James A.D. Geier, the man who led machine toolmaker Milacron Inc. to diversify into plastics processing machinery in the 1960s, died Aug. 1 from complications of heart failure, while racing his sailboat in Maine. He was 75.
Geier was the last of the founding Geier family members to play an active role in Milacron. He was the son of Milacron's longtime Chief Executive Officer Frederick V. Geier and the grandson of Frederick A. Geier, one of the founders of Cincinnati Milling Machine Co., which first incorporated in 1884.
Geier began working at the company in 1951, starting on the ground floor as a machinist. He was promoted to vice president in 1964. He is credited with giving key executive support to Milacron's move into plastics machinery in 1968, the year the Plastics Machinery Division was created.
Raymond E. Ross, who was one of the division's original employees, said Geier hired Bill Mericle to find another product line, to expand beyond metalworking machines. Mericle then hired Dave Noffsinger, and they did the legwork to get into plastics.
``Their sponsor and their godfather was Jim,'' said Ross, who retired in 1997 as Milacron's president and chief operating officer.
Geier became president and chief executive officer in 1970, the year the company changed its name to Cincinnati Milacron Inc. He became chairman in 1981, then retired as an officer in 1990. He continued to serve on the board until 1996, when he became a director emeritus.
Milacron ended up selling its flagship machine tool business in 1998.
Geier was fascinated with all types of machines, trains, boats and planes. When he died, he was competing in his boat, The Mantlepiece, in the Volvo Leukemia Cup Regatta near his summer home in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.
Ross said Geier built a scale railway to drive around his property, and a working paddle wheel boat.
At Milacron, Ross described Geier as a visionary who gave employees freedom - and corporate financial backing - to move into new areas, including lasers, robots, printed circuit boards and complex machines for making aerospace parts.
Geier was very active in the Cincinnati community, serving as president of the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and playing a key role in relocating the museum to its present site at Union Terminal. He was an officer of the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce and a founding member of the Cincinnati Business Committee.
Funeral services will be private. A memorial service is being planned for sometime the week of Aug. 6 in Cincinnati.