Mikron Industries Inc. co-founder Ron Sandwith died May 27 at age 66.
The vinyl window industry veteran suffered from progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare neurodegenerative disorder known as Dudley Moore Disease. That actor and comic died last year from complications related to the disease.
Sandwith was diagnosed in 1999.
``Basically, he got to a point where it was hard for him to function and more and more difficult for him to communicate,'' said Richard Morgan, marketing director of the Kent, Wash.-based company. ``He continued to come to work almost every day. He would spend a couple hours in his office and then he'd join the executive team for lunch. Even though he couldn't communicate well, he listened to what the executive team had to say. If he didn't like what we were doing, he made sure we understood his desires to do other things. He was very actively involved in knowing about the business.''
Sandwith nursed Mikron's growth, establishing it in 1969 with Mike Ritter. The name itself is a fusion of their names. The company grew from making screen splines, soft vinyl glazing materials and protective bumper strips to one of the leading extruders of vinyl and composite building products. The firm reported $172 million in extrusion sales for 2002 with four extrusion plants.
Once Sandwith was diagnosed, he took action to make sure the company remained family-owned, Morgan said. His son, Jeff Sandwith, became co-president with Paul Warner. His other sons, David and Mark, also are involved with the company.
``They viewed it as a legacy,'' Morgan said in a June 4 telephone interview. ``I think largely these guys like the business and see a future for us. They want to stay with it, and that's their strategy.''
In addition to leading his company, Ron Sandwith remained very active in industry associations. He was a founding chairman of the Vinyl Window and Door Division of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. and a major sponsor of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association and the American Architectural Manufacturers Association.