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Thermoforming pioneer Benjamin dead at 73

October 30, 2012

BELLFLOWER, CALIF. (Oct. 30, 4:15 p.m. ET) — William Harold “Bill” Benjamin, 73, the 2003 SPE Thermoformer of the Year, died Oct. 27 in Bellflower from cancer.

Benjamin and his wife Beverly started Benjamin Mfg. Co. Inc. in Paramount, Calif., in 1961. He developed and patented an acrylic-ABS material called Akralac that allowed the company to develop some of the first bathtub liners made of the blend in the early 1970s.

The innovation started a chain of applications from other thermoformers in such products as automotive exteriors, boat hulls, shower stalls and recreational vehicles.

Bill Benjamin was born July 19, 1939, in Youngstown, Ohio. When Bill and Beverly moved from Hubbard, Ohio, to California in 1959, he was a meat cutter at a Kroger grocery store.

Eventually he left butchering and joined his uncle in a plumbing parts business, before setting off to start his own thermoforming company, according to a profile published in Plastics News in 2003, when he was honored as Thermoformer of the Year by the Society of Plastics Engineers Thermoforming Division.

Benjamin served on the division’s board of directors for several years.

One of his first pieces of equipment was a trademarked two-station, bifurcator thermoformer of his own design. Some of his machines are still in operation at the company’s plants in Paramount, Calif., and Lithia Springs, Ga.

Benjamin is survived by his wife of 54 years and their children, including two sons who remain with the company.

A celebration of his life will be held at Benjamin Mfg. Co., 15324 Illinois Ave, Paramount, Calif., from noon to 2:00 p.m., Friday, Nov. 2.

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to: Bill Benjamin Memorial Scholarship Fund, SPE TF Division, PO Box 471, Lindale, GA 30147.