One plastic materials veteran has retired, but another has taken his place at O'Neil Color & Compounding.
The retiree is Mark Bruner, who's ending a 38-year plastics career, including the last 10 as president of Jasper, Tenn.-based O'Neil. Replacing him is Doug Borgsdorf, who joined sister firm Woodruff Corp. last year after a 14-year tenure at Plastics Color Corp.
O'Neil makes compounds and color and additive concentrates in Jasper and in Garfield, N.J. Woodruff is a maker of corrugated plastic packaging in Richmond, Ind. Borgsdorf now will be business unit director of both O'Neil and Woodruff. Both units are owned by plastic sheet supplier Primex Plastics Corp. of Richmond.
Bruner began his plastics career in 1976, selling polystyrene and polypropylene resin for Shell Chemical in the Midwest U.S. In a news release, he said that it's been “a great experience and honor leading O'Neil's growth over the last 10 years.”
Primex President Mike Cramer said in the release that Bruner “will surely be missed” and that his leadership “made a significant contribution to O'Neil's growth.”
Bruner's first plastics experience actually was not in selling material, but in buying it. He started buying PS for Zenith Electronics in 1973, shortly after graduating from Purdue University. Zenith used PS in cabinets for the TVs it produced.
“When our Shell sales guy said they were looking for people, I asked him to put my name in,” Bruner recalled in a recent phone interview. “Two or three weeks later I was selling for Shell.”
In addition to Bruner's decade spent at O'Neil, he also had a 13-year stint with Huntsman Chemical. Looking back at his career, he said one of the biggest changes in the industry has been technological advances in communication.
“An engineer used to want to meet face to face, but now they can go online and learn a lot about resins and compounds,” he said. “You still need that one on one at times, but the new technology can help you pick the right material.”
The number of resin suppliers also has been reduced in many markets. When Bruner began selling PS, there were at least eight major suppliers in North America and 13 in the region overall. By comparison, the market now is served by three PS suppliers.
“The number of suppliers for a compounder has been simplified, but I don't know if that's a good thing,” he said. “It can make negotiations more difficult.”