This year’s class of Plastics Hall of Fame inductees have all traveled to dozens of countries and many were still on the move even as they have entered retirement.
They flew for work, trade shows, conferences, speeches and pleasure. That is, until early 2020 when they were put on “house arrest,” as Vince Witherup said during a recent interview with Plastics News.
The coronavirus pandemic grounded or reduced most airline travel, which was one of the reasons the Plastics Academy Hall of Fame ceremony was delayed alongside NPE2021. The ceremony will now take place in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Oct. 7 during the Plastics Industry Association’s annual meeting and fall conference. All inductees intend to make the trip.
Each of the 10 inductees were interviewed by Plastics News for the special issue and are featured with their own story and video.
While each inductee is unique in their plastics knowledge, they all share a common thread: travel. I’ve gathered some tidbits.
For Sal Monte, the stories go on as long as the miles. He traveled to give lectures and enlighten the masses to broaden material use.
“I talked with all my heart and soul to spread my mission to teach people how to use raw materials more efficiently using titanium,” he said.
He said he and his wife, Erika, had visited 52 countries and plan to be on the move again when the world opens back up.
Suresh Shah, who was born in India, spent much of his time traveling in the 1990s for General Motors/Delphi. He said he greatly benefited from working with people across different cultures and comparing them in the U.S., Europe and Africa.
“I really like Europe, Germany in particular, where they take one-and-a-half-hour lunch breaks, you come back more energetic,” he said. “And here we are, we are workaholics, we were so much.”
Peter Neumann, former CEO of Engel Holding GmbH, which is headquartered in Schwertberg, Austria, was inspired to focus on expanding the business to the world market after a trip to Asia in the 1970s. Neumann’s profile was written by my colleague, Plastics News Assistant Managing Editor Steve Toloken.
“As a student, I was traveling a lot,” he said. “I was traveling through Thailand and China, and at that time, it was not so open as it was today. I was so fascinated about the culture, not the historical culture but the business culture and the way people are working and hardworking.”
Neumann has slowed down in recent years but enjoys trips to the Mediterranean Sea to go sailing. He also spends time skiing with his twin 7-year-old grandsons.
German machinery executive Ulrich Reifenhäuser enjoyed building friendships with people he normally wouldn’t contact: “It really enriches my life and gives me new inputs and new ideas on what I can do better in the time to come.”
He particularly liked international sales and the entrepreneurs he would meet and build friendships with around the world as the industry globalized, whether that was