John L. Witt, a 1956 chemical engineering graduate from Iowa State University, joined Shell Chemical Co.'s Plastics & Resins Division in Houston in 1959 after three years of active duty aboard Pacific Fleet destroyers in the U.S. Navy. At Shell he began work in research and development in epoxy resin process development.
Witt worked at Shell until 1966, doing plastics technical service and sales, before leaving with another Shell engineer to start up and become part owner of Ohio Kal Plastics in Greenville, Ohio, a firm affiliated with sheet extruder Kal Plastics Inc. of Beaverton, Mich. Witt served as vice president of sales for several years, even after Kal Plastics and Ohio Kal were acquired by Alma Plastics of Alma, Mich.
In 1972, Witt left Alma Plastics to form his own company, custom sheet extruder Witt Plastics Inc., in Greenville. Eleven years later, the firm acquired the assets of custom and lighting panel extruder Litek Corp. of Miami, Fla., and formed Witt Plastics Inc. of Florida, and the following year moved equipment and staff to a new leased building in Lakeland, Fla.
In 1984 Witt started a sales operation in Puerto Rico, initially to explore the market and sell extruded sheet in Puerto Rico and Caribbean. The unit — which operated as Caribbean Industrial Plastics
— marketed polystyrene resin and other materials as the Caribbean distributor for Huntsman Chemical until being sold in 1990to the Polymerland distribution unit of GE Plastics.
Witt Plastics continues to grow and operate its Greenville facility, specializing in thin-gauge, rigid sheet and rollstock (mostly high-impact polystyrene and polypropylene) used for printing and thermoformed packaging of various products, including electronic components, medical packaging, and form-fill-seal containers for dairy and food products. Last year the company recorded sales of $25 million, with two plants and 110 employees processing about 30 million pounds of resin.
Witt, a member of the Society of Plastics Engineers since 1961, was part of the original group in 1970 that formed what is now the Sheet Producers Division of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., a division of which he is a past chairman and director-at-large.
In 1998, Witt was elected a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association.