By: Frank Esposito
June 19, 2014
Materials firm Star Thermoplastic Alloys & Rubbers Inc. has expanded its management ranks by hiring former PolyOne Corp. executives Randall Fortin and Larry Johnson.
Fortin joined Broadview, Ill.-based Star in March as the firm’s chief operating officer. Johnson came aboard earlier this month as vice president of business development and sales.
“This is our 21st year, and we were at a point where we expanded our commitment to grow the business,” Star president and owner Tom Dieschbourg said in a June 18 phone interview. “To do that, I needed to share some of the load I’ve been carrying.”
Both positions are new ones for Star, which makes compounds based on several types of thermoplastic elastomers. Fortin was with compounding leader PolyOne of Avon Lake, Ohio, from 2006-2010 as corporate vice president. Prior to that, he was with specialty chemicals maker Nalco Chemical Co. for almost 20 years, and also had a brief stint at Cytec Industries, a specialty chemicals firm that does some plastic composite work.
After leaving PolyOne, Fortin was part of a group that completed a 52-day, coast-to-coast bike ride before starting his own consulting firm — VCS 2 LLC in Avon Lake. But even then, Fortin said in a June 18 phone interview, he missed the level of involvement of being part of a business.
Star had been one of his firm’s clients when Dieschbourg offered Fortin the COO position. At Star, Fortin will be responsible for managing the profit and loss and operational aspects of the company. He said that the opportunity he now has with Star “comes along once or twice in your career, if you’re lucky.”
“This company’s focus on innovation and core values is outstanding,” Fortin added.
Fortin “enjoyed what he was doing [for Star], so I suggested he do it on a full-time basis,” Dieschbourg recalled. In a news release, he added that Fortin “will provide the leadership, management and vision necessary” for Star to continue to grow.
Johnson left PolyOne in 2013 and spent some time with Fortin at VCS before joining Star. In an unusual coincidence, Johnson had worked for Dieschbourg almost 30 years earlier when the two were with TPE compounder GLS Corp., which later was acquired by PolyOne.
Johnson joined PolyOne in 2007 — after being hired by Fortin — and was there for six years as global director of healthcare marketing. Previously, he had about 15 years of experience with materials firms Foster Corp., Deerfield Urethane, Ticona and BFGoodrich, in addition to four years at GLS in the late 1980s.
Star has been on a steep growth curve in recent years. Since early 2012, the firm has added about 15 employees, 10 million to 15 million pounds of annual production capacity and about 40,000 square feet of manufacturing space. More production capacity could be added this year as well, Dieschbourg said.
Star does a good deal of business in the automotive and medical markets, but also has seen growth in pet products, sports and recreation, household appliances and other sectors. The privately owned firm doesn’t disclose sales figures, but Dieschbourg said that growth for 2014 is expected to be 10-20 percent.
“We’ve grown the business and focused on our basic core values, which are to keep the customer happy,” he said.