Petrochemical Heritage Award

Without petrochemistry we wouldn’t be missing just gasoline for our cars: we’d be missing such things as nylon, linoleum, and Plexiglas. The Petrochemical Heritage Award was established in 1997 to recognize individuals who made outstanding contributions to this vital field.

The Petrochemical Heritage Award recognizes those whose contributions to public understanding are noteworthy, who have displayed significant entrepreneurship in the petrochemical profession or industry, and who have been active in philanthropic and/or communal affairs. It is presented with the Founders Club each year at the International Petrochemical Conference, held by the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers.

2019 Winners: Albert and James Chao

James Chao, chair of the Westlake Chemical Corporation and the Westlake Chemical Partners LP Board of Directors, and Albert Chao, president, CEO, and a director of Westlake Chemical Corporation and Westlake Chemical Partners LP, received the 23rd annual Petrochemical Heritage Award on March 25, 2019, at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas. The award was presented at the 2019 International Petrochemical Conference hosted by the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM).

Albert Chao and James Chao

Albert Chao and James Chao

Albert Chao and James Chao

In the mid-1980s T. T. Chao and his sons, Albert and James Y. Chao, founded Westlake Chemical Corporation, headquartered in Houston. In 1986 the company started up a low-density polyethylene plant in Sulphur, Louisiana, as Westlake Polymers Corporation. Since then Westlake has grown through greenfield construction and acquisitions listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2004 and on the Fortune 500 in 2018. Focused on the olefins and vinyls sectors, the company operates more than 40 sites in North America, Europe, and Asia, with revenue in 2017 exceeding $8 billion.

James Chao serves as chair of the Westlake Chemical Corporation and the Westlake Chemical Partners LP Board of Directors. He has more than 45 years of global experience in the petrochemicals and downstream industries. He and his brother, Albert, assisted their father in founding not only Westlake but Titan Chemicals Corporation in Malaysia (1998) and Suzhou Huasu Plastics Company in China (1993). James Chao served as Westlake’s president from 1986 to mid-1996 and Titan’s managing director from 1988 to mid-2003. He served as Titan’s chair and director from mid-2003 to the end of 2010, when Titan was divested. He previously held management positions with several international companies. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Society of Chemical Industry. Chao received his BS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from Columbia University.

Albert Chao is president, CEO, and a director of Westlake Chemical Corporation and Westlake Chemical Partners LP. In addition, he is a director of Suzhou Huasu Plastics Company in China. He has been with Westlake Chemical Corporation since its inception in 1986, first as an executive vice president, then as president in mid-1996, and later, beginning in 2004, as president and CEO. His career spans more than 40 years in international business activities in the petrochemical industry, working with a number of domestic and international companies. Chao serves on the Boards of Directors of several organizations, including the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers Association. He received his BA from Brandeis University and MBA from Columbia University.


Previous Winners of the Petrochemical Heritage Award

  • Gary K. Adams (2018)
  • David Weidman (2017)
  • Stephen Pryor (2016)
  • James Gallogly (2015)
  • Frank Popoff (2014)
  • Jim Ratcliffe (2013)
  • Marvin Schlanger (2012)
  • Raj Gupta (2011)
  • Hiromasa Yonekura (2010)
  • Mohamed Al-Mady (2009)
  • Peter Huntsman and Dave Swalm (2008)
  • Dan Duncan (2007)
  • J. Virgil Waggoner (2006)
  • T. T. Chao (2005)
  • William McMinn Jr. (2004)
  • Harold A. Sorgenti (2003)
  • Herbert E. Doan (2002)
  • Jon M. Huntsman (2001)
  • Ralph Landau (2000)
  • John R. Hall (1999)
  • John T. Files (1998)
  • Gordon Cain (1997)

About the Sponsors

The Founders Club was founded in 1981 by a group of petrochemical-industry executives who participated in the establishment of the Petrochemical Committee of the NPRA (now AFPM) and ultimately generated the International Petrochemicals Conference (IPC) as a separate identity within NPRA. The Founders Club today is a select group of individuals with a minimum of 25 years of distinguished service in the petrochemical industry. The club proudly advances the legacy inherited from these original “Founders” as contributing stewards of the petrochemical industry with a respect for the past (legacy), activities for the present (networking), and support for the future (recognition).

American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) is a trade association representing high-tech American manufacturers of virtually the entire U.S. supply of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, other fuels and home heating oil, as well as the petrochemicals used as building blocks for thousands of vital products in daily life.