After more than 40 years as president and chairman of Welex Inc., Frank Nissel is retiring, but the 84-year-old extrusion guru won't be playing golf jazz and baroque music are his hobbies.
I need to take a little more time to relax, and I don't want to be a boss that comes in at 10 or 11 and leaves at 2. It sets a bad example, he said.
Nissel announced his retirement, effective at the end of the year, at a Nov. 15 meeting of employees of Welex, a sheet extrusion-line maker based in the Philadelphia suburb of Blue Bell, Pa. Production is done at a Welex factory in Greenville, N.C.
Nissel has kept up a busy pace, and he has a reputation as one of the flamboyant characters of the plastics machinery industry. He manned Welex's booth at the K 2010 trade show in Dusseldorf, Germany, which ran Oct. 27 to Nov. 3. In September, he gave a presentation about the economics of sheet extrusion at the Society of Plastics Engineers Thermoforming Conference in Milwaukee.
He became a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association in 1990 and was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame in 2000. He has won several SPE awards for business management and service to SPE's Extrusion Division. He has obtained more than 40 patents.
His plastics career began at Union Carbide Corp. in 1946, where Nissel shared an office for a few years with extrusion legend Bruce Maddock.
After a decade at Carbide, Nissel left to co-found an extruder maker called Prodex Corp. in Fords, N.J., with his partner Al Kaufmann. They made advancements in machinery for sheet and profile extrusion.
The partners sold Prodex to Koehring Corp., which also owned machinery maker HPM Corp.
Nissel joined John G. Hendrickson, whose family owned twin-screw extruder maker Welding Engineers Inc., and they started Welex, which became a major force in the sheet market.
I have truly enjoyed each of my 43 years at Welex. Each year brought new challenges, customers, advances and excitement. I am very thankful to the Hendrickson family, the owners of Welex, for the opportunities and freedom given to me in the management of Welex, Nissel said. He also thanked Welex employees.
Welex officers include Wayne Lewis, who has been president since 2007; Hayes F. Stripling III, vice president of sales; and Michael Mitchell, vice president and engineering director.
Retirement from Welex will give Nissel more time for music. He developed a passion for jazz as a young man in the 1950s, hearing legends like Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane at the Village Vanguard and other New York jazz joints.
Nissel documents jazz performances as the official videographer of The Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University. He also is a member of four baroque music societies in the Philadelphia area.