Carlyle Levinson, the first Californian to coextrude film, has served as a solid resource for a generation in his segment of the plastics industry.
The California Film Extruders and Converters Association presented its 2003 Leo Shluker Award to the entrepreneur, known as Corky, in recognition of his longtime contributions to the industry.
He was CFECA's founding secretary in 1973 and became the association's president in 1975, succeeding founder Leo Shluker.
Levinson, whose 87th birthday is July 31, received his peers' recognition July 23 in Newport Beach, where he resides. Usually CFECA makes the Shluker presentation at its regular September meeting, which will occur Sept. 9, but a recent decline in Levinson's health prompted an accelerated schedule for this year's award.
Levinson ``served for many years as a sounding board'' and mentor for many of the region's extruders, Skip Nevell, retired founder of converter Diamond Polyethylene Products Inc. in Los Angeles, said in a telephone interview. ``Corky's was the place for people to go when they wanted advice and counsel. He had a long view of things and was bright, sober and insightful.''
Louis Kestenbaum termed his relationship in buying stretch film from Levinson as honest and straightforward. ``He was one of the first in stretch and shrink-wrap films and had quite a bit of the market,'' said Kestenbaum, who owned Elkay Plastics Co. Inc. in Los Angeles and was CFECA president in 1980.
The honoree grew up in Terre Haute, Ind., and majored in mechanical engineering at Northwestern University.
Among his pursuits, he built inboard hydroplane racing boats that he operated on his home region's lakes and rivers in the late 1930s. Then he married Helen Klein. ``My wife made me stop racing,'' he said, but the interest in boats continued.
``Our mutual interest and the basis of our friendship was boating,'' said Bert Nada, former minority owner of Diamond Polyethylene. ``Corky raced boats 60-70 years ago'' before the sport became popular.
Levinson worked as a Union Carbide Corp. engineer in the Midwest and then California. He showed creativity in developing agricultural, horticultural and construction markets including use of plastic film for pineapple-field mulch in Hawaii and strawberry-field mulch in California and elsewhere.
``We sold about every converter in Southern and northern California from 1960 until the 1980s,'' Levinson said by telephone.
Around 1969, financially challenged Kleerpak Manufacturers Inc., a film converting firm in North Hollywood, Calif., hired Levinson to take over its Golden West Plastics Inc. extrusion operation.
He went to Europe, identified the latest techniques and acquired and installed Gloucester Engineering equipment in Golden West's plant in Tustin, Calif.
Eventually, Kleerpak failed as a business, but Levinson was able to fulfill a longtime yearning. ``I wanted to be in my own business,'' he said.
Golden West, which he co-owned beginning in 1971, operated eight processing lines and extruded about 30 million pounds of polyethylene per year. ``I was the first person in a company in California to coextrude film,'' he recalled.
In 1983, Levinson and his silent partner sold Golden West to the film production unit of Consolidated Thermoplastics of Dallas. For two more years, Levinson operated the extrusion business for the new owner.
Separately, he established and operated Extruders Insurance Associates as a service for the plastics industry.
He sold the insurance agency in 1999.