Kenneth E. Michalek killed himself with a handgun Feb. 13 in his office at Service Plastics Inc., the financially ailing custom molder he owned in Elk Grove Village, Ill., police said. ``He was distraught over financial matters of the company,'' said Sgt. Gordon Hollywood of the Elk Grove Village Police Department.
Michalek shot himself in the head. He left a suicide note, but officials would not disclose what it said. Police have ended their investigation, Hollywood said. Michalek, 50, was buried Feb. 17.
``This caught all of us very much by surprise,'' said Eric Lundstrom, an outside financial adviser who has worked with Service Plastics for 14 years. He is helping find investors to buy the company from Michalek's wife, Sandra Michalek.
``We're working through the financial affairs as quickly as we can but also have to recognize there's an emotional side to this that we have to deal with,'' Lundstrom said.
Other company officials, and family members, could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhild, management is trying to keep the company operating.
Service Plastics got hit hard when a major market-cabinets for television sets-began moving to Mexico, Lundstrom said. After Michalek killed himself the company shut down, but Lundstrom said production was scheduled to begin this past Friday. He hoped to return to three-shift production this week.
``It was the one of Michalek's last wishes to keep the parts flowing to the customers.'' Lundstrom said.
Michalek as majority owner of Service Plastics. According to Plastics News latest ranking of injection molders, the company hnad 1994 sales of $19.6 million. Employment was listed at 250 for that year. But Hollywood said only about 100 people worked there the day Michalek died.
Service Plastics was founded in 1945, and it grew with the advent of television. Michalek bought the company in 1983.
``The television cabinet business, going to Mexico over the last several years, definitely had an impact on the company,'' Lundstrom said. ``A variety of new customers have been generated, but it has been a challenging transition.''
Lundstrom confirmed that the company is financially backed by Fremont Financial Corp. Fremont Financial, based in Santa Monica, Calif., has an office in Chicago.
Details on the company's debts were not available.
Sandra Michalek wants to sell the company.
``Mrs. Michalek is certainly looking to transition out of the business, so the management is working to put together the investors they need to do that,'' Lundstrom said.
Lundstrom and another Chicago business acquaintance, Fred Pollak, described the deceased Service Plastics owner as a good person and businessman.
Lundstrom said: ``He was an extremely generous, caring individual. Had a very hard laying an employee off. Spent a great deal of time with his employees and his family. He'll be missed very much.''
Pollak, president of International Auctioneers Inc. of Chicago, said he has been in machinery business in Chicago for 35 years. He knew Michalek through business.
``He was a good businessman. Basically what happened is something that can happen to anyone...That company was built on molding parts of the audio-television type of industry. Most of that business has been moved to outside the United States, and the type of work that remained was a very low gross profit, which made it impossible to operate in a positive cashflow psoition,'' Pollak said.
Pollak said he has contacted Service Plastics about buying the company.
``We would evaluate it an either sell it as a going company or liquidate it, either one.''
But Lundstrom said last week that he was not aware of any serious discussions with Pollak.
``At this point in time, the management group has every intention to continue the company and is working with several investment groups to keep an uninterrupted supply of parts going out to their customers,'' he said.