Ahead of his upcoming retirement, Jerry Perkins vacationed in Antarctica, being the first Henkel employee to take the company and its flagship LOCTITE® brand to the continent. Prior to retiring, Perkins served as President of Henkel of North America; Regional Head of Adhesive Technologies Americas, and Global Head of the General Industry business.
Perkins’ travels have supported his natural curiosity about the way things are made as he has travelled around the globe working to support manufacturers producing everything from smart phones to airplanes.
After announcing his intention to retire, the self-proclaimed adventure seeker thought about how he would spend his upcoming free time. He decided to plan a trip to the one continent he had not yet been to – Antarctica. However, as he began researching options for a post-retirement expedition, some timing changes arose, which resulted in Perkins scheduling his trip earlier – as a vacation while he would still be employed. And he saw that as an opportunity to do what he loves – promote LOCTITE® adhesives and sealants, the flagship brand within Henkel’s Adhesive Technologies business. Then, true to his own nature, he amped his plan into a bigger ambition: to provide hands-on LOCTITE brand training for the mechanics on board the Ocean Adventurer, the 300-foot ice-breaking vessel on which he would be traveling.
After announcing his goal to colleagues, they rallied to support him. Perkins shares his excitement in this interview:
How did you prepare for the trip?
“Once I told my team, I was really focused on making sure the training could happen. I was excited about the trip, but more anxious about setting my own high expectations to train the crew. The expedition company had never received such a request before. As part of the Antarctic Treaty, there are many regulations in place to protect the continent, the largest and last remaining natural wilderness on planet earth, so a request to bring adhesive products aboard the ship was quite unusual. My team ensured I was well trained and had a good supply of mini product packages and literature, all contained within a two-pound fanny pack so I would not exceed the 30-pound total weight limitation. It was quite a challenge to make sure I had all the personal gear I needed, as well as my LOCTITE materials.”
What surprised you the most about the expedition?
“The absolute beauty of the environment was magnificent, but I was most surprised by the icebergs, their iridescent blue glow, constant effervescent bubbling, and sheer magnitude of their size. I had some amazing experiences – hiking, kayaking, cruising around icebergs on a zodiac boat and even a polar plunge. The wildlife was also magnificent – from hump back whales breaking through the water near us to seals, birds and thousands of penguins.”
What were your most memorable moments?
“There were many, but to be honest, I was very happy that I was able to provide the LOCTITE training early on in the journey because it was a personal goal I really wanted to achieve. What made it more rewarding was the excitement of the engineers – and they were already using LOCTITE products aboard the vessel! Word also spread on the ship, and I had several sessions with other passengers, many of whom knew Henkel and LOCTITE, including a commercial farmer from Australia, a geologist from South American mines, and engineers from two of our global General Industry customers.
“After completing the training, I really relaxed and enjoyed many memorable experiences. Those that stand out include visiting the Ukrainian-operated Vernadsky Research Station. This was an amazing accomplishment because the scientists stationed there had no human contact for 10 months, and our vessel had to break through about 15 miles of ice to reach the Base. They were ecstatic to see us and offered us homemade pineapple vodka as part of the celebration.“
“I was also given an opportunity to serve as Captain of the vessel. It was thrilling to navigate around icebergs using a toggle to control the dual rudders at the back of the vessel to steer the ship. As Captain, I navigated alongside an iceberg named “A57,” one of the 46 largest icebergs in the world, named and tracked by the US Navy because they are so large they can impact shipping lanes. We were parallel with A57, which was about 20 stories high, for more than three hours because it is more than 15 miles in length.”
Anything else you would like to share?
“This trip morphed from an initial ‘check-the-box’ visit to Antarctica into achieving a rewarding personal challenge. Beyond appreciating the whole experience, the best part of the adventure was the people. As with any adventure or journey in life, it is the people you share it with who make it interesting. There were about 100 passengers aboard the vessel, many adventure seekers like myself, and we shared many stories and learned a lot from each other. I was inspired by many of them and filled many pages in my journal with their recommendations for future travels.”
Hiking in Antarctica during January, the peak of the continent’s summer, provided 24 hours of daylight and average temperatures of 25 degrees Fahrenheit.