our corporate headquarters, I really appreciate the coffee machines that the company provides to employees for the extra pick-me-up to go above and beyond.

What’s in your lab coat pocket?

Pens and my phone charger. I'm always ready to take notes and use my phone to help follow up to get things done.

What’s your morning routine like?

Each day is new and exciting for me. I can be on the road traveling or at home in Nashville, working and supporting my family. Still, I typically wake up and prepare for the day by taking my daughter to day care, and then I get right into the thick of things by addressing the business's needs. Having a skill set of utilizing technology like Webex and Skype is extremely beneficial when collaborating across state and country borders.

What’s your favorite movie?

If I had to pick a specific favorite movie, I'd have to go with The Dark Knight, from my love of superhero movies and Batman in general.

What’s your favorite molecule?

Water, hands down. It is polarized and supports life. You can't beat that, especially from how much I drank it while playing football, basketball, and baseball growing up. And to steal a quote from The Waterboy, "Now that's what I call high-quality H2O!"

What are you reading now?

Swim with the Sharks without Being Eaten Alive, by Harvey B. Mackay. Or, if I'm with my daughter, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I see myself continuing to support my family and helping my company/group grow and continue to be the market leaders.

Leigh Krietsch Boerner is a freelance contributor to Chemical & Engineering News, the newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society. This interview was edited for length and clarity.