Hopkinton, Mass. — Robert Fulton, the founder of Web Industries, a material converter and contract manufacturer serving aerospace and other industries, died Nov. 18. He was 86.
Fulton started the business in 1969 in a rented basement near Boston with $10,000 of seed money and Kimberly-Clark as an early customer for non-woven products. Through innovation and risk, Web developed expertise with composites and specialty films and is now a $160 million, Marlborough, Mass.-based enterprise that counts Boeing and Airbus among its clients for carbon fiber skins.
With the belief that Web's employees are its biggest company asset, Fulton implemented an employee stock ownership plan in 1984 that achieved 100 percent employee ownership in 2000. He called the ESOP "the best thing I ever did" in a recent interview with Plastics News.
In the same interview, Web CEO Donald Romine described Fulton, who retired in 1991 but stayed active with the board, as "quite fearless in his vision and willingness to take risks to optimize the company's potential. He had an unselfish desire to share the credit and the value of the company he built with his employees."
Fulton also was involved with outreach ministries, business mentoring programs and numerous charities. A memorial service will be held Dec. 9 at Faith Community Church, Hopkinton.