Joan Holland, co-founder and chairman of the board emeritus at resin distributor M. Holland Co., died Sept. 8 at age 91.
"Joan's passing is a deep and immense loss for the Holland family — and one felt across the entire M. Holland family and broader plastics industry," officials with M. Holland in Northbrook, Ill., said Oct. 1 on the company's website.
"While it is with great sadness that we mourn her passing, we also celebrate her life and the accomplishments and contributions that have shaped M. Holland Co. and will continue to guide the company for years to come," they added.
Marvin and Joan Holland founded the firm in 1950 from their apartment in Chicago with $600 she had saved. A corner of their dining room doubled as M. Holland Co.'s first headquarters. That operation consisted of a typewriter, which they borrowed from Joan's father's office, sitting on a card table gifted to them by Joan's aunt for their wedding.
"They couldn't have known then the kind of legacy they were building, one that would withstand an ever-evolving industry and remain a family business for 70 years," officials said.
They added that Holland lived by three abiding principles: positivity, resilience and community.
"Choose to be happy," was a favorite saying, officials noted. "You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to it."
Officials added that the importance Holland placed on family helped cultivate M. Holland Co.'s "nurturing, familylike culture."
"She wanted to ensure everyone felt respected, supported and as if they were part of the M. Holland family," they said. "Like her husband, Marvin, she wanted to create a company built on integrity that held people at the core of every decision."
Joan Holland also was active in philanthropy and was the first chairwoman of Israel Bonds USA – Chicago. She was also very active with several other institutions, including the Jewish United Fund and Solomon Schechter School. The Holland family is still very involved with the Friends of the Refugees of Eastern Europe (FREE) program.
Born in 1929 in Chicago, she met Marvin Holland early in life when they would carpool to school together with her mother's cousin. When Marvin was 19, he left to fight in World War II. Upon his return, he asked Joan out, and by their third date, they were engaged.
While at DePaul University, Marvin worked at a local injection molder to make extra money, while Joan also worked and saved money. After Marvin completed his degree, the two were married. They used the $600 Joan Holland saved to start M. Holland Co.
Joan would handle the phones while Marvin managed operations. After Marvin's death at age 70, Joan assumed the role of chairperson of M. Holland Co. Officials said she became "a strong voice of the company and a driving force for all who heard her speak."
Joan Holland is survived by five children, nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Her son Ed is M. Holland's president and CEO. The firm now ranks as one of North America's largest resin distributors, selling more than $1 billion of materials to more than 4,000 customers annually.
"As a company, we will be forever grateful to Joan's unwavering commitment and dedication to M. Holland," officials said. "Her contributions will be forever entrenched in its legacy, and she will be greatly missed."