Donald Dunn, founder of plastic sheet leader Plaskolite LLC, died Aug. 16 at age 98.
Dunn died at his home in Columbus, Ohio. He founded Columbus-based Plaskolite in 1950 as a maker of drinking straws.
By 1962, Plaskolite was focused on plastic sheet manufacturing, and Dunn built a new headquarters on Joyce Avenue in Columbus. The firm has remained there for 59 years, growing to become one of the largest sheet makers in North America. Plaskolite now employs more than 1,300 in 11 facilities around the world.
"A business is many things," Dunn said in 2012. "It carries the hopes and dreams of its founder, the sum total of years of effort and exhausting hard work.
"It is the lifeblood of its employees, whose families' needs are met by the paychecks they bring home. It must be a partner in the community and a leader in the industry," he said.
In a news release, Plaskolite Chairman Mitchell Grindley said that Dunn "was a leader of men, an inspiration to anyone who knew him, a respected businessman, a beloved family man, and a friend and mentor to me."
"His influence is felt in everything we do as a company," Grindley added. "The Plaskolite culture of hard work, sacrifice, respect for others, and love of family is a direct reflection of Donald. That will never change."
Dunn earned a Purple Heart and Silver Star for his actions on April 15, 1945, in the northern Apennine Mountains of Italy. As a staff sergeant in the 10th Mountain Division, Dunn led a U.S. Army platoon against fierce German resistance, officials said in the release.
While approaching the objective, Dunn was badly wounded by enemy sniper fire, they added, and "though suffering severely, was mindful only of the welfare of his men and the success of the mission by instructing his successor so capably that the assignment was fulfilled."
"We mourn the loss of Donald, who exemplified the character of the Greatest Generation," Plaskolite President and CEO Ryan Schroeder said. "He was tremendously proud of the company and the people who work here.
"The Plaskolite family will honor him by continuing to follow the principles he instilled throughout the company."
Dunn was an active member of the Columbus community, most notably as board member of The Buckeye Ranch and a longtime supporter of St. Stephen's Community House. Along with supporting numerous other charities, in 2013, the Dunn family founded the Donald G. and Mary A. Dunn Chair of Modern Military History at Ohio State University.
Based on sales, Plaskolite is North America's 15th-largest film and sheet maker in Plastics News' 2020 ranking, with all of its sales from sheet. The firm has annual sales of $584 million.
Plaskolite has made 17 acquisitions in the last 13 years and has been majority owned by investment firm Pritzker Private Capital since 2018. The Dunn family, management and other co-investors also are part of Plaskolite's ownership group.
Products made by Plaskolite include sheet made for such products as signage and vending machine fronts. The firm serves a diverse customer base including distributors, OEMs and retailers.