CORONADO, CALIF. — The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s Western Region presented its Distinguished Service Award to Gary Sanders of Vancouver, Wash. Sanders shared some opinions at the regional forum, held May 11-12 in Coronado.
Regarding the SPI and American Plastics Council split: "I would like to see that buried as fast as possible. The two organizations handle two different things, and there is no reason why it couldn't have always been that way."
Regarding member aging: "There is a lot of gray hair in this organization, and that somehow has to change. We've got to get younger people in, and I am not sure what it is going to take."
Sanders started a two-year term as chairman of SPI's Pacific Northwest chapter in September.
On Oct. 1, he became a partner in the Northwest operation of manufacturers' representative HS&S Plastic Machinery, which he left 17 years earlier. HS&S is based in Costa Mesa, Calif.
>From 1979-83, he joined with Rod Hughes and Frank Sforza in establishing HS&S. The initials represent the founders' last names. An economic down cycle prompted Sanders to leave HS&S, and he returned to Celanese Inc. Hughes and Sforza continued HS&S and "kept the name all those years," he said.
Sanders was born in Nebraska in 1937, grew up in Vancouver and took his first plastics position there in 1968 selling for Portco Corp., a maker of plastic pipe, fittings and film.
He held end-use development, product-line management and external sales positions with Celanese pipe and fitting, resin and distribution units from 1971-79 and 1983-85 on the West Coast and in Hilliard, Ohio; Chicago; and St. Louis.
Sanders supervised Celanese's marketing of polyethylene and chlorinated PVC pipe and fittings, developed plumbing applications and dealt with the molding requirements of large processors. In the Northwest, he established Celanese's first domestic distributorship, "a test case that turned out extremely successful," he said.
General Polymers hired him in 1985 to "open up the Pacific Northwest district from scratch," said Sanders, who built a network and remained with the Ashland Chemical Co. unit for 14 years.
He and Bill MacIver were key organizers of SPI regional golf tournaments for many years, and Sanders was also active with the Society of Plastics Engineers.
He chaired a former political action committee for the Oregon plastics industry, and he and others organized a booth at the Oregon state fair in 1996.
"We literally changed over 5,000 people's minds overnight," he said. "Today, I would say that Oregon is as plastics oriented as you could get."
Sanders was among those instrumental in the Oregon office of economic development designating plastics as a key industry in the state and authorizing a grant. The business and marketing plan cost $30,000.
"We are off and running on the programs," he said.