PPG Industries, Inc.
Vice President of Automotive Coatings (Retired)
CLASS OF 1973
Arriving at Washington & Jefferson College for the first time as a freshman in 1969, Dennis Kovalsky was struck by a strange sense of awakening. "I was sheltered in my Western Pennsylvania upbringing. But at W&J, I met people from across the country," he recalls. "People were different and styles were changing. It was the first time I had seen guys with long hair!"
Once he was past his culture shock, Kovalsky found his footing at W&J as a double major in biology and chemistry. Though he spent most of his time in laboratories, Kovalsky is quick to point out that the science faculty at W&J taught him other essential skills as well. "Dr. Homer Porter taught me more about writing a correct sentence than any other person in my life," he says. "I still feel hi influence when I write."
Immediately following his graduation in 1973, Kovalsky began working at Koppers, a leading integrated producer of chemicals, carbon compounds, and treated wood products. Four years later, he joined PPG, where he would remain for the rest of his career. During his 32 years with the internationally recognized paint and coatings company, Kovalsky lived and worked across North America, Europe, and Asia. Expanding his language skills, he learned German during his two years as a plant manager at a PPG factory in Germany, and later picked up some Japanese. Of all his positions at PPG, Kovalsky counts his time as vice president of automotive original equipment manufacturer coatings as his most rewarding. "To run the automotive business was an honor because it is the largest business at PPG," he says.
Despite his love for his work and commitment to PPG, Kovalsky made the difficult decision to retire in 2008. Though he continues to contribute to the company in any way possible, Kovalsky is eager to pursue challenging new business opportunities. Reflecting on a career that gave him the opportunity to grow and develop into a successful leader within his company, he advises students, "Be open and honest, patient and persistent in all of your endeavors."