Oak Brook, Ill. — Portuguese blow molder Logoplaste SA is well-known for pioneering through-the-wall operations, co-locating blow molding plants in customers' plants.
Marcel de Botton received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Plastics Engineers' Blow Molding division, which honored the 92-year-old company founder at an Oct. 3 dinner during the group's annual conference.
De Botton was humble in his short acceptance speech. "It was a great surprise when I was informed about this Lifetime Achievement Award. I started wondering, why me? Why this award? And I understood that it had to with my work in plastics and age, I think," he said.
Thanking members of the division "for your kindness and for your tenderness," he also credited his colleagues at Logoplaste and his family, especially his wife, Huguette. They have been married for 63 years.
"If I look back to this very long journey of 60 years in the plastic business, I have only one word: Thank you, plastics. Thank you all for the joy and the happiness you gave me," de Botton said.
Conference attendees heard the story behind Logoplaste from his son, Filipe de Botton. He said his father came up with the plant-in-a-plant idea after the military coup in 1974 known as the Carnation Revolution.
Marcel de Botton and a partner had started a plastics operation in 1958, making PVC pill bottles that competed against glass, and it grew into a major company. But then, in 1974, Portugal underwent the Carnation Revolution. Plant workers took over management decisions, according to a company history. Marcel sold his share to his partner and got out.
Filipe de Botton explained his father's thinking that led to the through-the-wall idea: "So his company was taken over by the employees, and so he had to start again, from scratch. So he said, 'If I have to start the company, if I have to start a new business, probably if there is another revolution, I would not lose it again. So let's make some small factories in the plants, within the premises of my customers, because if we start those small plants and there's a new revolution, probably they won't take my company back. So maybe I will be able to save some assets for the future.'"
Marcel de Botton started Logoplaste from scratch, and like most businesspeople after the Carnation Revolution, he found it hard to get financing. In 1976, he connected with an investor who trusted his concept of locating fully integrated blow molding plants at his customer's operations. Logoplaste was born.
He bought his first machine and molded Yoplait yogurt containers and lids for Nestle. Today the company runs 59 plants in 16 countries and employs nearly 2,000. The company's North American headquarters is in Plainfield, Ill.
Filipe de Botton started working in the factory at age 14. All his friends were surfing and going to the beach, so he wasn't happy. But his father taught him a lot.
"So my whole life I've been smelling plastic," he said, as the audience of blow molders laughed.
Now, Filipe is chairman of Logoplaste.
"What can I say about a man who, in fact, taught me everything? He's a friend. He's a mentor," he said, turning to his father. "Thank you for teaching to work. Thank you for being my friend."