Obituary: Plastics industry leader Roger Jones, 83

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Roger Jones

Roger Jones — a longtime plastics industry executive and author — died from natural causes on May 6 at age 83.

Jones also was a U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Korean War and then for more than 30 years as a reservist. In addition, he was an alternate to the U.S. Olympic fencing team in 1956.

Most recently, Jones served as president of Franklin International, a consulting firm he had founded in Broomall, Pa. Franklin also did business for several years as a resin distributor. Jones also remained a board member and chairman emeritus of PlastiComp Inc., a specialty materials firm that he helped found in Winona, Minn.

PlastiComp President and CEO Stephen Bowen described Jones as “a dear friend, a great man, a notable manager in the plastics business [and] a man devoted to his family, church, and community.”

Jones’ plastics career spanned almost six decades and included leadership roles at LNP Engineering Plastics, Inolex Chemical, BASF Engineering Plastics and Beatrice Chemical. He also worked in manufacturing, product development and marketing with DuPont Co., Avisun and ARCO Chemical — as well as serving in the Navy — between 1952 and 1967.

In 1967, Jones joined LNP — a compounding firm then based in Malvern, Pa. — as marketing manager. He became LNP’s president in 1976, before leaving in 1981 to join Inolex in Philadelphia. At BASF in the mid-1980s, Jones helped rebuild the firm’s nylon, PET and acetal businesses. He founded Franklin after his time at BASF.

The PlastiComp news release credits Jones with “serving as a devoted mentor to many,” adding that he “was widely known for his enthusiasm for having so many opportunities to work at the forefront of new technology in the burgeoning chemicals, plastics, and composites industry throughout his lifetime.”

Jones was active in industry trade groups throughout his career, including work with the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) and American Chemical Society (ACS), where he regularly participated in panel discussions and delivered research presentations at national meetings. These two groups along with American Institute of Chemists have honored Jones with Fellow status.

In addition to these endeavors, Jones was the inventor of record on 20 patents and wrote five books as well as more than 100 papers and articles. His most recent book — “Strategic Management” — was published in August and covered the impact of globalization and sustainability on the plastics industry.

Jones held a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Haverford College in Haverford, Pa.

“We have lost a friend and resources,” PlastiComp’s Bowen added.

Jones was a frequent letter writer and occasional guest columnist in Plastics News. In a letter printed in November, Jones wrote that the plastics industry “has a long, proud history of technology growth and appropriate substitution for conventional materials in applications, resulting in significant amounts of energy conservation. That’s a proud record and we need not be afraid to publicize it.”

Even though Jones worked for a number of large companies throughout his career, he still saw the potential in smaller companies such as PlastiComp. In a 2007 PN article about the 100th anniversary of the U.S. plastics market, Jones said that “there are still a lot of opportunities for business that larger material companies don’t have the resources to go after anymore. There’s still some type of entrepreneurship in compounding of the higher-end materials.”

He also wasn’t shy about speaking his mind. In a 2008 speech at the Society of Plastics Engineers’ Antec conference in Milwaukee, Jones said that anti-trade policies being touted by some U.S. politicians could hurt the country’s plastics industry.

“This is an area where we have to get the attention of the politicians that we are electing to office and say, ‘My job matters; my industry matters. I want to know where you stand on this,’” Jones said. “Don’t let them off the hook; don’t let them wiggle on that. They have to give you an honest answer.”