The Plastics Pioneers Association (PPA; McHenry, IL) inducted eight new members, sponsored by existing members, during its annual meeting on April 10 to 13 in Santa Fe, NM. The association’s stated mission is to build on the plastics industry legacy to advance its future success by providing student scholarships, sponsoring educational programs and supporting the plastics history museum at Syracuse University. Here are the eight new inductees who will help the PPA to fulfill this mission.
Mike Friend. After graduating from Arizona State University in 1978 with a degree in mechanical engineering, Friend worked for Tempe, AZ, custom molder Pixley, where he spent his first 10 years in the industry. In 1988 he left Pixley and joined Top-Seal Corp., a Tech Group company and proprietary molder of caps and closures, as manufacturing manager.
In 1990 he founded UPT Plastics, a greenfield startup beginning as a tool shop that later transformed into a molding company. Friend and his team grew the company to $12 million in sales by the end of 1999. It was acquired in June 2000 by ATP. Friend stayed on for nearly three years spearheading the transition and leading the company as President/General Manager.
After a brief retirement, he founded Integrity Mold in 2005 and grew this company to $10 million in sales. It was acquired in October 2017 by Westfall Technik. Friend is currently Vice President and General Manager of this business.
Wayne Hertlein. Currently Tooling Manager at Letica Corp. (Rochester, MI), Hertlein has more than 40 years of experience in molds and tooling for the automotive, telecommunications, military and medical fields. This includes prototype and production tools for close-tolerance, high-precision molds and product development. He has worked for a number of plastics processing companies, from Wilbert, MMI and IAC to Plastech, rising in the ranks from apprentice toolmaker to technical manager.
Hertlein is a plastics industry historian and collector of plastics-related books. Currently his collection houses more than 8,000 textbooks and other pieces of information relevant to the plastics engineering industry.
Ed Laird. A more than five decade veteran of the plastics coatings industry, Ed Laird received his polymer science degree from RM Technical Institute and began his professional career at Chrysler Coatings lab. He gained experience in both the automotive and aircraft coatings segment, and eventually started Laird Coatings Corp. He is now a successful consultant for air quality standards for coatings and his company is in an alliance with PPG to build a new $14 million facility for painting plastics.
Laird has served as President of the SPE’s Southern California Section and is a member of the National Materials Council of PIA. In 1992, he was a recipient of the SPI’s Western Region Distinguished Service Award. In 2018, he was the Hall of Fame Honoree for the Western Plastics Pioneers organizations.
Chris Landis. Beginning his career by designing advertising for a national used plastic machinery dealer, Landis is a founding partner of Coast Polymers, a pioneer trader in recycled and virgin wide-spec plastics. Running granulators and extruders, he introduced novel methods of scrap collection, sorting and cleaning.
In 1992, Coast Polymers was acquired by Bamberger Polymers. Phasing out the recycling business, Coast managed local resin distribution for Bamberger. Over 26 years, Landis built the western region, adding a professional sales team to ultimately sell more than a billion pounds of commodity plastics. Through the years he has been a member of SPI, SPE and WPE.
Outside the plastics world, Landis is active in community service. Holding an art degree, he led his local PTA’s Art Reflections program. He was awarded the Life Touch national prize for cover design and the PTA National Service award. Later, as president of the High School Band Boosters, he raised over $75,000 to buy a trailer, kilts and instruments.
Laird recently retired from Bamberger Polymers, and after more than 40 years focused on plastics, Landis plans to reinvent his creative career in the arts.
Mike Mattina. A graduate of Stephen F. Austin University with a BBA in finance and a minor in chemistry, Mattina started his 32-year plastics career at Exxon Chemical in 1985. While at Exxon Chemical from 1985 to 1991, he was involved in many roles including financial analyst-olefins, sales representative-polyethylene/polypropylene, technical service-polyethylene films, and market development-polyethylene. From 1991 to 1999, he worked for Chevron Chemical, initially in polyethylene sales and market development and later as product manager, HDPE injection and blowmolding products. From 1999 to 2001, Mattina worked for Muehlstein Compounded Products, growing and developing polyethylene and polypropylene compounded products and markets. From 2001 to 2017, he worked for Westlake Chemical.
Ron Oberstar. Starting off in plastics in 1976 with Harshaw Chemical, Oberstar spent his formative years working in Harshaw’s technical service department under the tutelage of Robert Charvat. While working at his day job, Oberstar earned degrees in chemistry and business administration at John Carroll University night school. He then moved into customer service and sales.
Oberstar was relocated to California in a sales capacity for Harshaw Chemical and from there moved onward and upward with BASF and Dianichiseika, ultimately becoming sales manager for the Americas. After 20 years in sales and management, and as a result of M&A activity, Oberstar made a life-changing decision to pursue his dream of starting his own business. Based on his experience and industry contacts, he formed Fortune International Technology, which is a sourcing agent and chemical distribution company specializing in pigments, additives and process equipment.
Lynnette Russo. Part of Bamberger Polymers for 39 years, Russo has seen firsthand the growth of the plastics industry and the changes it has undergone from her commodity resins sales and marketing vantage point. Russo sold to end-users in the south and southeast regions of the United States and to various specific accounts scattered throughout the country. In addition, she handled export traders focused on resin needs for India, Africa and the Far East.
She is a member of Bamberger Polymers Million Dollar Club and was a member of the Society of Plastic Engineers from 1984 to 2015. She is well known for organizing and hosting the Frank Padula Memorial (SPE) Golf Outing from 2001 to 2016, which raised funds for several Texas-based universities.
Ed Schott. After graduating from Lakeland University in Wisconsin, Schott served four years in the U.S. Army. He joined Gulf Oil Chemical Co. in the polyethylene plant in Orange, TX, working in various roles in sales, moving to Indianapolis, Dallas, Cincinnati and back to Houston.
As the company merged with Chevon and later with Conoco Phillips, Schott took on larger and different roles. He worked not only in olefins but also in the aromatics division. He spent many years managing distributor sales for non-prime resins in domestic and overseas markets.
A member of SPI and SPE throughout those years, Schott also is active in his community. He has served on various Home Association board of directors, is Sergeant of Arms at his local VFW, and volunteers with Habitat for Humanity. He and his wife of 40 years are very active in their church, and he enjoys playing golf and working out at the gym.