CHICAGO (June 28, 3:20 p.m. EDT) — During the most international Plastics Hall of Fame induction yet, GE Plastics' top executive, Charlene Begley, said globalization makes the industry stronger.
During a June 19 keynote speech at a dinner honoring the eight new members, she said plastics companies need to use the best “global brains to solve our toughest problems.”
“Globalization of both suppliers and processors means a vibrant industry, global knowledge sharing and a bright future for all of us in here tonight,” said Begley, GE Plastics' president and chief executive officer.
The Plastics Academy, which administers the hall of fame, changed the rules to open it up to non-U.S. citizens. Four of the eight inductees are from outside the United States: Robert Schad, founder of Canada-based Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd.; Die-ter Freitag of Germany, a polycarbonate pioneer at Bayer AG; Gottfried Mehnert, a German blow molding expert who founded Berlin-based Bekum Maschinenfabriken GmbH; and Georg Menges, longtime managing director of the IKV plastics institute in Aachen, Germany.
The Plastics Hall of Fame is housed at the National Plastics Center in Leominster, Mass.
Several inductees mentioned the new, global Plastics Hall of Fame in their acceptance speeches in Chicago.
Schad said the move to allow non-U.S. citizens makes sense, so the Plastics Hall of Fame reflects reality. He recalled an early machinery industry meeting where U.S. manufacturers made it clear that outsiders were not welcome. Many of their companies no longer exist.
“It's not closed anymore, and we have to compete globally,” Schad said.
Another inductee, Pak-Wing Chum, a U.S. citizen, was born in Macau. He came to the U.S. to study chemistry, and today is chief scientist of plastics at Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, Mich.
Chum, who said he is the first person of Asian descent to enter the hall, dedicated his award to all Asians working in the plastics industry today.
Other inductees are: Peter Bemis, co-owner of Bemis Manufacturing Co. in Sheboygan Falls, Wis.; Jack Koenig, a pioneer in spectroscopy who taught at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland; and Jack Welch, the world-renowned former CEO of General Electric Co. Welch started out at GE Plastics.
Menges was unable to make the trip from Germany because of an illness. Accepting the award for him was Walter Michaeli, who replaced him as head of IKV.
Welch also did not attend the ceremony. Begley accepted on his behalf.
Also, BASF Corp. received the Distinguished Service Award for contributions to plastics education in kindergarten through grade 12. BASF of Spartanburg, Tenn., sponsors the National Plastics Center's PlastiVan program.
In her keynote speech, Begley laid out a strategy to keep plastics strong.
“I believe that we grow this industry if we accept three mandates: We must be greener, we must embrace technology and we must be global. I believe that the future belongs to the companies that are quickest to find value in being environmentally friendly, who are the smartest about investing in technology, and who are the most open to reaping the benefits of the sharpest minds around the globe,” Begley said.