Cross Country: Alumnus Explores the U.S. from a Bicycle

Glenn_Boutilier_1Glenn Boutilier (’74) is a 60-year-old cyclist with no family history of heart disease. He bikes several times a week and, for 21 years, has taken a seven-day bike vacation of 50 miles a day with his family. So it was rather surprising when in April this year, Boutilier experienced pain in his chest, and through cardiac catheterization, the doctors discovered a 90 percent blockage in the left anterior descending coronary artery. But perhaps more surprising than the blockage is that two weeks after the robotic bypass surgery (the surgeon reroutes the heart arteries without opening the chest), he was back on his bike for a 10-mile ride, and less than six weeks after surgery, he and his wife and two daughters departed on a 4,300-mile bicycle ride from Virginia to Oregon using the TransAmerica cycling route.

“I took up cycling originally for fitness,” Boutilier says. Boutilier met his wife, Donna, and her daughter, Sara, through the Cincinnati Cycle Club group rides. They married and had two daughters, and continued their week-long bicycle tours, such as the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure, with children in tow.

For 21 years they’ve made a bicycle trip a family vacation, and their current trip is the ultimate.

In approximately 70 days, they will ride 4,300 miles. The route was started in 1976 by Adventure Cycling to celebrate America’s bicentennial. “The view of America from a bicycle is a different pace than traveling by car. People are interested in talking to us about our trip and telling us about their towns or farms or local events,” Boutilier says. The family has met many wonderful people and found a shower every night. They are documenting the trip with a blog

For fitness and fun, Boutilier and Donna have been on their bikes from Dayton, OH to Kitty Hawk, NC (for the 100th anniversary of the first flight of the Wright brothers). “It was Donna’s dream to make a complete crossing of the U.S.A. It became my dream also, and somewhere along the line, Emily and Joanna decided to make the trip with us,” he says. Their oldest daughter Sara, who is in school this summer, carried their gear in a minivan for the first six days.

When Boutilier is not on his bicycle, he is in the lab at Procter & Gamble applying the tools and thought processes of analytical chemistry to solve problems such as how to get the tabs on baby diapers to stick better. In fact, Boutilier is one of 16 members of the Victor Mills Society, named after the inventor of disposable diapers. The society recognizes research fellows at Procter & Gamble who have made sustaining and important business-building contributions in their careers. With 21 patents and some cutting-edge polymer chemistry, Boutilier has played a lead role in creating better patterned belts for the papermaking process and developing self-stick plastic wrap for food.

Glenn_Boutilier_2“My favorite project at Procter & Gamble involved the proprietary technology used for paper making belts,” Boutilier says. These belts run at over 30 mph, are subjected to high temperature, high pressure, and high velocity cleaning showers. “A group of dedicated and persistent scientists and engineers were able make this successful. It is the reason today that Charmin, Bounty, and Puffs are able to deliver the combination of softness, strength, and absorbency to consumers,” he says. The long-term business success of this technology is a major reason why Boutilier was inducted into the Victor Mills Society in 2000.

Boutilier is most proud of the Glad Press and Seal product he developed at Procter & Gamble. “This was an anti-adhesion problem. I firmly believed we could solve the technical problems, but I was not sure the product would ever reach consumers because of the business issues at the time,” he says. Ultimately, they overcame the technical challenges and the business challenges (with a joint venture between Procter & Gamble and Clorox) and brought the product to the market.

“This is what I like about problem solving as an industrial analytical chemist. I am able to see products on the store shelves reaching consumers as a result of my contributions to a team of people at Procter & Gamble,” he says.

Because of his career success, Glenn Boutilier will receive the Honor Alumnus Award for the College of Natural Sciences on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 as part of the Distinguished Alumni Awards ceremony.

“Dr. Boutilier truly exemplifies everything the Distinguished Alumni Award represents: accomplishment, leadership, and service. We in the College of Natural Sciences are proud of the high example he sets for all of our current and aspiring scientists… and bicyclists!” – Jan Nerger, Dean of the College of Natural Sciences.

by Beth Etter (’03)

This article is from the Summer 2013 edition of Around the Oval, a magazine published exclusively for members of the Alumni Association. Around the Oval contains stories about alumni and members and is one of the many benefits of membership. Read more stories like Glenn’s by becoming a member.

Why Glenn Boutilier is a member of the Alumni Association

My reason for membership and support of the CSU alumni association is recognition of the key role CSU played in my success as a chemist. The opportunity to do undergraduate research greatly influenced my decision to attend graduate school and pursue a career in R&D. While I have spent my professional career in Ohio, I have never forgotten the wonderful experience I had at CSU in Fort Collins and want to remain connected with CSU and support programs that I believe are important.