Canadian Plastics

Industry Leaders, Volunteers Honoured by CPIA

By Umair Abdul, editorial assistant   

In celebration of 50 years of the Plast-Ex trade show, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) decided to honour a larger number of our industry's brightest stars.

In celebration of 50 years of the Plast-Ex trade show, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) decided to honour a larger number of our industry’s brightest stars.

Unlike the other awards handed out by the CPIA, the Life Achievement Awards are not an annual occurrence. Since the award’s inception in 1986, only nine other plastic industry pioneers have had the honour bestowed upon them.

But this year marked a break from tradition for the CPIA: four individuals received the award, adding their names to an elite list. “These are people who were the founders of the industry,” noted CPIA’s president and CEO Serge Lavoie. “They have built businesses in their garages, and today they are multinational. These are companies that put Canadian plastics manufacturing on the map.”

Robert Barrett became involved with Toronto-based rigid plastic packaging manufacturer Polytainers, Inc. shortly after graduating from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1964. Barrett is the president of the leading packaging supplier, which was founded by his father Wilmer Barrett in 1967. Barrett became the sole owner of Polytainers in 1983, and has transformed the company into a full service, concept-to-consumer company. In addition to manufacturing a wide range of thin-wall plastic containers for the dairy and food industries, Polytainers has become a leader because of its “systems approach.”


Lorne Berggren, chief executive officer of Berg Chilling Systems Inc. and Mould-tek Industries Inc., has led his family business for over 45 years. Under his direction, the two companies have become national and global leaders in materials handling equipment and process chilling systems. In addition to maintaining the leading edge when it comes to the design and manufacture of auxiliary equipment, Berggren has also been applauded for his strong global vision for his companies. Berg Chilling won a Canada Export Award in 1998 for its reach in markets outside of Canada. Berg Chilling sells its products in nearly 30 markets, and a majority of the company’s profits come from sales outside of Canada. Berggren is also renowned for his strong focus on research and development.

Toolmaker Jobst Gellert moved to Canada in 1956 with very little to his name, and got his start working for Robert Schad at Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. Gellert founded Georgetown, Ont.-based Mold-Masters Ltd. in 1963, focusing exclusively on hot runner technology. He also filed a patent for the first commercial hot-runner system in 1963, and the company has continued in the footsteps of his innovation. The hot runner manufacturer has approximately 1,600 patents in hot runner technology since the company’s creation. The company has solidified its position as a global leader for hot runner solutions, and Gellert is widely recognized as a major innovator and pioneer for the subsector.

Since founding the company in 1974 with two partners, ABC Group Inc.’s president and CEO Mike Schmidt has transformed his company into a global leader. Headquartered in North York, Ont., the company is best known for being a leading Tier 1 supplier of blow molded automotive parts. Like many of this year’s honourees, Schmidt built the ABC Group from the ground up. He was born in Croatia, and spent eight years of his life in Austrian refugee camps, moving to Germany in 1952 before immigrating to Canada in 1956. Schmidt went on to specialize in blow molding technology prior to the creation of ABC Group. The company now supplies its products to automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), industrial manufacturers and the packaging industry. Schmidt won the Society of the Plastics Industry Man of the Year award in 1982.

The CPIA’s CanPlast Award honours a scarce resource: the volunteer, a diligent industry participant who invests his or her time in associations and councils for the betterment of the plastics industry. The CPIA gave this year’s awards to five of our industry’s strongest supporters.

Paul Clark is the immediate past chair of the CPIA, and previously served as the chair of the association for a two-year term. In addition to a six-year stint serving at the highest levels of the association, Clark has served as the chair of CPIA’s Environment, Health and Safety Committee (EH&S) for the last four years. His leadership has brought new direction the committee, and he has helped a more focused agenda for the EH&S’s activities. Clark instituted an issues management process that refocused the committee on the actionable items that are of the greatest import to our industry. The recently retired consultant was the vice president of research and technology at Calgary, Alta.-based Nova Chemicals Corporation.

Dave Douse is currently out of the industry after retiring recently, but he has made an enormous contribution to the CPIA. Douse was president of Uniplast Canada, and went on to become the vice president of sales in Canada for Schauburg, Ill.-based films and packaging manufacturer Pliant Corporation after the company acquired Uniplast. He has been an active member of the CPIA, and has served as the chair for the CPIA’s Plastic Film Manufacturers Association of Canada (PFMAC). Douse’s involvement with PFMAC dates back almost 20 years, and he was also an active participant of EH&S. More recently, Douse spearheaded PFMAC’s inter-firm comparison benchmarking study.

Although Andrew Rush has probably logged fewer hours with the CPIA than the other honourees, he has already made a tremendous impact within the association. Rush, vice president of operations for Bolton, Ont.-based Brite Manufacturing, has been very active with the CPIA’s Canadian Natural Composites Council (CNCC). As current council chair, he has gone to significant measures to promote the fledgling composites industry. A lot of his time has been devoted to gaining greater acceptance of alternative decking materials with the Canadian Construction Materials Centre (CCMC). Rush has also been working on an ambitious study to develop building code standards for plastic lumber in order to recognize composites under the National Building Code of Canada. He is very involved with ongoing promotional campaign for plastic lumber, and frequently attends building shows to promote the new industry.

Dennis Shanley is known throughout the industry for being a strong supporter of the plastic molding sectors. Until recently, Shanley served as an industry specialist for the Resource Processing Industries branch of Industry Canada. He played a liaison role between the government and the plastics industry, and has been instrumental in developing international contracts for the Canadian sector. Shanley frequently represented the interests of Canada’s plastic processors and moldmakers at international trade shows. He also provided international trade promotion assistance and worked with International Trade Canada and Export Development Canada.

Brampton Engineering’s technical director Bill Wybenga has been very involved in various councils at the CPIA and was once a member of the board of directors. The long-time volunteer is extensively involved with PFMAC, and has played a significant role in the CPIA’s Machinery Council. Wybenga also sat on the Plast-Ex committee, helping define the direction of Canada’s largest plastics trade show. Wybenga once served as the president and CEO for Brampton Engineering, taking the company from a bankrupt enterprise to a global leader in the blown film industry. He is still active with the CPIA, and is a member of the association’s Technology Road Map committee. He is also a member of the Canadian Plastics Sector Council’s Standards & Certification committee.


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