Call him a plastics man, and Ron Pierce smiles with pride and accomplishment.
Pierce, of Mountain Home, was in research and development in the first days of industrial uses of plastics, years before he began a successful business building bass boats.
Pierce, 71, is the newest member of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, appointed to a seven-year term by Gov. Mike Huckabee. On the commission, he will replace Mike Freeze of Keo, who was chairman the past year and whose term ended June 30.
Along with his scientific and manufacturing background, Pierce brings to the commission years of experience in public office. He was mayor of Mountain Home for 10 years, 1976 to 1986. He's been on the city's Airport Commission also. He was a member of the board of directors of Bass Research Foundation for a number of years. And he's been a frequent competitor in national bass tournaments, mostly on the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) circuit.
All this has taken place after Pierce passed up a baseball career.
"I played a lot of baseball (in younger years). I might have been a pro. Who knows how far I might have gone?" he said.
His baseball days were in high school at Nowata, Okla., and in college in Coffeyville, Kan., and in Oklahoma. But after studying at Oklahoma State University, Pierce went to work for Phillips Petroleum Co. in Bartlesville, Okla., as a lab technician. Plastic pipelines were an early project, and he eventually worked up to production superintendent with Phillips.
His knowledge of plastics and development of that booming field brought him to a position with Baxter Laboratories in Mountain Home. After several years, he joined his wife in operating a restaurant and laid the groundwork for a boat building venture, using that plastics background.
"I'm a plastics engineer," Pierce said, "but I don't have a degree. Those years with Phillips really gave me a background. Something that we take a lot of pride in at BassCat is winning the J.D. Power Award two years in a row." The award was given for "highest customer satisfaction in bass boats."
BassCat Boats started in 1971, just behind another fledgling operation a few miles down the road -- Ranger Boats. And Pierce comes on to the Game and Fish Commission a year after Ranger developer Forrest L. Wood ended his seven-year term.
Pierce and his wife Jan have three children, a son and two daughters, and eight grandchildren.