April 12, 2017

Wauconda, Illinois – The Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) presented awards to three individuals recognizing their outstanding contributions to the Council during the Volunteer Recognition Banquet at the AEC Annual Meeting held in Bonita Springs on March 25, 2017.

Each year, the Aluminum Extruders Council recognizes one or more individuals for their excellent service and achievements as an AEC volunteer. Olivier Gabis, Area Manager for Wagstaff Inc. headquartered in Spokane Valley, Washington, was presented with the Volunteer of the Year Award, one of two such awards presented during the evening. Gabis is a member of the AEC Industry Standards Team and is the Council’s liaison for various standards committees, including the ASTM Subcommittee B07.03 on Aluminum Alloy Wrought Products and ANSI Accredited Standards Committee H35. He is also a longtime volunteer on the ET Seminar Committee which directs the program for the International Aluminum Extrusion Technology Seminars. “Olivier has served as the Chair for the Billet Process Track for at least three iterations of ET. His technical expertise in this capacity is exemplary,” said AEC Chairman Matt McMahon, President of Pries Enterprises in Independence, Iowa.

The second Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Craig Werner, VP Extrusion Technology for Kaiser Aluminum headquartered in Foothills Ranch, California. Werner previously was awarded the AEC Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor from the Council, and the Maurice H. Roberts Award of Excellence, the highest honor awarded at ET. He personally visits local universities helping to raise awareness of our process and products, has developed industry curriculum and is helping to develop the AEC Academy continuing education program. Werner also has prepared and presented numerous technical and business-related presentations for the Aluminum Extruders Council and ET. “He is a teacher, a mentor, an award-winning ET author, and so much more,” noted McMahon.

The Distinguished Service Award, which is presented only to an AEC leader who has shown exceptional dedication and service, was awarded to Rick Merluzzi, President of Metal Exchange Corporation in St. Louis, Missouri. Merluzzi made a meteoric rise to leadership within the Council and has been a mainstay of the industry’s voice for Fair Trade in Washington. His leadership within the Council spanned precisely the period of the most serious challenge and most important victories in both the Council’s and the industry’s history. “He battled for fair trade and won; he battled cancer and won. I am honored to be able to present the Distinguished Service Award to my friend and mentor, Rick Merluzzi,” said McMahon at the Volunteer Recognition Ceremony in March. “His continued dedication and guidance is invaluable.”

After receiving the award, Merluzzi commented: “What an incredible honor, especially when I think of those that have received [this award] in the past for which I have such tremendous respect—people like Tom Schabel of Alexandria Industries, Duncan Crowdis, retired from Bonnell Aluminum, Rand Baldwin, past AEC President, and many more. Having come into the industry a little over a decade ago, I am still a newbie given that many people have been in the industry all of their career or for multiple generations. Consequently, I can’t offer much extrusion knowledge but from my perspective our industry is special. Our products go into many innovative applications that impact our quality of life one way or another. There is a tremendous commitment—not just to the company’s success but truly to the success of the industry. AEC is a great organization that is indispensable to that success. There is a special passion for the industry that I have not seen in other industries and there is a level of camaraderie in AEC that is very unique. I feel blessed that my career journey brought me here.”