MCPP: Where are you from?
Bob Gallant: I grew up on a farm in Ohio with my mom and dad, my older brother and my twin brother. Dad was a school teacher and farmed on the side. He was head of the math department in a high school. He went to college in Florida prior to moving to Ohio and said that he “still had sand in his shoes,” which meant he wanted to go back to Florida. I was in 7th grade at the time of the move and went from a class of 20 to 200.
MCPP: Talk about your professional life.
Gallant: In 1957, I hired in at the Dow Louisiana division, which is now called Dow In Louisiana. The operations started there the year before. I was there for ten years and worked in research, then manufacturing, then manufacturing management.
From there, I continued to work for Dow in Houston, Texas. That’s where I got my first experience dealing with the government. I had discovered another company that was scamming the system. I notified the appropriate government agency, and at first the officials there did not want to do anything about it. I had to convince them that it was in their best interests to crack down on people who were not playing by the rules, and they finally agreed.
From Houston, I went back to Louisiana as a general manager. Later, I made my way to Dow’s corporate headquarters in Midland. From Midland, I made one last stop as vice president for Dow’s Texas Operations before returning to Midland as vice president and director of operations for Dow North America. I retired in 1996.
MCPP: Do you have children?
Gallant: Yes, three boys. The oldest is an assistant principal in Shreveport, Louisiana. The middle one is a Dow electrical engineer. The youngest is a mechanical engineer for the oil industry in Houston, Texas. We have grandchildren too and love them dearly.
MCPP: What’s one of the most interesting experiences you’ve had?
Gallant: I would say my interaction with the former governor of Texas, Ann Richards. I spent quite some time in Texas in my professional life and had the opportunity to get to know Ann quite well. I knew she had a job to do, and she knew I had a job to do. We respected each other and found ways to make the economy, environment and government work together. I even helped her write a bill at her request. Being honest and open with each other, we developed a mutual respect.
There were times in my career that I had to teach officials with the environmental protection agency how we manufactured products and showed them how we made sure to be environmentally responsible. They appreciated that. Once we understood each other better, we worked so much better together. I helped them develop a standard of health and quality. I also served on a board for preserving wildlife and land.
One of the highlights of my career was being invited to the Texas Governor’s Mansion by Ann Richards when Queen Elizabeth visited. My late wife was there with me for dinner and we shared a special time.
MCPP: What value do you find in the Mackinac Center?
Gallant: I’m so proud of you. You fight for the freedom of people to live their lives the way they want to. People should not be forced to do things.
Several people in my family have been or currently are educators. It’s a noble profession, and I think the world of teachers. But they should always have a choice if they want to belong to an organization and whether they want to financially support it. It should be their choice. I’m glad the Mackinac Center lets people know they now have a choice.
When I heard about the organization that was skimming dues from hard-working people that were simply taking care of their loved ones in their own homes, I found that despicable. Giving people the choice was the right thing to do.
MCPP: Why have you stayed in Michigan?
Gallant: Midland is an ideal city. It has great schools and activities. My wife received wonderful health care here. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.