People &
Mark Courtright headshot
Mark Courtright has announced his plan to retire mid-year in 2021. He has been with Interstate Plastics for 26 years and served as president for the last six years. In addition, Courtright has served on the IAPD Board of Directors and Executive Committee.

According to Interstate Plastics, “Mark’s influence and significance on Interstate Plastics cannot be understated. He has dedicated his years with Interstate Plastics in building a competitive, integrity focused and forward-thinking organization. His impact will be felt for years to come and will be maintained thanks to his determined effort in developing a solid company culture for those that are not so lucky as to retire just yet.”

The next few months of transition will see several organizational changes at Interstate Plastics. Larry Chavez, currently the company’s CFO, will assume the title of president. Mike McKenna, currently sales development manager, will assume the role of general manager with branch management oversite. Many of the additional duties and activities currently under Courtright’s purview will be delegated to Chavez and McKenna as is appropriate as well as to John Schwenck in his role as director of corporate operations.

Chris Kietzke headshot
Chris Kietzke was named chief marketing officer, executive shareholder, for Professional Plastics. In his new role, he is responsible for the strategic direction and leadership of the company’s marketing efforts, including eCommerce tools.

Kietzke joined the company in 1984 and has held a variety of positions in sales, marketing and management. His significant contributions include the company’s entry into the polymides market, opening its Texas and Asia locations and establishing effective international marketing tactics. He was instrumental in the development of its CRM software and launched the company’s first eCommerce website, both of which he still oversees and continues to adapt in line with the evolving market. In addition to his chief marketing officer role, Kietzke will also continue in his capacity as executive director of Asia, as well as his advisory role as a corporate board member and executive shareholder.

“Chris is committed to the future growth of the company and will continue to expand and enhance our marketing and eCommerce efforts in his new role,” said Dave Kietzke, Professional Plastics CEO and chairman of the board.

Ashfaq Chowdhury headshot
Cast Nylons Ltd. appointed Ashfaq Chowdhury senior director of research and development and advanced engineering. Chowdhury will lead the Cast Nylons process engineering team and focus on operational excellence and new materials development. He brings a wealth of R&D and engineering leadership expertise to this role. Chowdhury is a 20-year veteran of GE. Throughout his career there, Chowdhury has successfully led high-performance teams through the development and scale up of major technology platforms for volume manufacturing resulting in 29 issued U.S. patents. Chowdhury holds a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.
Jacob Haas headshot
PLASKOLITE named Jacob Haas chief commercial officer effective December 28, 2020. Haas will oversee sales, marketing and customer service functions. He reports to CEO Ryan Schroeder.

Haas brings 20 years of sales and marketing experience to the company, most recently as global vice president of sales and marketing for Sun Hydraulics, where he was responsible for sales, product management, pricing, customer service, marketing and application engineering. Haas also spent time with Parker Hannifin and 3M in various sales and marketing leadership roles, including two years with 3M in Hong Kong on an expatriate assignment growing their Asia Pacific traffic safety business.

“I value the diverse global experience Jacob brings to our organization and look forward to the new perspectives he will offer and the positive impact he is sure to have on our sales and marketing efforts,” Schroeder said. “His proven success in earning mindshare in competitive distribution channels is a differentiator and will help us accelerate our growth plans.”

Haas has worked extensively in distribution and with OEMs, improving the customer experience and delivering innovative new products — areas that will continue to be a focus in his role as CCO.

“PLASKOLITE’s reputation speaks for itself, and I am excited to add to the success of the organization in any way I can,” Haas said. “It is rare to find a company in such a strong leadership position that still possesses significant room for growth. I look forward to working with Plaskolite’s outstanding leadership team to actualize that growth potential.”

Haas holds a Bachelor of Science in marketing and an MBA from the University of Minnesota.

Mark Casey headshot
Professional Plastics promoted Mark Casey to president of the company’s North American businesses and affiliates. Casey is a plastics industry veteran with more than 37 years of experience. Since joining Professional Plastics in 2002, Casey has progressed in roles showcasing his in-depth industry knowledge, effective business strategies and strong leadership abilities. He began by establishing and expanding the company’s East Coast operations, then managing sales and, most recently, overseeing branch operations, sales, fulfillment and supply chain functions in North America as executive vice president. He made an outstanding impact leading the company through the obstacles of 2020, yielding overwhelming success during a difficult time. Casey is a Professional Plastics shareholder and active member of the Board of Directors. In addition, Casey previously served as IAPD president and board member.

“Mark’s new position reflects his pivotal role within the company,” said Dave Kietzke, Professional Plastics CEO and chairman of the board. “I am confident his leadership as president of North America will ensure continued growth and success.”

Payton Rushing headshot
The Tandem Group (TTG) announced that Payton Rushing has joined the company as their new inside sales specialist. She will be responsible for managing customer accounts and relationships and supporting customers throughout their purchasing experience. Previously, Payton was an office manager at Hudapack Metal Treating. “The Tandem Group is continuing to invest in our sales and administrative services to support our growth,” said Brian Olson, president. “We are committed to providing customers with the dedicated focus and quality of services they have relied on from us for decades.”
Derek Publicover headshot
Derek A. Publicover joined Cast Nylons Ltd. as chief commercial officer in November 2020. He will be focused on driving market demand for Cast Nylons’ products and services globally. Publicover joined Cast Nylons after 20 years with General Electric, where he held roles of increasing responsibility in the United States and Canada. Publicover is a graduate of Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS, Canada.
Scott Brushwyler headshot
After 30 years with Professional Plastics, Scott Brushwyler is moving in a new direction after accepting a promotion to supplier quality specialist. Brushwyler joined Professional Plastics early on and has succeeded in various roles as the company has evolved. He most recently supported the company’s growth by working in sales, which will help him greatly in his new position.

In the supplier quality specialist role, Brushwyler will work with the company’s value-added vendors in Southern California to ensure customer requirements are met. He will also work closely with the sales team to review value-added quotes and provide an efficient, streamlined process with an outstanding customer experience.

“Scott will be in familiar territory working closely with the sales,” said Jeremy Kietzke, director of corporate operations. “His extensive experience and dedication will be invaluable in his new position on the quality team.”

Shane McDaniel headshot
Asahi/America, Inc. announced the addition of Shane McDaniel to its business development team. McDaniel joined the company on January 4, 2021 as business development manager for actuation products. He brings a diverse set of skills and experience with him to Asahi/America, ranging from instrument and controls technician to outside sales, as well as aftermarket sales and service. He will work closely with the company’s sales and engineering teams to further promote Asahi/America’s actuation product line across a variety of industries in the United States. McDaniel resides in the greater Houston, TX, USA area.
Zach Jacobs headshot
Professional Plastics promoted Zach Jacobs to sales manager in Seattle, WA, USA. Jacobs is responsible for executing a business plan in the Seattle territory to meet the company’s business objectives. His new responsibilities include managing the Seattle sales team, closing new business, increasing margins and representing the overall product line on behalf of Professional Plastics.

After four successful years on the company’s sales team, Jacobs is well-positioned for his new management role. His sales background, knowledge of the company’s product portfolio and experience in the Seattle market are valuable additions to the company’s management team. Jacobs said, “I am excited to take on a leadership role with the sales team in Seattle and make a positive impact on the company’s success.”

Jeff Gaerte headshot
Jeff Gaerte joined Professional Plastics as national market development manager. Gaerte’s efforts will concentrate on the four primary markets of heavy equipment, agriculture, food processing and conveyance on a national level.

Gaerte brings a wealth of experience to his new role, including more than 25 years in the plastics industry. Throughout his career, he has served in a variety of management, sales and operations roles in both the manufacturing and distribution sectors of the business. He will use his vast experience in strategic planning, business development and implementing sales objectives in his new position.

Gaerte is eager to focus on the industrial vertical markets in North America and provide value-added solutions using engineered plastics. He said, “I am excited to come back to the plastics industry and use my OEM, application and material knowledge to grow the industrial market with Professional Plastics.”

Mike Jermolowicz headshot
Polymer Industries appointed Mike Jermolowicz to lead the Western United States region. Jermolowicz has been a proven leader as the Midwest regional manager for Polymer Industries since 2019. His leadership will accelerate the company’s progress toward providing continued support for the Western region.

Prior to Polymer Industries, Jermolowicz’s experience includes more than 20 years in the plastics injection molding industry where he focused on highly engineered insert molded plastic components for automotive and aerospace applications. Jermolowicz’s organizational capabilities and marketing strategy for the Midwest region has consistently delivered results. He will continue to oversee sales for the Midwest and the Western region until a successor is named for the Midwest region. While maintaining both territories, Jermolowicz will begin his duties in the West immediately and will be based in Phoenix, AZ, USA.

“Mike’s experience will further enhance our focus in the Western United States. We are excited about the expertise and dedication he provides to our customers,” said Rohit Saigal, vice president of sales and marketing for Polymer Industries.

Curbell Plastics HQ
Curbell Plastics, Inc. moved their film conversion operations into a new state-of-the-art facility in Raynham, MA, USA. The new Curbell Films New England facility features an improved racking system and other amenities. The new layout allows for a larger inventory of thin gauge materials to shorten product lead times and conversion turnaround. Curbell Films New England Operations Manager Douglas Mauro looks forward to the experience new and existing customers will have. “I’m excited for the future for all of our customers,” Mauro said. “This new facility doubles the space and removes old capacity constraints that squeezed us in the past. We look forward to exceeding customer expectations from this new building.” Curbell Films New England provides conversion services such as sheeting, slitting and guillotining for industrial applications, printing and graphics needs and more.
old Redwood Plastics location
An early Redwood Plastics location.
Redwood Plastics and Rubber is celebrating its 50th year in business in 2021. The company got its start in 1971 when two brothers, Duncan Fraser and Graeme Fraser, ages 23 and 18 respectively, decided to follow in their father’s footsteps and open a plastics manufacturing business. With a $2,500 loan and space in their parents’ garage, Redwood Plastics on Redwood Street in North Vancouver, BC, Canada was born. Today the company has multiple locations in Canada as well as sites in the United States.

The company has achieved strong, sustained growth over five decades and established a worldwide standing, introducing many new and innovative products for industry. Over the last 50 years, Redwood’s mission continues to focus on solutions for client needs, no matter what it takes.

“Reaching this remarkable moment is a testimony to the diligence and professionalism of our people, who devote their working lives to a company with a ‘family culture,’ said Graeme Fraser, CEO and president of Redwood Plastics and Rubber. “Our staff is treated with respect and is highly valued for the skills they bring to our team. Our employees are recognized and given the opportunity to grow with the company, adding to the excellence of its products and services. This dedication to quality has brought Redwood Plastics and Rubber international notoriety.” The company culture is based on giving back to its employees and their communities.

Redwood offers unique opportunities to reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle and is committed to 100 percent customer satisfaction. The year 2020 brought Redwood Plastics and Rubber to the forefront in serving many more customers, even saving lives by adapting innovative forms of optimal protective plastics to help the world continue to operate, even during a global pandemic.

Redwood has been active in mergers and acquisitions over the years, buying the assets of American Nylons in 1993, Excel Engineering in 1996 and BC Rubber in 2006, among many others. The Excel acquisition took Redwood into the steel fabricating business and the acquisition of BC Rubber expanded their product offering with sheet and molded rubber. In 2017, Redwood had a transformative year, amalgamating with Epic Polymers increasing their urethane and rubber manufacturing capabilities.

Redwood Plastics and Rubber HQ
Redwood Plastics and Rubber’s building in Langley, BC, Canada.
Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials’ Reading, Scranton and Delmont sites in Pennsylvania have invested in renewable energy certificates (RECs). As a result, all Pennsylvania locations now get 100 percent of electricity used in manufacturing from renewable sources, reducing the emissions associated with the generation of that electricity to zero.

Bruce Seidel, North American director of manufacturing at Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials, said, “This accomplishment is a fantastic stepping stone for us, as we continue to realize our vision of fully operating through clean energy in North America. Our commitment to our KAITEKI values is what drives us to continue to focus our efforts on energy reduction projects, and this monumental achievement at our Pennsylvania locations is a great testament to all of the hard work that our team has invested into making this a huge success.”

In addition to this announcement, the company is celebrating another milestone. Effective September 1, 2020, five of their North American sites have attained the Responsible Care® RC14001:2015® Certification, which includes ISO 14001:2015 Certification. Responsible Care® 14001 is the chemical industry’s global initiative, practiced in 52 countries, under which chemical companies work together to continuously improve their health, safety, environmental and security performance. It combines the elements of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) Responsible Care initiative with those of ISO 14001, the internationally recognized environmental management system standard.

Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials is the first of several Mitsubishi Chemical America (MCA) companies to be certified. Heidi Freeman, MCA regional manager for product stewardship and KAITEKI, stated, “This has certainly given all of us a boost of confidence, as multiple other group companies look ahead toward achieving their certification within the next few months.”

KAITEKI refers to “the sustainable well-being of people, society and our planet Earth.” It is an original concept of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Group that proposes a way forward in the sustainable development of society and the planet, in addition to serving as a guide for solving environmental and social issues.

James Kohler, corporate quality engineer and North American KAITEKI coordinator at Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials, said, “Our contributions to KAITEKI take shape in many different forms. I am proud of our North American teams for coming together, to realize KAITEKI through our shift toward 100 percent renewable energy procurement in Pennsylvania, and through our RC14001:2015® and ISO 14001:2015 Certifications. This is only the beginning, and I am very excited to see what we can keep accomplishing and improving in the near, and far, future.”

The Tandem Group (TTG), a national manufacturers’ representative firm, added two new vendors to its product line: Odin Heavy Industries (OHI), a manufacturer of engineered polymer solutions and ALUTEC®, a manufacturer of aluminum composite material.

Bing Carbone and Senator Blumenthal
Bing Carbone (on left) with Senator Blumenthal at Modern Plastics.
“We are pleased to announce our partnership with these two manufacturers who share our commitment to providing the highest quality products available,” said Brian Olson, CPMR, CSP and regional product specialist at TTG. “This is part of a strategic growth strategy, but it is more than just that. By expanding our line, customers have access to a much greater variety of materials solutions to meet their growing needs. And we anticipate adding more premium vendors in the coming months.”

On Monday, January 11, 2021, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) toured the Modern Plastics operations in Shelton, CT, USA. He was there specifically to see their personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturing, such as plastic face shields. According to President Bing Carbone, “The Senator was congratulatory of Modern Plastics for pivoting as we did in March of 2020 and impressed with our facility and manufacturing. He talked about the stimulus package and the need for the country to come together.”

Spartech announced the acquisition of Tufpak™, Inc., a manufacturer of custom and stock engineered plastic films designed for biohazard bags, medical devices and biopharma packaging.

“This acquisition expands our product line to include medical and biohazard plastic film capabilities with industry-leading packaging for biological, chemical, pharmaceutical and laboratory research applications,” said Spartech CEO John Inks. “We have always admired Tufpak’s focus on innovative plastic film development and are proud to welcome them to the Spartech team.”

“Tufpak was acquired by our father almost 29 years ago when the company was a commodity bag maker, but with my brothers, we expanded the company vision to become a manufacturer of functional products serving the more attractive technical market,” said Tufpak owner Mike Wadlinger. “By developing a proprietary film-making capability, we have been able to produce complex bag and film structures that satisfy the demanding requirements of multiple markets, most notably the regulated autoclave biohazard bag products used in clinical healthcare markets. We are excited to be part of the Spartech family that shares our dedication to technical development, quality and delivering outstanding results.”

Port Plastics is celebrating its 60th anniversary. The company, which began in 1961, was one of the first plastics distributors on the West Coast. From a facility once leased in Paramount, CA, USA, Port Plastics has come a long way since its beginnings. As it grew, building operations from the ground up, today, it employs 200 people in nine branches throughout the United States with new locations opening soon.

Former President Keith Eitzen, who played a crucial role in shaping Port Plastics into what it is today, credits the company’s longevity to several vital factors, including being in the right place at the right time. “Port’s continued success is due in great part to the caliber of the people who are a part of this organization — honest, hard-working employees, who are customer-centric. Our reputation is in our commitment to our customers. We have long-established alliances with top-tier manufacturers because of strong relationships forged decades ago,” he said.

GF Piping Systems announced the acquisition of FGS Brasil Indústria e Comércio Ltda. (FGS) in Cajamar, Brazil. As a manufacturer of polyethylene piping systems, FGS serves the local water and gas distribution market and other industrial segments. The acquisition will provide GF Piping Systems with a platform for growth in Brazil and the South American region.

Founded in 1997 and privately owned by two main shareholders, FGS became Brazil’s leading manufacturer of high-density polyethylene pipes (HDPE), fittings and additional equipment within a few years. After the inauguration of a new production site in Cajamar in 2013, a second plant opened in the Greater Recife/Pernambuco area in 2019. Since 2016, FGS has almost doubled its sales and has a workforce of 240 employees. Both parties have agreed not to disclose any financial details of the transaction. Closing is expected in the first quarter of 2021.

The acquisition of FGS is in line with GF Piping Systems’ strategy to expand its global presence in the fifth largest populated country in the world. Brazil is undergoing a major governmental initiative that includes the development of the country’s infrastructure, especially in the water and gas utility sectors. In cooperation with a domestic water utility company, FGS and GF were already part of a large water loss improvement program by replacing the São Paulo region’s piping network.

GF CEO Andreas Müller said, “We warmly welcome FGS and its employees to the GF family. The acquisition is a milestone in concluding our strategy 2020 and commencing the next strategy cycle. As a specialist in sustainable solutions for the safe transport of fluids and in reducing water losses, we are looking forward to realizing the growth opportunities together with FGS.”

FGS CEO Roberto Gadotti stated, “We are excited to join the GF family. This transaction will derive positive synergies and will provide a strong foundation that supports accelerated growth within numerous markets and product segments.”

Curbell Plastics, Inc. property entrance
Curbell Plastics, Inc. released a short video promoting their continued commitment to long held sustainability initiatives and their corporate stance on responsible plastics distribution. The video gives viewers a look into Curbell Plastics, what they do and the industries and applications they supply with performance plastics. The materials they supply are used in a wide variety of long-term applications such as machinery parts, orthotics and prosthetics and retail display cases. Depending on the application, performance plastics can outperform other materials in friction and wear, weight reduction and chemical and corrosion resistance. As an environmental leader in the responsible use of plastics, it is Curbell’s hope that this video encourages others to join them in thinking holistically about material selection and feel comfortable working with an organization that focuses on sustainable business and environmental practices. “Every day Curbell’s knowledgeable people use their expertise to help our customers navigate material selection, service needs, and delivery challenges while maintaining our commitment to reduce waste, pollution, and energy consumption,” the video shares. “In recent years, we have taken an even stronger stance to protect the environment by committing to reduce, reuse, and recycle; to educate others about performance plastics; and to advocate for sustainable material use.”
In Memoriam
Thomas M. King portrait
King Plastic Corporation (KPC) sadly announced that their founder, Thomas M. King, passed away at the age of 87. He will be remembered as an innovator and early leader in the plastic industry.

Tom started KPC in 1968 with a 7,500 square foot manufacturing plant in Venice, FL, USA. KPC became one of the first UHMW-PE producers in the United States. Tom’s first innovation was in the 1980s with the development of a continuous thick sheet extrusion process dubbed “K-Stran” that produced a low strain sheet.

By 1987, Tom and his son, Jeff King, were experimenting with King CuttingBoard® to make fish tables to replace deteriorating plywood fish tables at the marina where they kept their boat. By adding white pigment with a UV package to the material, they created a great-looking, long-lasting fish cleaning table.

From there, Jeff suggested to Tom they replace the teak rod holders with the same material. The results were so good, they began replacing other teak parts. They soon realized they had created a special product for the marine industry. Now, all it needed was a name. Tom’s wife Judy suggested StarBoard®, and the product officially launched in 1988.

Tom and Jeff continued to explore more innovations and refinements to their product lines in the 1990s. New products included a lightweight HDPE called King StarLite XL® and an anti-slip sheet. KPC also developed a KPC Poly-Fusion Process producing a multi-layered thick sheet. That process led to greater improvements for engraving outdoor signs.

Tom will be remembered as someone whose innovations and leadership brought King Plastic to its current position in the plastics industry. As his grandson Charlie King noted, “Tom King was the true embodiment of the true American entrepreneurial spirit.” Tom’s spirit is now being carried on by his son Jeff King, president of King Plastic Corporation, and Jeff’s sons Charlie and Steven who continue to build on the legacy of leadership and innovation started so many years ago by Tom King. For those who knew him well, Tom will be remembered best as Judy’s wonderful husband of 67 years, a great father to Debbie, Sally and Jeff and an inspiring leader.

Carol K. Wagner headshot
Carol K. Wagner passed away on Sunday, January 24, 2021, in Salt Lake City, UT, USA. She was born March 20, 1933, in Bingham, UT, USA to Michael Zezza Conners and Annie Merle Webb Conners. She graduated from West High School in 1951 where she was a student body and class officer and West’s delegate to Utah Girls State. She married her high school sweetheart Lynn J. Wagner on December 18, 1952 in the Salt Lake Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) Temple. They recently celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary. Carol is survived by her husband Lynn, four children, 15 grandchildren and five great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, her son Jeffrey, sister Billie and beloved twin brother, Dr. C. Keith Conners.

The family moved to Leawood, KS, USA in 1975, and she quickly became a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs football team. She continued a career in association management which she began as executive secretary of the Consulting Engineers Council of Utah and went on to become the executive director of the International Association of Plastics Distribution.

Carol and Lynn moved back to Utah in 1996 and retired in Sandy, UT, USA to be close to family. Carol was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and enjoyed her service in the Crescent 8th Ward with Lynn. She belonged to the Logslide Camp of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers where she met many good friends. She and Lynn served as Service Missionaries at the Joseph Smith Building for six years.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the West High Alumni Scholarship Fund, c/o West High School, 147 North 300 West Salt Lake City, UT 84103 USA.