A three-person management team will operate Polymer Design Corp. in the coming weeks following the March 30 death of the Rockland, Mass., custom molder's two founders in an airplane crash. Samuel Snyder, 50, and his brother James, 49, founded Polymer Design in 1979, with a coin flip deciding who would head engineering and who would head administration.
The Snyder brothers, both engineers and experienced pilots, nevertheless had never flown a private plane together before their crash just after noon on Interstate 495 in Wareham, Mass., south of Boston.
According to James Cain, Washington-based air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, James was piloting the plane when it took off about 12:30 p.m. He had rented the single-engine Piper Arrow from ADS Flight Center, the fixed-base operator at Norwood Memorial Airport, Cain said.
James Snyder flew from Norwood to Plymouth Airport, east of Providence, R.I., where he picked up his brother, Samuel. After taking off, the pilot radioed the Warwick, R.I., air traffic control tower around 12:45 p.m. to report engine trouble.
The Plymouth airport is five or six miles northeast of the accident site, Cain said. The aircraft apparently experienced engine trouble and crashed onto I-495.
``He was heading for a break in the trees. Had he hit further north he would have been in the trees, or further south, he would have been in the trees,'' Cain said.
The plane skidded from the northbound lanes across the highway median, into the southbound lanes. The plane struck a southbound station wagon and exploded, according to Cain. Also killed were a woman and her 4-year-old daughter in the car.
The plane was apparently on a pleasure flight to Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island, but Cain had not determined the purpose of the flight April 2.
Now, Martin Hancey, a longtime Polymer Design employee and director of finance and administration; Karen Voeller, director of manufacturing and engineering; and Gail Goldberg, sales and marketing director, will run the company for the family, said company spokesman Dallas Dermin.
Polymer Design specializes in low-volume, complex parts. It uses liquid resin casting to make parts from thermoset epoxy, polyurethane and silicone. As specialists in high-value processing and design, many of its products are for customers in medicine and the military. Arthro-scopes, heart pumps and suits for bomb disposal teams are some of its recent products.
But the company also is known for providing significant benefits to its employees, many of whom had served since the company was founded.
The president of nearby injection molder, Roy L. Manns, of Polyfiltronics Inc., said April 1, ``I've known the Snyder brothers for more than 10 years. They've developed products for me and many of my clients over the years. It's the finest pair I have known for many years.''
Polyfiltronics is about 11/2 miles away from Polymer Design, in the same industrial complex, about 30 miles south of Boston.
``The best thing I could say is that what they've proven is that you can build a business on honesty and hard work and fairness to your employees and your customers, which is something many cynics today don't believe,'' Manns said.
According to the Boston Globe, which featured the crash and a history of Polymer Design on its April 1 front page, Polymer Design was a ``solid corporate citizen.'' In 1994, it donated a used machining lathe to Rockland High School, saving the school $30,000, the paper said.