Edward T. Fleming received the 2002 Western Plastics Award in recognition of industry service.
Fleming, who is chairman of Cal-Mold Inc. in Mira Loma, Calif., is nearing a half-century in the business and approaching retirement. He received the award during the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s National Molders Division and Western Region joint conference, held March 11-13 in Las Vegas.
SPI interviewed numerous Cal-Mold employees about Fleming. ``He's like a dad to me,'' said a 20-year employee on whose house Fleming helped make a downpayment.
``He asks about personal issues you've shared with him over the years,'' said an employee of nine years. Following another's motorcycle accident, Fleming supported the engineer through hospital treatment, rehabilitation, recovery and return to work.
During the presentation, one-time employee Alex Mora said, ``The reason for my success in plastics is Ed Fleming.'' Mora worked at Cal-Mold from 1968-84, formed Formula Plastics Inc. in 1984 in Ontario, Calif., and set up a Tecate, Mexico, site in 1987.
Mora, Fleming and their spouses pooled savings to build the first of Formula's Tecate structures, now numbering four.
``I was a 50 percent partner'' until 1994, Fleming said in an interview. ``We took nine old machines out of Cal-Mold and started in Tecate.''
With Fleming's encouragement, Mora created training programs during 1975-78, and now teaches the concepts through college-level vocational courses and trade group seminars.
Fleming, 67, became an apprentice mold maker in June 1952 and, with a partner, established Cal-Mold in 1957 to build molds.
Fleming sold his interest in a few years and joined toy maker Mattel Inc. in 1963 as a tool liaison engineer. Following his partner's business failure, Fleming re-established Cal-Mold doing repairs in 1966 and subsequently expanded into injection molding, initially for Mattel.
When Mattel opted to take its molding in-house, Fleming scrambled for financing and acquired custom injection molding work.
In 1998, Cal-Mold invested more than $6 million in a Mira Loma construction project. Fleming separated himself from daily operations in February and supervised all tenant improvements. In August, Cal-Mold moved to the 170,000-square-foot facility from City of Industry, Calif.
``We bet the farm. It was a tremendous amount of money'' for Cal-Mold, Fleming said.
``Cal-Mold has survived five or six recessions and three personal crises,'' said son Erik Fleming, president since January 2000.
Cal-Mold employs about 300, operates 41 injection molding presses of 35-610 tons and had 2001 sales of about $20 million. Cal-Mold supports scholarship and employee continuing-education programs.
Soon, Cal-Mold will implement the interactive SPI OrientMe! program and an in-house-developed, comprehensive cross-training program.
In other honors, the SPI Western Region presented distinguished service awards to Scott Merrill for 2001 and Fred Betke for 2002, for their extensive participation and involvement in SPI and industry activities.
Merrill is regional sales manager in Anaheim, Calif., for Milacron Inc.'s injection machinery business, and Betke is president and owner of plastics processor Delta Pacific Products Inc. in Santa Clara, Calif.