THE WETZES GET WESTERN PLASTICS AWARD

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CORONADO, CALIF. — The 1997 Western Plastics Award went to the husband-and-wife team of William and Kay Wetz. The Ohio natives from, respectively, Dayton and Findlay, have lived in Oregon since 1972.

``Tonight, we honor this dynamic duo, not just for individual service but for their combined leadership. They are incomparable,'' Jeff Gage said in announcing the award at the kick-off dinner for the Western Section of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. Conference, held May 15-17 in Coronado. Gage, president of Gage Industries, chaired the awards-selection committee.

The honorees operate Wetz & Co. Inc. in Philomath, Ore., with the full-time assistance of daughter Rhonda Davis and son-in-law Tim Davis.

Formed in 1988, Wetz & Co. represents Van Dorn injection molding machines, Davis-Standard extruders, Conair auxiliary systems, Molding Automation Concepts and W-J barrel rebuilding service in Northwest states and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta.

Bill Wetz worked with Dow Chemical Co. for 11 years in research and development, plant engineering and management and held positions as plant manager for Gage Industries in Lake Oswego, Ore., and sales manager for Quality Plastics in Newberg, Ore.

He was president of SPI's Northwest chapter, chairman of the Oregon Plastics Industry Political Action Committee, general chairman of the 1988 SPI Western Section conference and the section's 1994-95 chairman. The section awarded him a Distinguished Service Award in 1996.

Kay Wetz worked with Hewlett Packard Co. for 17 years until 1993, and she has picked up the reigns of the section's community involvement program. In 1995, she mounted a successful campaign to remove an anti-plastics exhibit at Oregon Coast Aquarium, which now features a display using plastics that deals with animal feeding.

She has led school tours of Oregon plastics plants, organized plastics industry outreach efforts at an Oregon State Fair booth for two years and co-chaired an Oregon state capital grass-roots lobbying program. The Western Section awarded her a precedent-setting Community Involvement Award in 1996.

Kay Wetz's acceptance remarks encouraged involvement: ``You can get out there, and you can volunteer, and you can all make a difference. You can change the negative things people say about your industry, you can draw people in, and you can make things better.''

Kay Wetz, 59, is president of

the business, and Bill Wetz, 57, is vice president. They have six children and 10 grandchildren and celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary on the closing day of the conference.

The SPI Western Section gave three Distinguished Service Awards:

Paul Appelblom, chief executive officer of Jatco Inc. in Union City, Calif.

Appelblom chaired the 1997 Western Section conference, is a past president of the Northern California chapter and has been instrumental in the section's Plastics Education Program and received a 1996 Community Involvement Award.

Michael Smith, general manager for the western region of Husky Injection Molding Systems Inc. in Costa Mesa, Calif.

Smith is now the section treasurer and community involvement chairman, served as 1996 conference chairman, is a past president of the Southern California chapter and performs as a professional magician.

Mike Koebel, president of Prestige Mold Inc. in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Koebel, 39, helped to create the Fontana Project to interest high school students in mold making and guide them toward apprenticeships. His wife, Donna, accepted the award for him, explaining that he underwent a bone marrow transplant recently, is ``feeling terrific'' and is looking forward to returning home.

Separately, the Western Plastics Pioneer Hall of Fame inducted James H. Wolcott of San Diego as a member. Wolcott serves as the group's treasurer. He began working in 1937 with a company making injection molding machines and, in 1959, founded Wolcott Machinery Co.