Arthur Haag, a longtime plastics materials executive and inventor, died Jan. 18 at age 93.
Haag’s materials career spanned almost 70 years. He was born in Chicago and was the youngest son of a German mechanical engineer. In 1951, Haag earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He started his career in 1953 at Stauffer Chemical in Richmond, Calif., as a research and development manager and plant manager.
At Stauffer, Haag redesigned a titanium metal plant to produce hydrogen-related titanium trichloride.
In 1966, he developed his first business venture and founded PureChem Corp. in Richmond. While at PureChem, Haag co-developed new methods for making high-purity titanium trichloride utilizing special equipment — including ball mills, reactors and driers — that he had designed. Haag also was co-awarded four U.S. patents and multiple foreign patents.
The PureChem plant tripled in size and was a primary supplier of titanium catalysts to the fast-growing American plastics industry. In 1970, the firm was sold to Dart Industries. Haag managed all catalyst operations at Dart and later at Phillips Petroleum when the division was sold to them.
After retiring from Phillips, Haag in 1992 developed Purgex-brand purging compounds, a product aimed at assisting plastic processors. Through Purgex, he founded his most successful venture, Houston-based Neutrex Inc., where he served as president until 2021.
In a 2017 interview with Plastics News, Haag talked about the early days of Neutrex. “When I started Neutrex, it was a one-man operation,” he said. “I set up the lab, made the product and went on the road selling.
“The whole strategy was to prove that the product had good benefits to the molder,” he added. “Growth was slow at first, but now we’ve got 30 distributors and are selling around the world.”
Through Neutrex, Haag sponsored plastics research with scholars and universities, including the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he sat on the master thesis review panel. Even after retirement, Haag remained involved with Neutrex as chairman.
Neutrex officials said in a statement that Haag “always enjoyed meeting people and discussing plastics, chemicals and a wide variety of other subjects.”
“He had a rare combination of amiable communication skills and broad technical knowledge, which made him both an effective salesman and a respected teacher to many,” they added.
Haag enjoyed traveling the world with his wife, Karen, especially visiting Africa for photographic safaris, Australia to celebrate the new year and annual trips to Paris for his birthday. He is survived by his wife, five children, 14 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Haag’s son Ken Haag is operations manager at Neutrex, with his daughter Kathleen Jarvis serving as national sales director. “Our dad will be remembered as a kind and brilliant man, and a great leader and mentor to all of us at Neutrex,” they said in a statement.
“It’s because of [Arthur Haag] that Purgex has become a global leader,” Neutrex President Jason Pizcazotowski added. “We are committed to achieving his vision for the future.”