ANAHEIM, CALIF. — The California Film Extruders & Converters Association presented its 1997 Leo Shluker Award to an industry zealot on air quality and environmental issues.
Richard Gurewitz accepted the award, which is named for his uncle, at the group's Sept. 23 dinner meeting in Anaheim. Gurewitz is president of Poly Pak America Inc. in East Los Angeles.
``Richard has helped California converters stay together on issues that could have badly divided us,'' said James P. Kelly, the 1996 Shluker award winner and chairman of Emerald Packaging Inc. in Union City, Calif.
Gurewitz ``is very passionate about the industry and especially about printing matters,'' said Gary Duboff, CFECA's immediate past president. He said Gurewitz strongly encouraged small West Coast operators ``to get into water-based ink'' for flexographic printing on plastics.
``Though he was controversial, he did mean well,'' Duboff said, ``and it was good for California converting and printing manufacturers.''
Duboff is president of Apple & Orange Plastics Inc. in Rancho Dominguez, Calif.
Gurewitz was born in 1936 and attended schools in Los Angeles. The 1952 death of his father, Ben, led to both Gurewitz and his mother, Mary, now 92, taking jobs at Central Bag, which was his Uncle Leo's plastic bag manufacturing company.
At 16, Gurewitz, the eldest son, handled printing and converting assignments and, after high school graduation, took a full-time position. He concentrated on business studies in night classes at Los Angeles City College and eventually became a salesman, rising to become Central Bag's sales manager.
In 1972, with Shluker's blessing, Gurewitz left to start his own operation, brokering bags out of his home, using his garage at a warehouse and relying on his wife, Laurie, to record the transactions and handle customer service. Within a year, Poly Pak had purchased extruders and bag machines.
Now, Poly Pak employs 135, generates annual sales of more than $25 million and occupies 70,000 square feet of manufacturing space and 50,000 square feet of shipping and warehouse facilities.
Gurewitz was a pioneer in manufacturing coextruded film. He developed a number of proprietary films and captured business for fertilizer bags and envelopes.
In 1985, using a mixture of high and low density polyethylene, he created the material Rigur for making strong, puncture-resistant, liquid-proof shipping envelopes.
A daughter, Caryn Fitleberg, is Poly Pak's manufacturing organization manager. A brother is also in the business: Greg Gurewitz is CFECA's treasurer and the president of Great American Packaging Inc. in Vernon, Calif.
Richard Gurewitz was CFECA president in 1982 and was re-elected as the group's vice president this month. The late Leo Shluker founded CFECA and was the group's first president during 1973-74.