E. Niles Kenyon, who led auxiliary equipment maker Conair Group from 1986-2004, died Sept. 12 in Vero Beach, Fla., surrounded by his family.
Kenyon was a sales executive in the titanium industry before working in plastics. He was Conair's president and chief operating officer. He was 78 and had been battling prostate cancer.
Kenyon was an advocate for plastics, serving as vice chairman of the board of the Machinery division for the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., now the Plastics Industry Association.
He was a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, earning a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering. Kenyon received the Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award from Penn State in 1996. He was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
While at Conair, Kenyon spearheaded the development of a comprehensive engineering partnership with Penn State, to speed the transfer of university-developed technology to the factory floor. In addition to supporting individual projects, Conair donated or loaned equipment and provided curriculum support in an effort to channel industry support in a university setting.
Colleagues remember Kenyon as an outgoing man who played a key role with Conair.
"Niles traveled widely all over the world with me on behalf of Conair when the plastics industry was becoming more global," said Vince Witherup, who was responsible for international sales for Conair. "He was a tremendous man, and this is a great loss for his family and his colleagues."
Don Walmsley owns Plastic Systems Inc. and worked with Kenyon for many years as a sales representative. "He had a charisma that made him a natural leader. His personality was what drew people to him, but it was his ability to connect with those people that led to his success," Walmsley said.
Kenyon is survived by his wife, Jayne, sons Todd and Troy and six grandchildren — along with his beloved Portuguese Water Dog, Millie.