Prischak was born in West Aliquippa, Pa., near Pittsburgh, and the family moved to a farm when he was 8 months old.
"I remember plowing behind a horse. We did not have a tractor in those days," he said in a telephone interview.
"One thing I always say — I learned one thing on a farm — and that was I didn't want to be a farmer. It was nothing but hard work," he said. "You had to get up by about 4:35 in the morning, go out and do all the chores. Then you went in and you got cleaned up and ate breakfast, then we walked about three miles to go to school. When I came to the city, working in a restaurant or a factory, that wasn't really work."
He attended Conneaut Valley High School, near Springboro, Pa., where he took vocational agriculture classes, including a machine shop course.
"They taught us the basics and that's where I got the desire to learn more," Prischak said. Asked if he had a talent for it, he said: "Well, I don't like to brag, but I like to be the best in everything I do, or I don't want to do it."
He graduated in 1946 and moved to Erie at age 18, where he worked bussing tables and other jobs. Before long he was hired at Erie Resistor Corp., one of the first companies in the United States to own an injection molding machine.
"That's where I got plastics in my blood. I was grinding scrap plastic for about two months. And then they wanted somebody to work in the tool room. That was before the days of apprenticeships," he said. "They taught me to run all the different machines, the grinders and the lathes and milling machines."
Then came a turning point. Prischak was earning 35 cents, and the company offered him a nickel raise. Top money was 45 cents an hour.
"I went to the boss and I said, 'Look, I think I deserve top money. I think I'm worth 45 cents an hour. I'm only making 40 cents.'
"So there were two partners, and one guy says, 'Well, I have to talk to my partner.' So the next day, he came back and he says: 'I talked to my partner. And he says no. We can't give you another nickel raise. 40 cents an hour is all we can pay you.' I said, 'Well if that's the case, I quit.'"
Prischak joked, "That's the reason toolboxes have handles. So you can close them up and walk away." In 1956, he and two partners founded Triangle Tool Co., which was the beginning of Plastek.
After years earning a reputation as an expert in the toolmaking sector, Prischak made the leap into injection molding in 1971.
"I think we started with nine injection molding machines for molding safety razors," he said. In those days, Prischak set the molds and started up all the presses.
"And then later on, we got a contract to do deodorant sticks. That's back before they had ovals — all of the deodorant sticks were round. We came up with a way of doing ovals, and we got a contract. And it was huge. We ordered 125 molding machines from Cincinnati [Milacron," Prischak said.
Soon Plastek Group was one of the largest plastics companies in Erie, which was already a hotbed of injection molding and tooling. Then Plastek went global, expanding to Europe, Brazil and Mexico.