Packaging company VariBlend Holdings LLC, announced that its President and CEO Robert Brands died following an ATV accident while he was vacationing with his sons in Oklahoma.
“On behalf of the company, we would like to express our appreciation for all of the significant contributions that Robert had made. He was a seasoned and accomplished leader of integrity who was dedicated to his work and will be greatly missed, His drive to excellence, determination, respect for and commitment to our company will inspire and stay with us always. Above all else, we mourn his loss and extend our deepest sympathies to his wife and children during this difficult period,” said a statement from the board of VariBlend Holdings LLC.
The Greenville, S.C.-based company said that longtime owner and director Eric Lauerwald will serve as interim CEO.
Brands, 59, who lived in Stuart, Fla., had been president and CEO of VariBlend Dual Dispensing Systems since June 2014. The company is a manufacturer of custom blending, dual-dispensing technology.
He had a broad experience, working previously as president of the Lindal Group in the Americas, and as managing director of the personal care division of Rexam Plastics.
Rexam acquired Airspray NV in 2006 and under Brands' stewardship, the company delivered consistent double-digit growth. Airspray pioneered the use of mechanical, one-touch foam dispensers and foamers.
Brands was also an innovation consultant who co-authored two books with Martin Kleinman. “Robert's Rules of Innovation: A 10-step Program for Corporate Survival” was published in 2010. “Robert's Rules of Innovation II: The Art of Implementation,” was published in 2015.
“He was one of a kind. He was very innovation driven ... He always wanted to do the best that he could. He assembled the best team available and did everything by team building. People wanted to do the best that they could for him because he always had their back,” said Kleinman, who has known him since 1990.
He added that Brands cared deeply about his family, was constantly checking on them when traveling, and that a trip to Oklahoma was all about spending time with his sons.
“He had a global network of friends and colleagues, from the Pacific Rim to Europe to Florida,” said Kleinman, adding that he will be missed greatly.
Born and raised in the Netherlands, Brands earned a degree from HTS Eindhoven before emigrating to the U.S. He was an avid sailor, open-water diver and a licensed pilot of single-engine aircraft.
He leaves his wife Janice and two sons, Alex and Eric.
Aycock Funeral Home in Stuart is handling arrangements and a memorial service is planned Nov. 3.