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Obituary: Shirish Patel, former Newell Rubbermaid purchasing director

By: Frank Esposito

April 16, 2014

Shirish Patel, former director of purchasing at Newell Rubbermaid Corp. and a longtime plastics industry veteran, has passed away at age 70.

Patel was born in Ahmedabad, India, and immigrated to the U.S. in 1964. After earning a chemical engineering degree in 1967 from the University of Toledo — his second degree, following a chemistry degree from KC College in Mumbai — he spent most of his career in Northeast Ohio.

Prior to joining Newell Rubbermaid, he held various management positions with thermoset molder Glastic Molding LLC in Cleveland and Jefferson, Ohio, and served as vice president of operations at toy maker Little Tikes Co. in Hudson, Ohio. Little Tikes ranks as one of North America’s largest rotational molders. The firm previously was owned by Newell Rubbermaid and now is owned by MGA Entertainment.

An April 16 obituary in the Lake County (Ohio) News-Herald said that Patel held these posts “while continuously serving as a business consultant and mentor to countless businesses and individuals.”

Most recently, Patel operated his own consulting firm, Wisdom Plastics in Brecksville, Ohio. At Newell Rubermaid, he was responsible for buying 1.6 billion pounds of resin annually.

At a 2012 rotational molding conference in Cleveland, Patel said that resin buyers and sellers need to work as partners with mutual respect.

“You respect them,” he added. “You respect the information they’re giving you. They’re giving you the right information, because they understand that you understand the cost components and you have some gumption about what’s going on.”

When he was buying resin, Patel developed detailed reports for management explaining the full market picture. Resin makers “will always tell you that you can’t do anything about it, but you can,” he said at the 2012 conference.

“It’s like everything else in life: If you think you’re broken, you will be broken. It all depends on how you want to handle it.”

Patel also “played a key role in shaping Cleveland’s Indian community,” according to the obituary. He’s survived by his wife, Chetna; son, Rakesh; and two grandchildren.

The Patel family has asked that memorial contributions be forwarded to the Heart Transplantation Program at the Cleveland Clinic, P.O. Box 931517, Cleveland, Ohio, 44193. Patel was a 19-year survivor of a heart transplant performed at Cleveland Clinic.