John Fee’s Legacy

The John Fee Outstanding Performance Award is presented annually to Polywater representatives and/or agencies for their exemplary work in generating specifications, focusing on project sales, and successfully communicating the Polywater message to its customer base.

In addition to these factors, Polywater recognizes the value of having a specific market focus and offering product differentiation to avoid being perceived as a commodity.

Another important aspect is highlighting the differences in product performance that can lead to specification while also sharing technical expertise covering the product and its use.

Finally, effective product positioning that is meaningful to specifiers and/or users is considered essential to be eligible for the John Fee Outstanding Performance Award.

John Fee’s Story
John M. Fee grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with his brothers and father, committing himself early to a life-long pursuit of excellence. He received a full scholarship to the acclaimed MIT, earning a degree in chemical engineering. After graduation, he worked for 3M Company, honing his skills in product development and marketing. There he met Nels Jonnes, who later founded Polywater. In 1981, Nels convinced John to leave his promising 3M career and join the fledgling lubricant manufacturer. John quickly became president and part owner of Polywater, and his immediate impact sent sales soaring for years on end. One of his many initiatives was the company’s entry into the heavy industrial market to supplement its strong position in the electrical utility and telecommunication markets.

The side profile of a young man with brown hair wearing a blue collared shirt.Knowing he’d need to differentiate Polywater’s cable pulling lubricants, John led a massive laboratory effort that resulted in patented, high-performance products with compelling competitive advantages. With strategic market planning, John then focused the company’s science-based efforts on the nuclear power plant construction boom. He personally led an employee taskforce that ultimately earned Polywater specification for every nuclear plant being built. Polywater quickly became the state-of-the-art, go-to product for all credible engineering firms and massive design-build contractors. John’s specifications focus also developed excellent relationships with cable manufacturers, who are likewise interested in compatible lubricants that consistently reduce cable damage during installation. These relationships continue today.

A smiling elderly man makes a younger man in the foreground laugh.In addition to the spec program and his involvement in various trade associations, one of John’s biggest industry contributions was the Pull-Planner™ Software. The program revolutionized the calculation of cable tensions, sidewall pressure, jam ratio, coefficient of friction, and more. The Pull-Planner™ has thousands of users and has made countless calculations, helping companies install cables with confidence worldwide. It is through John’s many contributions that Polywater grew to the respected company it is today. Nearly 40 years later, a product John Fee formulated and patented is still a top 3 seller, proof of his leadership and commitment to the scientific method, product differentiation, niche marketing, and a robust specifications program. Polywater continues to apply John’s specification program strategy to most products in all global markets. Specifications protect our brand, prevent price erosion, and produce repeat sales.