The Association of Rotational Molders on Nov. 3 inducted two rotomolding veterans — James Leitz and Daven Claerbout — as the newest members of its Hall of Fame during the Rotoplas conference in Rosemont.
Leitz was ARM president when the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks forced the group to cancel the trade show part of Rotoplas that year and postpone the conference sessions for four months.
“This is really a great honor to be recognized by your peers, and to be included in the company of all these past honorees,” said Leitz, marketing vice president at Gregstrom Corp. in Woburn, Mass.
Leitz's career began in 1965 at injection molder Mack Molding Co. Inc. From there, in 1968, he went to Celanese Plastics in the film and sheet group. Both positions were in sales and marketing.
He got into rotomolding in 1973, becoming vice president of Bayhead Products Corp. in Dover, N.H. In 1989, he set up Gregstrom's rotomolding operation.
Leitz, who has served on several ARM committees, encouraged people to become active in the trade association. “There was never an ARM meeting that I attended at which I didn't learn something that would improve myself or my rotomolding operation. There was always one technique or cost-savings idea that I picked up at one of the sessions or informally in conversation.”
Daven Claerbout and his brother Carl Claerbout are co-owners of Dutchland Plastics Corp. in Oostburg, Wis. Their father, William Claerbout, bought the rotomolding operation in 1967. He died in 2008.
Daven credited their father and their mother, Nancy, with building the company and fostering good corporate citizenship. She was unable to attend the ARM event, but the family videotaped the ceremony for her to view later.
Nancy Claerbout played a key role behind the scenes at Dutchland.
“My mother — and a lot of you don't know this — had tremendous business sense. She had a love for her employees. And best yet, she had a love for her two sons that were helping run the family business with the rest of these employees,” said Daven Claerbout.
He credited Dutchland's 200-plus employees for the company's success: “These people don't work for us, they work with us. They are absolutely fantastic.”
Daven Claerbout introduced several key employees who attended the dinner, including his daughter Lindee Claerbout, director of marketing and customer solutions, and son William Claerbout, assistant rotomolding production supervisor.
“I'm a lucky man because I get to see my children every day,” he said.
Daven Claerbout, Dutchland's executive vice president of sales, has served on the ARM board of directors for 10 of the past 11 years. Over the years, he has held a number of leadership positions with the group, including two stints as ARM president.
In rotomolding circles, the brothers are legendary for their contrasting personalities. Daven joked about it in his acceptance speech: “Believe it or not, Carl and I are exact opposites. I'm the one that is kind of the smart aleck and Carl is the brains.
“I'm the more outspoken one and he's more quiet. But I'll tell you what, if you want a partner in business, if you want a partner in personal life, you're not going to find someone better than Carl Claerbout,” Daven said.