DEVENS, MASS. - As top manager in charge of Netstal Machinery Inc.'s sales to the CD/DVD market, Robert J. Hayes routinely flew between Boston and Los Angeles.
But the Sept. 11 trip was anything but routine, as Hayes and 91 others were killed when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center.
The plane struck the north tower at 8:45 a.m. - kicking off a day of terrorism that shocked the world.
Hayes, 37, of Amesbury, Mass., is survived by his wife, Deborah, and their two children, Robby, 4, and 6-month-old Ryan. Netstal, based in Devens, has set up a memorial fund for his family.
In his years with Netstal, Hayes was instrumental in helping the company achieve its position as the market leader in molding machines for compact discs and digital versatile discs.
Hayes was a longtime employee of Netstal, having joined the company in 1987 as a service technician. In 1992, he was promoted to market development engineer for the CD industry, at the time a new market for Netstal molding machines. He became market development manager in 1996, and the following year was promoted to the position of manager of sales and market development of data products.
``Bob was a very valuable, loyal and trustworthy employee and friend,'' said Werner Christinger, president of Netstal Machinery. ``He was one of the real honest guys, and he treated us and his customers with great respect. He was a devoted family man, too. This is a great loss for our company and he will be very deeply missed.''
As news of Netstal's loss and of the tragedy spread, many customers called expressing shock, disbelief and sympathy. Amy Hunter, Netstal's human resources manager, said: ``I think we are all still in a bit of shock over what has happened, because of the overall events and especially from losing one of our own. The support that has been offered from employees as well as customers is tremendous. Bob was extremely well-liked and respected. He will be missed beyond words.''
Netstal Machinery Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Netstal Maschinen AG of Nafels, Switzerland,
Hayes was a 1986 graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, with a bachelor's degree in industrial technology. He was devoted to his family and enjoyed surfing and boating.
Netstal asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the fund as follows: Debora L. Hayes, in trust for Robert J. Hayes, beneficiary; Netstal Memorial Trust, Sovereign Bank, 11 Park St., Leominster, Mass. 01453. Donations may be sent either in care of the bank or to Netstal Machinery Inc. at 75 Lake George St., Devens, Mass. 01432.