As 2016 winds down, the U.S. plastics machinery business remains healthy — part of the “real economy” that shrugged off the strangest, nastiest presidential campaign in the modern age. You got to eat. You need a new car. No matter who is president.
A blockbuster global deal kicked off the year. The state-owned China National Chemical Corp., known as ChemChina, said it was buying KraussMaffei Group, one of the world's biggest makers of injection molding machines and extruders. The price: $1.01 billion.
People are a big part of the news every year in plastics. In 2016, Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. went outside the industry to grab an Electrolux executive, Jack Truong, for its top spot. On New Year's Day, machinery veteran Gerd Liebig becomes CEO of Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Plastics Machinery GmbH. HPM North America promoted John Beary to president. Harold Luttmann became acting CEO of Athena Automation, as living legend Robert Schad began to transition — to what? — it's hard to imagine Schad lounging around in retirement….
SPI leader Bill Carteaux faced a challenge as he announced he was diagnosed with early-stage leukemia and was undergoing treatment. He remains as upbeat as ever, a personality he displayed in his machinery career at Autojectors and Demag Plastics Group.
A role model for hard work, Carteaux will need his enthusiastic energy next year to explain how a President Trump will impact U.S. manufacturing.
Engel Holding GmbH also made people news in 2016. Georg and Irene Schwarz, the husband-and-wife-team who led Engel Group for three decades, both died. On Dec. 1, Peter Neumann, Engel's longstanding CEO, turns the leadership over to young Stefan Engleder, one of the family-ownership's members.
At Bekum Maschinenfabriken GmbH, Michael Mehnert, the son of the founder Gottfried Mehnert, was named managing partner. He took over the management of Bekum's factory in Austria, where the blow molding press maker moved from its original home in Berlin.
And in business news, Ube Machinery Corp. Ltd. bought an 85 percent majority stake in Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.'s injection molding machinery business.
Safety standards made news in 2016. The mechanical drop bar was deemed not needed for new horizontal-clamp injection presses. And then a big one: starting Jan. 1, injection molding companies in Michigan need to update lock-out procedures, during mold changes, according to a rule handed down by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Happy New Year!
Milacron Holdings Corp. made it official: After years of ups and downs, it was moving manufacturing of its Ferromatik Milacron injection molding presses out of Malterdingen, Germany, to the Czech Republic.
Read on for a look at major events of 2015: