Ben Miller, 91, founder of RTP Co.
WINONA, MINN. - RTP Co. founder Ben Miller died Nov. 13 from natural causes. He was 91.
The plastics industry veteran died at home in Winona, where he had lived all his life. He established RTP, a specialty compounding firm, more than 20 years ago in the same town.
``He was almost like a dad to me, to the community, really,'' recalled Tom Markey, RTP's vice president of business management. ``Winona is a small community, but he's given away a fortune - in civic programs, to the hospital, to the university. But he was never seeking glory.''
In 1980, Miller sold Fiberite Corp., now known as Cytec Engineered Materials Inc.
The specialty chemicals and materials company is based in West Paterson, N.J. Miller got involved with plastics in the 1940s, starting Fiberite with his father and brother.
Officials said Fiberite was Miller's crowning achievement and fathered the plastics industry for Winona, which has a population of 25,000.
``He believed in plastics as an important part of the economy,'' Markey said in a Nov. 14 telephone interview.
RTP has remained independent and family-owned: Miller's son, Hugh Miller, is now chief executive officer. The firm reports about $150 million in annual sales.
Even when he was not able to walk around the RTP facilities in Winona, Ben Miller used a golf cart to stay involved, and he knew many of the employees on a first-name basis. RTP has 700 employees worldwide, with 350 workers in Winona.
Miller went into the office up until the week before his death.
``Those who worked with Ben will remember his hard-working, innovative and entrepreneurial spirit,'' said Miller's obituary, which was issued by his family. ``Others, both inside and outside the greater Winona community, will remember a life-long commitment to philanthropy and charity.''
Markey said Miller taught him to come to work ``thinking of your customer.''
``He meant it,'' Markey said. ``It was his philosophy in business. He communicated that continuously.''
Bob McFadden, 41, Netstal Machinery
DEVENS, MASS. - Netstal Machinery Inc. sales manager Bob McFadden died Oct. 30 at the age of 41.
Officials from the Devens injection molding machinery firm would not disclose McFadden's cause of death. In a news release, officials said McFadden died suddenly from a short illness.
``Bob had a passion for his work and family,'' the release said. ``He will be missed as a highly skilled and competent industry professional. We will remember him as a great friend and colleague.''
McFadden was Netstal's northeast regional sales manager. He had been with the company since 1985, beginning as a service technician.
A scholarship fund has been set up for McFadden's two sons at Leominster Credit Union.
McFadden is the second young sales manager Netstal has lost in the past 14 months. Robert Hayes, 37, was killed Sept. 11, 2001, when his flight crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.
Peter Perron, 63, Solvay Engineered
MANSFIELD, TEXAS - Retired Solvay Engineered Polymers executive Peter Perron died Oct. 29 after suffering a heart attack. He was 63.
Perron retired in 2000 as vice president for technology at the Auburn Hills, Mich.-based compounder.
Perron spent 35 years in the plastics industry, including stints with General Tire and Rubber Co. and Research Polymers International, which eventually developed into what is now Solvay.
At the time of his death, Perron lived in Mansfield.
Perron held degrees from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute in chemical engineering and polymer materials. He held dozens of patents for developments related to polymer materials and processes, according to Solvay.
``It is a tribute to his understanding and determination that, under his stewardship, the company was able to develop and to deploy technological resources that have made it a consistent leader in its industry segment,'' said Satchit Srinivasan, who is currently Solvay's vice president of technology, in a news release. ``His calm assurance and unfailing good humor, which were evident here even in his retirement, will be missed by us all."