Kudos to four plastics industry leaders for putting their money where their mouths are. As a result of their largess, the National Plastics Center and Museum is about to hit the road. Robert A. Hoffer Sr., Hoffer Plastics Corp. chairman and chief executive of-ficer, took the initiative and recently agreed to plunk down $40,000 to buy and equip a traveling NPCM van. Three others then stepped up to the challenge and offered $25,000 each to help cover the van's operating costs in its first year. Those three are Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. President Robert Schad, Nypro Inc. President Gordon B. Lankton and Tech Group Inc. President Stephen Uhlmann. This $115,000 in contributions will allow the center to take two of its popular lab-demonstration programs - ``The Chemistry of Plastics'' and ``Plasticlab!'' - to school children and science teachers across the country, according to Valerie A. Wilcox, NPCM executive director.
``If youngsters can be reached early enough, we can stimulate their imagination and interest in such innovative and pervasive modern materials,'' she said. ``We even show them that making plastic toys can be a lot of fun.''
The programs already have drawn 12,000 young people to the center in Leominster since it opened in 1992, as well as more than 1,500 students to plastics fairs in Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, and Long Beach, Calif. The center has attracted more than 25,000 total visitors, including representatives from 17 nations and 42 states, Wilcox said.
The van will begin traveling when the school year starts this fall, and initially will visit those regions represented by the four underwriters, each of whom is a member of the center's 20-person board of governors. Hoffer is in South Elgin, Ill.; Nypro in Clinton, Mass.; Tech Group in Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Husky in Bolton, Ontario.
Wilcox said the center still needs funding for teacher workshops, traveling exhibits and videos. The traveling programs will preview May 22-23 in Pittsfield, Mass., with the Berkshire Plastics Network organizing and sponsoring student groups and teacher workshops. Frank DiSesa, recently retired vice president for research and development at Tucker Housewares in Leominster, is overseeing graphic design of the van.
Nothing has happened to sway our previously stated opinion that the money and effort devoted to the center's youth-education projects and to taking them into the field remain among the best investments this industry can make.
It will be heartening this fall to see the tangible results when the rubber hits the road for NPCM's traveling projects, courtesy of Messrs. Hoffer, Lankton, Uhlmann and Schad.
I think it's called ``leadership byexample.''
Grace is editor of Plastics News.