Like many people in the plastics industry, John Griep didn't grow up dreaming of plastics as a career. Fortunately for the thermoforming in-dustry, his life's path took him in that direction. Griep, recently named the 1996 Thermo-former of the Year by the Society of Plas-tics Engineers' Thermoforming Division, was born and reared in Milwaukee. After a six-year stint in the U.S. Air Force, he worked with his brother in the foundry industry in the mold-match plate business. He served as general manager for Atlas Precision Cast for five years.
While at Atlas, Griep helped develop and produce some of the first molds for twin-sheet thermoforming. He was also instrumental in developing tooling for the expandable polystyrene processing industry.
In July 1972, Griep founded Portage Casting & Mold Inc. in Portage, Wis., with five employees in a 6,000-square-foot building. Griep has spent the past 25 years pushing the envelope of what might be possible in the realm of new applications and technologies in thermoforming.
Griep also served in a number of positions with SPE, including chairman-elect of the Thermo-forming Board from 1985-86, chairman from 1986-88, counselor from 1989-94, chairman of SPE's divisions committee in 1991-92, and director of SPE divisions in 1994-95.
In the fall of 1990, Griep organized and funded the first Thermoforming Conference in Portage, Wis., which attracted 135 people. That annual event has grown, with 680 attendees at the September 1995 conference in Independence, Ohio. This annual conference currently is under the direction of SPE's Thermoforming Division.
Although Griep now is officially retired and living in sunny Arizona, retirement for him means more time to work at promoting thermoforming. He is active in SPE, serving as the counselor for the Arizona chapter. Griep also is active in the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. and the Society of Mechanical Engineers.
His technical knowledge and business insight is the basis for Griep's many speaking engagements on thermoforming tooling technology. Griep is a pioneer in the development of high-tech tooling for thermoforming, particularly in the area of pressure and twin-sheet thermoforming tooling. One example of this is Griep's assistance in the creation of state-of-the-art twin-sheet tooling for athletic-shoe soles.
Perhaps one of the most exciting accomplishments for Griep is spearheading the new Super Session at this year's ANTEC in Indianapolis. Griep tried for many years to get this type of program implemented at ANTEC.
The Super Session, billed as ``A Practical Day at ANTEC' has no technical papers. Griep, who served as the co-chairman, is excited about the possibility of this day-long session as a method of information exchange between original equipment manufacturers and thermoformers. He hopes to make it a major part of every ANTEC conference in the future.
Today, Portage operates in a 100,000-square-foot facility and employs 75, giving customers a full range of services using computer-aided design and manufacturing technology. Griep's sons now run the day-to-day business.