Keynote & Plenary Speakers

Keynote Speaker

Remco De JongRemco de Jong

Vice President and General Manager for Refractory Minerals Division, Imerys

Title: Minerals to Materials: The changing face of the global refractory industry

Biography: Joining Imerys Refractory Minerals group in July 2012, Remco was formerly the CEO of Almatis Group (market leader in the specialty alumina niche). With Almatis and previously with Corus Steel and Hoogovens, he held various senior management positions in Asia, Europe and the USA. He was notably involved in the development of new products and markets and in the optimization of processes and supply chains with global customers, both in automotive and portable energy end markets.


Plenary Speaker

Tom Vert

General Manager Primary Manufacturing, ArcelorMittal Dofasco

Title: How Do Steelmakers Pick Refractories – Logic, emotion or dartboard?

Biography: Tom Vert is the General Manager of Primary Manufacturing at ArcelorMittal Dofasco which includes Cokemaking, Ironmaking, Steelmaking, and Material Handling & Logistics, and has held this position since 2010. He graduated from McMaster University in 1987 with a Bachelor of Engineering (Ceramic) and received his MBA in 1994 also from McMaster University. Vert joined ArcelorMittal Dofasco in 1989 and has moved through a number of positions in Steelmaking in both Technology and Operations. He has been chairperson for the Refractory division of both the Canadian and American Ceramic Societies. Vert has served as chairperson of the UNITECR Refractory International Executive Board and is also a distinguished life member of this group.


Plenary Speaker

Charles E. Semler

President/Consultant, Semler Materials Services

Title: Trends for the World’s Most Important, but Least Known Products

Biography: Dr. Semler has worked in the refractories industry for 41 years (since 1971). His refractories career began with Harbison-Walker Refractories Co. (3 yrs.), and then he was a Professor of Ceramic Engineering and Director of the Refractories Research Center at Ohio State University for 12 years (1974-1986). Since then he has worked as an independent refractories consultant for 26 years (since 1986), serving many United States and foreign companies, including travel to 97 countries. He serves on the advisory board for several refractories publications – Interceram and Refractories World Forum in Germany, Technical Association of Refractories, Japan (TARJ), and China’s Refractories. He has written more than 200 papers, has given many lectures and workshops around the world, and holds 4 patents. For his service to the refractories industry, Semler has received the following honors/awards: Fellow of the American Ceramic Society; Distinguished Life Member of UNITECR; Planje – St. Louis Refractories Award; Service Award from Technical Association of Refractories, Japan (TARJ); Elected to the International Academy of Ceramics; and Tredennick Award from The Refractories Institute (USA).