Politics beckon Stronach: Ex-Magna chief heads Austrian party

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We’ve been watching plastics company CEOs try their hand in the political arena — with some success — for a few years.

The U.S. plastics industry is represented in the Senate — by Ron Johnson, former president of sheet extruder Pacur LLC in Oshkosh, Wis. — and in the House of Representatives, by Speaker of the House John Boehner, the former president of a small distributor of plastics and packaging products; Jeff Denham, co-owner of Denham Plastics LLC, a reseller of agricultural harvesting containers such as bulk bins, pallets and totes; and Darrell Issa, former CEO of a company that at one time injection molded components for vehicle security systems and car audio equipment.

Not to mention Jon Huntsman Jr., who made a race for the Republican nomination for president this year.

Now, it seems, the trend is going international.

Frank Stronach, the founder of Aurora, Ontario-based automotive supplier Magna International Inc., is running for election in Austria.

Stronach has a pretty big ambition — he’s leading a new party called Team Stronach für Österreich (Team Stronach for Austria) that aims to play a big role in the country’s next coalition government.

The party is in favor of leaving the euro, cutting government waste, simplifying taxes and introducing an all-volunteer military.

Magna is the largest injection molder in North America, according to Plastics News’ annual ranking. For years Stronach also was the top dog on PN’s list of highest-paid plastics industry executives.

Now, according to the Reuters story “Magna founder Frank Stronach starts Austrian election campaign,” Stronach has “painted himself as a simple soul whose duty was to return from Canada, where he made his fortune, to help his native Austria.”

“I am not a politician. We are a movement, an Austrian movement,” he said at a Sept. 27 news conference.

It’s an interesting attitude from a guy whose daughter Belinda was a prominent member of the Canadian parliament and, by some accounts, a close friend of former U.S. President Bill Clinton. (Clinton also has endorsed Frank Stronach’s efforts in Austria.)

Never a dull moment in politics.

Meanwhile, in the United States, we’ll be watching on election day next month to see if Dave Spence, the former owner of St. Louis blow molder Alpha Packaging Inc., will win his race to become the next governor of Missouri.

We’ll also keep an eye on all the Congressional races involving current and former plastics executives.

Who knows, maybe their success will prompt some more Plastics News readers to take a stab at public service.

Loepp is editor of  Plastics News and author of “The Plastics Blog.”