Don Detenber, an appraiser and project manager at machinery firm Absolute Machinery in Worcester, is retiring after a 55-year career in the plastics industry.
Detenber earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Louisville, and entered the industry at DuPont Co. as a development chemist. He helped customers solve production problems.
After a decade with DuPont, he moved to Admiral Equipment Corp., a manufacturer of polyurethane foam processing machinery, then to United Shoe Machinery Co. as urethane product manager.
He then became vice president of sales for Lombard injection molding machines before the business was sold to Farrel Corp.
In 1971, Detenber established a manufacturers' representative business, initially called Detenber Sales and then Yankee Machinery. He sold new and used plastics equipment, representing brands such as Newbury, Wabash Metal Products, Thoreson-McCosh and Gatto.
Six years ago, Absolute Machinery President Nate Smith approached Detenber when the company's expanding business needed expertise to help in appraising and selling plastics equipment.
“Don has long been a mentor for young people entering the plastics manufacturing industry. I include myself among them,” said Smith, who has been friends with Detenber for more than 40 years. “No one knows more about plastics machinery than Don.”
Smith said Absolute Machinery plans to retain Detenber on special projects.
Detenber has successfully battled multiple myeloma for more than 12 years. His determination has led employees of Absolute Machinery to participate in the UMass Medicine Cancer Walk to raise money to cure the disease.
Detenber said he is motivated by the desire to spend time with his family, including three daughters, a son and six grandchildren.
“Whether it's the grandkids, my Native American artifact collection or following developments in the plastics industry, I enjoy life,” he said. “I just returned from Cape Cod last weekend and plan to visit Martha's Vineyard in a few weeks. Now I have more time to enjoy the things I am passionate about.”