Tom Mohs, who founded packaging thermoformer Placon Corp. in 1966 and patented the first “clamshell” container in the U.S. market, died April 29 — about two weeks before Placon's 50th anniversary celebration.
Mohs, 77, died from complications of pneumonia.
Mohs started Placon in Madison, Wis., when he built a small thermoforming machine and began turning out plastic jewelry boxes. Within three years, he was getting orders from local cheese companies, and began to expand into food packaging.
Cheese packaging? It's Wisconsin.
Placon was exclusively a custom thermformer, until the 1980s, when a customer asked the company to design a small retail package for a major store to merchandise products on hooks. He added a hinge and a hang-hole, and Placon patented the clamshell container, called the BlisterBox. It took off and became the industry standard.
Placon also is a major force in using recycled PET, and the company also retooled to use PET as an alternative to PVC packaging. A closed-loop production facility was added in 2003, and Placon later came out with its EcoStar brand of plastic rollstock.
Placon expanded into medical packaging in Madison, and then bought Barger Packaging in Elkhart, Ind., to create one of the largest medical device thermoformed packaging companies in North America, according to a company history.
Placon moved into injection molding when it bought Plastic Packaging Corp. in West Springfield, Mass., in 2014, adding injected molded polyethylene and polypropylene containers, cups, tubs, pails and lids.
Today Placon remains a family owned company, run by Tom Mohs' son, Dan Mohs. The company employs about 500 people, at its headquarters plant, the medical division in Elkhart and the injection molding plant in West Springfield
Placon ranks as the 17th largest thermoformer in North America, according to Plastics News. In the newspaper's most recent ranking, the company generates thermoforming sales of $135 million.
Placon's May 12 anniversary celebration, “50 Years of Innovation: Celebrating Our Legacy, Inspiring Our Future” will also serve as an honor to Mohs at all of its locations on May 12.