Robert D. Forger likes stability.
Forger spent 34 years at the Society of Plastics Engineers, including more than two decades as executive director. It was just his second job out of college. In May, he and his wife, Eleanor, celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary.
``I only had two jobs and we've only had two homes,'' he said.
Forger, 69, retired a few years ago. But he forever will be associated with the Brookfield, Conn.-based SPE, a professional society that represents the individuals who make the plastics industry run.
``The good thing is, I always loved my job. There was never a morning that I didn't want to get out of bed and go to work. I always loved what I was doing,'' he said.
Under Forger's tenure as executive director, membership more than doubled, to 37,000, and SPE expanded globally.
In a Plastics News story when he retired, associates described Forger, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, as reliable and even-tempered.
Forger stepped down in January 1993. A lot of plastics veterans retire only to work just as hard as consultants. Not Forger.
``I've been taking it easy,'' he said. ``My wife and myself had worked hard, looking toward retirement. Now we have the opportunity to retire and do as we please. Her favorite comment is, we're like two kids let out for recess. If we get up and feel like going to a movie, we do it. We don't have any type of rigid schedule.''
So far, the Forgers have taken four major trips, including cruises to Alaska and through the Panama Canal. Robert and Eleanor spent their 45th wedding anniversary cruising through the western Caribbean.
He loves to do yard work on their 2 acres in Wilton, Conn. She became a pro football fan and avid quilt-maker.
Forger joined SPE in 1959. Ten years earlier, he had received his bachelor's degree in chemistry from Norwich University in Northfield, Vt. His first job out of college was as an engineer at Dorr-Oliver Inc., an industrial equipment company in Stamford, Conn. He worked in the laboratory, then went into advertising and public relations.
That combination of communications and technical skills helped him secure a job at SPE. Forger did almost everything at SPE: directed member services, organized Annual Technical Conferences and published SPE magazines. He became executive director in 1971.
Forger takes pride in a job well-done. What achievements at SPE made him most proud?
In 1979, SPE moved from Greenwich, Conn., to its current Brookfield headquarters. Forger said the move was debt-free, as SPE traded the Greenwich building for the new one, built in a bucolic setting in the woods.
Forger also fondly recalls a ``great leap forward'' in membership near the end of his SPE years. In 1987, membership had been static at about 24,000 for the past four years. Forger used his contacts at other professional societies, hiring a consultant. During the next few years, membership jumped more than 50 percent.
The Forgers have two sons. Jeffrey Forger works at SPE as managing director of member services. Gary is special products editor at a trade magazine, Modern Materials Handling.