Robert A. Hoffer Sr., who built Hoffer Plastics Corp. into a major U.S. custom injection molder and was known for his philanthropy, died Feb. 21 at age 87. His health had been declining for more than a year, his family said.
Hoffer was involved in many causes. Hoffer Plastics was a major contributor to the National Plastics Center in Leominster, Mass., home of the Plastics Hall of Fame. He donated $40,000 for the first Plastivan for the museum's school outreach program.
His two sons are executives at Hoffer Plastics: William is president and Robert Jr. is executive vice president. William described his father as energetic and enthusiastic. ``He loved to get involved in many things. He was kind of a renowned fund-raiser in this area,'' he said.
Robert Hoffer was chairman of the first board of trustees at Elgin Community College. In the mid-1960s, he organized six local plastics firms to start an injection molding apprenticeship there - a pioneering effort in worker training. He also contributed to the plastics program at Purdue University.
Gordon Lankton, co-chairman of injection molder Nypro Inc. in Clinton, Mass., enjoyed a 45-year friendship with Hoffer. ``Bob Hoffer was a spectacular person,'' Lankton said. ``In my opinion, he's the heart and soul of our industry.''
Hoffer was president and chairman of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. during the 1973-74 term. He entered the Plastics Hall of Fame in 1997.
He had technical smarts and a good partner - his wife, Helen. He earned a chemistry degree from Purdue in 1941, then took a sales position with DuPont Co. He moved to GE Plastics in 1949.
In 1953, with the financial backing of the owners of Nylon Molded Products in Garrettsville, Ohio, Hoffer moved a press from Garrettsville to a garage in South Elgin and started Hoffer Plastics.
In their first week in business, the husband-and-wife team personally made 250,000 nylon twist sticks for roll-on deodorant dispensers. After building the business for a year, they bought out Nylon Molded's owners.
Today Hoffer Plastics employs 310 and runs 94 injection presses. Its markets include automotive, communications, home products and packaging.
Lankton said Hoffer was an open book. ``There's nobody else like Bob Hoffer. He would share information with anybody. He was always pushing our industry in a selfless way - just a very great guy,'' he said.