This week at NPE 2006, eight new members will enter the Plastics Hall of Fame. Plastics News is proud to profile them in this issue.
If you're reading this in McCormick Place on Monday of the show, you still have time to buy tickets for tonight's event, since the induction banquet this NPE has been moved up to Monday evening, not Thursday as in the past.
Putting the Plastics Hall of Fame event on the first night of NPE was a good move. Everyone will be fresher, and attendance should be higher.
The Plastics Academy made another major change - opening up the Plastics Hall of Fame to international industry leaders. In the past, the rules limited hall membership to U.S. citizens. That precluded some worthy candidates.
We congratulate the first crop of non-U.S. citizens to enter:
* Robert Schad, who founded Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. in Canada. A well-rounded man who excels at designing new injection molding technology and has become a well-known environmental activist, Schad is a well-deserving candidate.
* Georg Menges, the longtime head of Germany's respected IKV plastics school, the Institut fur Kunststoffverarbeitung, in Aachen. IKV does groundbreaking research, much of it in machinery, that has propelled the entire plastics industry forward.
* Dieter Freitag of Bayer AG, who developed the type of polycarbonate used to make CDs. The process of injection molding CDs, and recordable CDs and DVDs, remains one of the most challenging plastics applications, and Freitag kicked it all off.
* Gottfried Mehnert, founder of Berlin-based blow molding machinery company Bekum Maschinenfabriken GmbH. An unassuming man, Mehnert is responsible for many blow molding innovations still in use today.
Of course, the U.S. inductees are extraordinary, too:
* Peter Bemis of Bemis Manufacturing Co., one of the leading U.S. companies in injection molding and extrusion. Bemis sets an example in so many ways: by developing coinjection molding and other innovative technologies, for leadership in industry associations and for working well with designers.
* Pak-Wing "Steve" Chum, the chief scientist of plastics at Dow Chemical Co. His story is inspiring. A young man of modest means who came from Macau to study in the United States, Chum has succeeded through hard work and excellent people skills - important in a big industrial company like Dow.
* Jack Koenig, who developed spectroscopy, or the use of light to identify and study polymer molecules, first at DuPont Co. and then during a long career at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He played a major role in the instruments used in plastics laboratories around the world.
* Jack Welch of General Electric Co., an internationally known executive whose books are business best sellers. How many people know that Welch is a chemical engineer? Welch has compared the plastics operation of the 1960s to a family business, a fun group that encouraged risk-taking and celebrated victories - a principle Welch later apply to all of General Electric, shaking up GE's corporate culture.
Enjoy the stories in this issue. But more importantly, don't miss the chance to meet these living legends in Chicago tonight.