Friday, June 17th, 2016
Just like families themselves, no two family-owned businesses are the same. The plastics industry is home to many of these companies and in honor of Father’s Day, SPI highlights some family-owned members. Working with family to operate a business can be challenging and rewarding at the same time, but these companies illustrate that the rewards of passing down best practices from generation to generation, and the pride that comes from carrying on family traditions, is a big part of what makes working at these companies so worthwhile.
In 1923, Arthur Hehl founded Feingeräte-Fabrik Hehl in Lossburg, Germany where he produced precision instruments for medical applications. In 1943, Arthur’s son Karl renamed the company Arburg and expanded into injection molding. In 2005, Karl and Eugen Hehl passed management of the company on to its third generation, which included Michael Hehl, Arburg’s managing partner. Michael told Plastics News “The achievements of my father and uncle can’t really be put into words…To transform a little workshop into a global company within an industry is exceptional. As the third entrepreneurial generation, we also feel committed to this path.”
2. Shuman Plastics
In 1947, Phillip Shuman founded Shuman Plastics Corporation as a scrap business where he was later joined by his sons Charlie and Hy. In 1994, Charlie took full ownership of the company, which is now a leader in recycling and the distribution of thermoplastic resin and compounds. After Charlie retired in 2008, he sold the company to his two sons Ken and Dan. Ken told Plastics News “I’d worked with him for 23 years and with my brother Dan for about a dozen years at that point. Our dad was such a strong personality and accomplished business person that I honestly questioned if I could ever fill his shoes. It occurred to me that I could never do so, but I could still lead and run this business.”
3. Superior Die Set Corp.
Superior Die Set was founded by Kasimir Janiszewski in 1923. The company manufactures die sets, mold bases and three platen presses, among other products. Under the leadership of the third generation, Casimir S. Janiszewski and Frank Janiszewski, the company now has multiple manufacturing facilities, warehouses and distribution centers. Nick Janiszewski, fourth generation employee, stressed the importance of family lessons when he told Plastics News “The balance of the education about how things work here at Superior Die Set happens by putting in the hours—doing the hard work, getting the years of experience, and listening to and learning from the ‘history lessons’ taught to the younger generations by their elders.”
4. Teknor Apex
Alfred Fain founded Teknor Apex in 1924 and the company started as a tire recapper. During World War II, the company expanded into plastics due to a shortage of rubber, and today Alfred’s grandson, Jonathan Fain, is chairman and CEO of the company, overseeing more than 2,000 employees worldwide and annual revenue of more than $600 million. Of maintaining a family firm, Jonathan noted in Plastics News that “You need to work at it…That’s a real part of my job. One is to run the company and another is to keep family members informed. They’re kind of like shareholders.”
5. Wittmann Battenfeld
In 1976, Dr. Werner Wittmann founded Wittmann to make water flow regulators. In 2008, Wittmann took over Battenfeld and expanded into injection molding and opened new production facilities in 7 countries. Today, Werner’s sons Michael and Thomas Wittmann hold leadership roles. Michael wants to keep the family legacy and has recently hired his son to work at the factory. According to Plastics News, Sonny Morneault, Wittmann’s vice president of sales at the company’s operation in Torrington, Conn., noted there are benefits to being a family-owned business: “There are many advantages but I think the most important is the ability to be nimble…We’re nimble and quick on our feet. That’s an invaluable benefit, for sure.”