Plymouth Foam Inc. realized a nightmare Feb. 4 when its two owners and vice president of operations were killed in a plane crash.
Now, the maker of cellular foam products in Plymouth, Wis., has named David Bolland, 37, president and chief operating officer, and Jason Hassel, 34, chief financial officer.
The healing process has just begun, officials said, but because of a solid succession plan, the company was able to continue operations and shipments.
``Obviously, this is a tragedy beyond anyone's imagination,'' spokesman Alex Miller said in a March 21 telephone interview.
Scott Roberts, 41, had been the company's president and co-owner. His brother, Vance Roberts, 49, shared ownership and was vice president of development and technical services. Mike Borzcik, vice president of operations, also was killed. He was 51.
The National Transportation Safety Board still is investigating what happened to the Beechcraft Baron 58, which Scott Roberts owned. Scott and Vance both were trained as pilots, but the plane that morning was under the control of contract pilot Paul Riddle. Riddle, also killed in the crash, was a certified flight instructor who had logged more than 11,400 flight hours, said NTSB.
Officials said Scott may have served as co-pilot on that flight, but ``we certainly don't have evidence to suggest one way or the other,'' Bolland said in a March 23 telephone interview.
``That plane did have a pilot and co-pilot's seat,'' he added.
The flight took off from Sheboygan County Memorial Airport in Sheboygan, Wis. The men were en route to a business meeting in Ohio when the plane crashed in Niles, Mich.
In the aftermath of the incident, members of the board were visible at the company, sending a signal to employees that the firm would stay family owned, officials said. The board members include patriarch Tec Roberts, who started the firm in 1978. He now is vice chairman of the board. Chairman Tom Testwuide now is chief executive officer.
Tec Roberts sold the company to his sons in 1998. It was that sale that initiated a succession plan, Bolland said.
At the ownership transfer, Tec Roberts set up a formal board that included three outside directors. Those directors offered new insight to complement the family perspective, Bolland said.
In September, Scott Roberts initiated a management restructuring, which Bolland said enabled Plymouth to handle such a crisis.
``They certainly never anticipated that something would happen to both of them at the same time,'' he said.
The wives of Scott and Vance, both named Diana, will continue ownership but will not be involved in day-to-day operations.
``It's been a little over a month since the tragedy, and the fact that we've received the confidence from customers and suppliers alike, we've continued to ship product to all our high standards, that's the best tribute we can pay to Scott and Vance,'' Bolland said. ``We had major negotiations going on with a customer in Canada [that Scott and Vance began]. Everyone at Plymouth Foam picked up the pieces and now the company is installing that piece of equipment in Canada.
``I guess the one thing you really realize when this happens is how much depth you have in an organization. That's been the ray of light.''