WORCESTER, MASS. - Compounding pioneer Milton S. Sheftel, who founded Reed Plastics Corp., died Oct. 14 in Worcester from complications resulting from a stroke. He was 87. Today, Reed Plastics is colorant producer ReedSpectrum in Holden, Mass.
Sheftel received a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a master's degree in organic chemistry from Clark University in Worcester in the early 1930s. Before joining the plastics industry, he was a chemist at the American Steel & Wire Division of U.S. Steel Corp. in Worcester. During World War II, he was chief chemist at the U.S. Bureau of Mines Laboratory in College Park, Md.
Sheftel began his plastics career in 1944 as chief chemist at Gering Plastics in Kenilworth, N.J. Two years later, he moved to Commonwealth Plastics, a molder and compounder in Leominster, Mass. While there he set up the color laboratory at West-chester Plastics, which was owned by Commonwealth Plastics at the time. Today the operation is the Westchester Plastics division of compounder Ametek Inc. Sheftel founded Reed Plastics Corp. in Worcester in 1948. He served as president until 1980, when he became chairman. He retired in 1988 when Reed was sold to Sandoz Chemical Corp.
Sheftel viewed Reed Plastics as a ``manufacturing chemical laboratory.'' As each new plastic material was introduced, he worked to quickly develop ways to manufacture color compounds. Reed was an early toll compounder of thermoplastics. The firm also reprocessed scrap from customers. In 1966, Reed began making color and additive concentrates.
Sheftel is survived by his wife, Sophia, who was Reed Plastics' first bookkeeper. Both his children continue in the plastics industry. His son, Lawrence, former president of Reed Plastics, is director of development at Dicer Corp. in Haverhill, Mass. Daughter Nancy Sheftel-Gomes is general manager of Golden Gate Polymers Inc., a San Francisco materials broker. He also is survived by five grandchildren.