Don Evans, who founded custom injection molder Evco Plastics Inc. in 1964, died Feb. 12. He was 91.
Even when Evans stepped back from managing day-to-day operations, he remained a fixture at Evco's headquarters in DeForest, Wis. He continued to design plastic parts throughout his life.
"My father was a sharp businessman and whose passion for continuous innovation permeates throughout the whole company," said Dale Evans, Evco's president. "I'm proud to have had the privilege to work alongside him my entire career. His dedication and curiosity will be greatly missed."
Evans was one of the pioneers of injection molding who started a company after World War II.
During the war, he spent three years in the Navy. He was assigned to the landing ship crew, where one his main duties was to operate a Higgins boat — the craft that transported groups of soldiers and supplies to beaches during amphibious landings. He made five landings against Japanese forces.
After he was honorably discharged in 1946, his passion for drawing and design led him to enroll in the engineering program at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. During this time, he met and married Joan Zeier. They were married for 69 years.
Don and Joan started in plastics in 1948, forming Evans Plastics with a couple of plunger machines. He learned how to design parts and build molds.
Evans' brother-in-law invested in the business and they formed Evans-Zeier Plastics in 1951, according to a Plastics News feature on Evco when the company won the 2015 Processor of the Year Award. Early parts were plastic pieces for refrigerators
When the partners disagreed on expansion — Evans wanted to expand — he agreed to sell his shares, according to the article. Then Evans started over in his basement in 1964, with a little half-ounce Giddings and Lewis plunger machine. Dale Evans recalled he was around 12 years old when he started running the press.
For the next 53 years, Don Evans watched his company grow, with the help of his sons and grandchildren. Today, Evco has nine locations in three countries, and runs more than 180 injection molding machines.