The Plastics Hall of Fame welcomes 10 new members this week in Orlando, Fla. Plastics News profiles them all in this issue: Robert A. Malloy, H. Richard Landis, Jay L. Gardiner, H. Gunther Hoyt, Jobst U. Gellert, Thomas E. Brady, Robert P. Kittredge, Daniel W. McGuire Jr., Timothy W. Womer and Lawrence J. Broutman.
Congratulations to one of the largest-ever inductee classes. They share many things in common, character traits you've heard before, like hard work and dedication. But we are struck by how big a role is played by chance in many of these success stories. Plain old luck.
Tom Brady got in on the ground floor of PET soda bottles. Gunther Hoyt's German background got him a translating job for a screw and barrel maker that lasted three decades and took him around the globe. Bob Kittredge borrowed $5,000 from his dad and built a major packaging thermoforming business. Noted screw designer Tim Womer really wanted to be an architect. Dan McGuire wasn't sure about college until his dad got him a brutal summer job.
Jay Gardiner heard about plastics from a guy in his rock band, for Pete's sake!
That's why these stories are fun. How did these Plastics Hall of Famers make their early decisions? What role did fate, or just dumb luck, play?
But the real story is how they reacted. These 10 men took advantage of opportunities. They took risks. If they failed, they tried again.
Jobst Gellert racked up 825 patents. That's an amazing number. But consider this: How many ideas did Gellert have that didn't work out? Probably two or three times that number.
Every one of us has some luck — some good, some bad — in our working lives. Many people have been laid off at least one time. A few of the older Plastics Hall of Famers remember being kids in the Great Depression. Now we've made it through the Great Recession, which hit right in the middle of the last NPE. At this NPE, the first one in Orlando, we should applaud our own perseverance.
Now the manufacturing economy is stronger. Good things are happening. But as the new Plastics Hall of Fame class reminds us, good things are always happening. The trick is identifying the breaks and acting on them, not letting them slip by.
Hall inductee Robert Malloy is working to find a physical home for the Plastics Hall of Fame at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. The National Plastics Center in Leominster, Mass., used to have a good display, but it closed four years ago and moved to Syracuse University in New York.
Syracuse is doing a good job of collecting and cataloging artifacts. And the university website has good information on the Plastics Hall of Fame; see plastics.syr.edu/people.php. It also links to the Plastics Academy's site, at plasticsacademy.org/swp/index.php.
Malloy wants to house the Plastics Hall of Fame at UMass Lowell's new Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center. Visitors to NPE should check out the display of all 10 new inductees. Malloy also wants to display some artifacts, working to share items with Syracuse University.
When you say Cooperstown, N.Y., you think of the Baseball Hall of Fame. What if Lowell can make it happen for plastics?