David Bestwick, chairman of Tray-Pak Corp. of Reading, Pa., and a longtime industry innovator, is SPE's 2009 Thermoformer of the Year.
He will be honored by the Society of Plastics Engineers' Thermoforming Division during NPE2009, in June in Chicago.
Bestwick launched Tray-Pak in 1975 when he and some partners acquired the thermoforming operations of W.R. Grace & Co. of Columbia, Md. Since then, Bestwick and his company have been in the forefront of the thermoformed packaging industry.
Tray-Pak started with 11 machines and 36 employees making cookie and candy trays. In 1977 Bestwick introduced high-impact polystyrene trays for mushrooms to the market. Today about 95 percent of mushrooms come in HIPS trays, he said.
They were all in corrugated containers and we showed them that we could add a day or a day and half of shelf life, Bestwick said in a May 28 telephone interview.
He also was involved in the early development, in the 1980s, of the crystalline PET dual ovenable tray. In the 1990s, Bestwick worked with building sustainable packaging, thermoforming post-consumer PET.
Today Tray-Pak employs 250, operates 44 thermoforming lines in nearly 200,000 square feet of space and offers design, in-house toolmaking, computer numerically controlled and AutoCad technology, rapid prototyping and digital scanning.
Bestwick was born in Grove City, Pa. He graduated from Grove City College in 1957 with a business degree and started his career as a salesman for General Fireproofing. By 1967 he acquired his first business, Business Equipment and Supply, and later sold it to a partner. Soon after, he launched Tray-Pak and bought out his Tray-Pak partners in 1981.
The firm converts materials that include PS, polypropylene, high and low density polyethylene, PET, PVC and coextruded and laminated materials. Its markets range from food service to automotive, consumer, electronic, health and beauty, industrial, medical and pharmaceutical.
In 2003 with the help of the late Scott Bestwick, Tray-Pak launched Fusion-Pak, which marries the graphic capabilities of printed board to the flexibility of thermoformed packaging. Fusion-Pak eliminated the need for a box and was awarded the 2009 American Design Award from Graphic Design USA magazine.
We are very honored, Bestwick said about being SPE's Thermoformer of the Year. It's not just for me, but it is for my people. If it was not for them, I'd never receive this award. I've been in the industry for 34 years, but [the award] came as a great surprise.
Tray-Pak serves its customers best by working with new materials, he said. The firm installed a new clean room in the past year.
Bestwick has received various awards including from the Pennsylvania Department of Commerce Award and the Ben Franklin Technology Group. He is a member of SPE and the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.
George Lueken, the owner of Mullinix Packaging Inc. of Fort Wayne, Ind., was the 2008 Thermoformer of the Year.