By: Robert Grace
October 11, 2013
SHEBOYGAN FALLS, WIS. — Plastics Hall of Fame member Peter F. Bemis, president, CEO and co-owner of Bemis Manufacturing Co., died of cancer Oct. 9 at his home in Elkhart Lake, Wis. He was 66 years old.
Bemis was already suffering from advanced, Stage 4 adrenal cancer when first diagnosed in March 2012.
He leaves behind a legacy of innovation and a reputation as an industry and civic leader and a forward-thinking processing maven who pushed the boundaries of technology. He joined his family's Sheboygan Falls, Wis.-based company in 1969 as a clerk, processing time cards and job tickets. He soon was promoted to manufacturing manager of the company's seven-press injection molding operations.
He rose through the ranks, and over the years earned 13 process patents, while pioneering the use of coinjection molding and coextrusion. He also introduced statistical process control throughout Bemis in 1975 — years before it was widely employed by plastics processors.
He formed a strong alliance with the plastics machinery maker Milacron Inc. and together the two firms developed and built the world's largest horizontal coinjection molding machine, with a clamping force of 6,600 tons. Bemis used the massive press to mold huge, 8-foot green hoods for John Deere tractors.
The firms teamed up again at the K show in 2007 to demonstrate more gee-whiz technology. During that show in Düsseldorf, Germany, a 450-ton Ferromatik Milacron injection machine ran a $1 million Foboha cube mold to spit out innovative hinges for use on Bemis' own, branded toilet seats. (Bemis Manufacturing pioneered the development of all-plastic, injection molded toilet seats in the 1960s and remains a brand leader today.) This brief video interview with Peter Bemis at K 2007 explains the back story to that hinge's development.
Note: Because this is an older flash-based video, iPhone/iPad users will be unable to view it. Our apologies.
Bemis served on the national and Midwest boards of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. for many years, was past board chairman of the National Plastics Museum and was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame in 2006. His firm was a finalist for Plastics News' Processor of the Year Award and won a 2011 PN Excellence Award for its industry and public service.
"The plastics industry has lost a true legend as well as a friend," said Bill Carteaux, SPI president and CEO. "Peter made significant contributions to our industry, always willing to push the envelope and try different things — hence the coinjection that Bemis is so known for. I was very proud to be able to congratulate Peter when he was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame several cycles ago.
"Peter was a huge supporter of SPI," Carteaux continued, "and was actively engaged since 1973 when Bemis Manufacturing Co. joined the association. Peter was elected by his peers in the SPI Processors Council to our Executive Board in 2000 where he held his elected position ever since. Peter will always be remembered for his tremendous passion and innovative thinking."
Bemis Manufacturing — which in addition to bathroom products makes a variety of health-care, industrial and precision custom molded and extruded products — today generates more than $350 million in annual sales, with 1,800 employees in six locations worldwide. The 112-year-old company is equally owned by the families of Peter and Richard Bemis.
Peter Bemis is survived by his wife, Susan, sons Jonathan and Peter ("PK") and daughter, Rebecca.