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Packaging Hall of Fame honors innovators of today and tomorrow


Leadership takes many shapes and forms, and this year's Packaging Hall of Fame Award Ceremony will illustrate that point vividly. The event will honor seven men who have changed the face of the packaging industry, as well as provide a nod to future packaging professionals with the announcement of the winners of the PACK EXPO Packaging Solutions Student Contest. 

The event takes place in conjunction with PACK EXPO International 2012, and will be held on Tues., Oct. 30, at 5:15 pm in the Regency Ballroom of the Hyatt McCormick Place, adjacent to the convention center.

The 2012 recipients of packaging's highest honor are:
• Curtis Babb; MillerCoors (retired)
• Thomas Brady; Plastic Technologies, Inc. (PTI)
• Thomas Dunn; Flexpacknology LLC
• Fred Hayes; Hayes & Associates Inc.
• Hershey and Bernie Lerner, Automated Packaging Systems
• Nick Wilson, Morrison Container Handling Solutions

"I think it's telling that we've had so many sponsors step up at the Diamond, Platinum, Gold and Silver levels," says Maria Ferrante, vice president, education & workforce development, PMMI. "It indicates just how many lives and careers these men have touched."

Sponsors to date include: ABI PR; Automated Packaging Systems; B&R Industrial Automation Corp; Dorner Manufacturing Corp./Spee-Dee Packaging Machinery; Econocorp; FOX IV Technologies; Hartness Intl.; Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP); Kollmorgen Corp.; MASSMAN Automation Designs, LLC; Morrison Container Handling Solutions; Packaging Technology Integrated Solutions; Packaging World; Plastic Technologies; Purdue University Calument; and Pro Mach Inc.

"We truly appreciate these companies' participation. All proceeds from the sponsorships benefit PMMI's Packaging Education and Training Foundation, which offers scholarships for students in two- or four-year packaging programs," Ferrante notes. "So they are also clear demonstrations of the value the sponsors place on education."

To purchase tickets ($75 per person) or sponsorships, visit For more information, contact Maria Ferrante, vp, Education & Workforce Development, PMMI: 703.243.8555 or [email protected].


PMMI would also like to thank the members of the Packaging Hall of Fame Commission for their efforts selecting this year's nominees:

Joe Angel, Packaging World

Jeff Bigger, MASSMAN Automation Designs
Tom Egan, PMMI

Maria Ferrante, PMMI
Greg Flickinger, Snyder's-Lance

Rick Fox, Jr., FOX IV Technologies
Mark Green, Abbott Nutrition

Timm Johnson, Spee-Dee Packaging Machinery
Bob Larkin, ACH Food Companies

Mike Lorenzen, University of Wisconsin - Stout
Jim Mino, Hormel Foods Corp.

Ben Miyares, Packaging Management Institute
Tyler Pease, Institute of Packaging Professionals

Joe Pryweller, Packaging Strategies
Sean Riley, PMT Magazine

Rick Schneider, Schneider Packaging
Bruce Welt, University of Florida


Profiles of the Packaging Hall of Fame Class of 2012 are below.

1. Curtis Babb: Leading by Example
MillerCoors (retired)

Curtis Babb is a packaging industry veteran whose work and insights have streamlined and accelerated packaging operations and developments at the food, beverage and medical device companies he served. 

His innovative designs for the food, beverage and medical device industries used a variety of processing technologies, equipment, materials and change management skills. 

Babb has dozens of successful design launches to his name. His resume reads like a CPG's who's-who: Hunt-Wesson Foods, Baxter Travenol Laboratories, Hershey Foods Corp., Minute Maid Co., The Coca-Cola Company, Coors Brewing Co., Molson Coors Brewing Company, and MillerCoors, from which he retired in August 2011. 

And in fact, the MillerCoors organization, which he joined in 2002, when it was Coors Brewing Co., continues to feel the effects of Babb's work. He led its investment in a portfolio of next-generation beverage packaging, and set the direction for its world-class packaging materials department. He also implemented and consumer tested new bottle designs - home draft, Vortex, Cold Activated Window, etc. Today, his perspectives and insights are still sought out, and he acts as a consultant to several Fortune 500 companies.

But what really distinguishes Curtis Babb from other packaging veterans is his generosity of spirit and how it has shaped his leadership style: He leads by example, sharing knowledge and insight freely and driving his teams to give their best by doing so himself. And as an active member of the packaging community, that generosity extends far beyond the walls of any manufacturing plant.

Babb shares his insights willingly and happily, writing for trade publications, speaking at conferences and seminars, and assuming leadership positions in highly-regarded organizations including the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) Atlanta Chapter, the National Food Processors Association (NFPA) Packaging Subcommittee and the American Society for Testing and Materials. He has also served on the industry advisory boards to the packaging programs at Michigan State University and the Rochester Institute of Technology, and he has been an active participant in PMMI's Packaging Management Council, a forum that gives voice to packaging machinery end users.

2. Thomas E. Brady, Ph.D.: PET Pioneer & Entrepreneur
Chairman, CEO & Founder, Plastic Technologies Inc. (PTI)

The next time you stop at a convenience store, or put money in a soda vending machine, pause a moment to thank Dr. Tom Brady. He helped lead the charge to commercialize the earliest PET carbonated soft drink containers.

And, while he did his groundbreaking R&D work for Owens-Illinois, Inc. (O-I), he's best known for the Plastic Technologies Inc. (PTI) and its roster of sister companies, which he founded in the mid-1980s.

Brady followed up his BA and MS degrees in Engineering Science from Dartmouth College with a PhD. in Engineering Plastic Materials from the University of Michigan (1972). He took his passion for plastics (and his PhD) with him to O-I, where he spent 13 years exploring ways to maximize polymer performance through orientation. He moved up the ladder, from senior scientist to vice president and director of research and development for Owens-Illinois' Plastics Group, and helped start up O-I's first five PET bottle manufacturing plants.

His early R&D work contributed to the fundamental understanding of the biaxial orientation process, which eventually led to:
• The first mass commercial production of PET containers for carbonated soft drinks;
• The first use of short wavelength infrared reheat systems for blow molding machines;
• The first commercialization of rotary continuous-motion blow molding machines;
• The scientific design of PET preforms based on fundamental material and processing parameters, and the
• The evolution of injection molding cavitation from eight to 72 cavities.

He and his team at O-I also led the way to commercializing several emerging packaging technologies for in-mold labeling, spill back spouted containers, foam labels and secondary carrier packaging.

But in 1985, when O-I made a corporate decision to recommit to glass packaging, Dr. Brady seized the opportunity to help other companies commercialize PET. That year, he founded Plastics Technologies, Inc. (PTI) with a vision of becoming the research and development arm for new players entering the field.

PTI's early partnership with The Coca-Cola Company led to the commercialization of the first Coca-Cola plastic contour bottle (1994); the increases in injection and blow molding cavitation that made PET competitive with glass; and to the light-weighting of the two-liter (from 57 to 43 grams) and 20-ounce (from 31 to 24 grams) soft drink bottles, developments that were instrumental in making PET the material of choice for all sizes of carbonated soft-drink bottles. 

PTI also demonstrated to the packaging industry that PET containers do not require straight sidewalls, and helped several major household chemical and beverage brand owners industries convert to using shaped PET containers.


Other industry firsts facilitated by PTI include:
• Blow-trim technology for hot-fill packages
• Shaped PET containers for carbonated beverages
• Long-neck pasteurizable PET beer bottles
• PEN and PEN-blend bottles
• Blow molded bottles using bio-derived PLA resin
• Composite bottles using bio-derived PLA and cotton
• Opaque and semi-transparent PET containers
• The first FDA-approved process for recycling curbside PET
• The commercialization of upside-down PET ketchup bottles
• PET micro-cellular foam bottle technology

Brady founded six additional corporate entities, each focused on a specific aspect of PET packaging technology. PTI-Europe, SARL, serves PTI's global customer base; Phoenix Technologies International, LLC, is a leading supplier of food-grade and non-food grade recycled PET (rPET); Preform Technologies, Inc. specializes in manufacturing technically challenging PET preforms and containers; PETWall, LLC, develops and licenses proprietary high-speed online process control and gauging technology; and Minus 9 Plastics, LLC, develops and licenses patented nano-materials for use in packaging applications.

Brady also founded The Packaging Conference LLC, to sponsor an annual industry conference This is just one demonstration of a strong commitment to education on all levels. Brady helped found the Toledo Technology Academy, a nationally-recognized STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) high school, and chairs the Governance Board for Toledo Early College High School.

In college-level education, he has served on the Boards of Trustees for the Medical University of Ohio and the University of Toledo. He even served as the Interim Dean at the University of Toledo's College of Education from 2009-2011. Today, he also serves on the Advisory Boards for the colleges of engineering at the University of Michigan and the University of Toledo.

Other recent industry honors include the Society of the Plastics Industry Hall of Fame Award (2012) and the Society of Plastics Engineers Lifetime Achievement Award (2010).

3. Thomas J. Dunn: Flexibility & Value
Managing Director, Flexpacknology LLC

Tom Dunn helped make flexible packaging what it is today—the second-largest packaging segment in the United States.

A key player at Printpack, Inc., from 1981-2010, Dunn was involved in the Stage-Gate decisions that drove the company's successful technologies to market. They include nitrogen gas flushing of form-fill-seal snack food packaging, extrusion laminated metallized oriented polypropylene film pouch packaging, high-barrier materials for use in stand-up flexible pouches for beverages, and modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) for fresh and fresh cut vegetables.

These technologies, as well as the many others he brought to market, did as much for the consumer marketplace as they did for customers' packaging operations. Because of his work, the products and packaging provided found at the supermarket, convenience store or snack bar are greater and more varied than they were 10 years ago.

• Dunn was a primary force behind nitrogen gas flushing of form-fill-seal snack food packaging and extrusion laminated metallized oriented polypropylene film pouch packaging. These developments revolutionized distribution, reduced costs and enhanced the shelf life and appeal of salty snacks.

• He was also instrumental in developing high-barrier materials for use in stand-up flexible pouches for beverages, a development that has driven the packaging structure to a near-ubiquitous presence.

• Dunn's work with modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) for fresh and fresh cut vegetables significantly expanded the ability of produce providers to get their vegetables to market, and as a result gave consumers a wider range of healthy food choices.


Dunn was the principal investigator for a research & development initiative to develop packaging systems for advanced food processes, working closely with the U.S. Department of Defense Combat Feeding Directorate to develop microwave assisted thermal sterilization (MATS). This group, a component of the Natick Solider Research, Development & Engineering Center (NSRDEC) in Natick, MA, is responsible for the research and development behind rations for U.S. military personnel.

In 2011, Dunn founded Flexpacknology LLC. As this consulting firm's managing director, he's still making an impact on the flexible packaging sector, working with clients on questions of product, process and platform development, intellectual property management and food safety compliance. His clients include the International Atomic Energy Agency, for which he has researched prepackaged food irradiation safety.

Dunn's greater industry involvement includes speaking for flexible packaging years earlier from 1979-1981, as the technical director for the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA); representing FPA to committees of government agencies and trade group alliances, and preparing and delivering testimony on government regulatory proposals. He has since chaired the FPA Technical Committee and served on its Solid Waste Task Force. He is also an active member of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), ASTM International (formerly the American Society of Testing and Materials), and TAPPI, a leading nonprofit association for the worldwide pulp, paper, packaging and converting industries.

His papers, articles and book chapters have been published by Woodhead Publishing, RadTech Report, Technomic, Wiley, the Journal of Plastic Film and Sheeting and ASTM. A 2010 article for SPE, "Non-Foil High Barrier Laminations" discussed research and findings from his work with NSRDEC, and was named the best paper at FlexPackCon 2010. 

4. Fred Hayes: Standards Bearer
Hayes & Associates Inc.

C. Fred Hayes—"Fred" to everyone in packaging—is an accomplished engineer and businessman who has built an international reputation as a passionate, high-profile participant in the standards community.

In 1995, after successfully leading his family business, Hayes Machine Co., through a transition to new owners, Hayes launched Hayes & Associates Inc., a consulting firm. He testified in product liability cases involving safety standards and European Machinery Directive requirements. He was also was under contract to PMMI as Director of Technical Services, a role he's filled ever since.

Hayes had been deeply involved with the ANSI/PMMI B155 packaging machinery safety standard since the 1980s, participating in the first (1986) and subsequent revisions of the standard. Then, as Secretary of the B155.1 (2006) revision committee, it was Hayes's vision and leadership that led to harmonizing the E N/ISO standards in the revision. It was a groundbreaking achievement that enabled packaging machinery builders and users to build to a single standard and ultimately, ship anywhere in the world.

Hayes' work in standards goes beyond the B155.1 standard. He represents or has represented PMMI on standards committees including the following:

• ANSI AMT B11 Accredited Standards Committee (machine tools)
• US TAG ISO 199 Safety of Machinery
• ISO/IEC Guide 51 Revision
• ANSI Organization Member Forum Chairman (ANSI Board of Directors)
• ISO 31000 Risk Management
• ISO 26000 Social Responsibility
• ISO TC199 WG5 (U.S. delegate to committee revising ISO risk assessment standard ISO12100)
• ISO TC 130 graphics technology WG5 Safety
• U.S. ISO TC 122 SC4 Packaging and the Environment (vice chairman, project leader WG1)

But Fred Hayes is more than a "standards wonk." He began honing his skills as an engineer and a packaging machinery innovator as a young man. 

From his days as a 16-year-old on the factory floor, and as Director of Engineering (1967), Western Sales Manager (1974), General Manager (1979) and ultimately President and Director (1982-1995), Fred Hayes helped build Hayes Machine Co., the company his father and uncle founded in 1945.

His achievements include developing new series of intermittent motion and continuous motion cartoners, pioneering the use of Programmable Logic Controller systems (PLCs) on a cartoning machine, and implementing a program to raise awareness of company personnel to product safety—a program that may have foreshadowed the "second half" of his career.

He's known around the manufacturing world for his work training end users and OEMs in conducting risk assessments, and he has reached out to the industry extensively with articles, presentations, training and conferences focused on standards. Hayes also plans and coordinates PMMI's Annual Safety Conference.

Fred Hayes earned Bachelors of Science degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Administration from Michigan Technological University (Houghton, Mich.), and he is a member of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), American Society of Mechanical Engineers(ASME), American Society of Safety Engineers(ASSE), the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP), the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineers (ISPE), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the National Safety Council (NSC). 

5 & 6. Hershey & Bernie Lerner: Brothers in Packaging
Founders, Automated Packaging Systems Inc.


In June 2012, brothers Hershey and Bernie Lerner—engineers, inventors and entrepreneurs—celebrated the 50th anniversary of the business they founded, Automated Packaging Systems.

Inventing things and building machines is second nature to the Lerner brothers. Hershey built his first invention, an automatic shoe shine machine at age eight. As an adult he worked for the U.S. government during WWII as an engineer, designing automatic weapon systems for aircraft, before entering the corporate world.

Bernie served in the Army Air Corps (now the Air Force) as crew chief and flight engineer on a C-47 airplane. He studied physics in college, but changed career directions and before entering the corporate world as an engineer, consulted for several companies, including Goodyear Tire and Rubber, Chrysler Corporation and many others.

Together, the two brothers hold at least 70 patents, most in packaging.

Automated Packaging Systems revolutionized packaging. And, like so many successful start-ups, the business began in a garage. 

In the early 1960's, the brothers who had extensive experience in the packaging industry, tapped into their entrepreneurial spirit and began considering launching a business together. They had seen first-hand how inefficiently bags were opened, loaded, and sealed by hand on packaging lines.

So, they set to work, heading to Hershey's garage in Queens, NY. They spent their evenings creating the first Autobag machine and bags-on-a-roll. The machine presented a strip of serrated polyethylene bags, which were pre-opened at the top for filling 

The first models of the machine were little more than a fan blower attached to a cardboard box - with a spindle to hold the roll of bags. By June 1962, Bernie and Hershey were confident enough to quit their day jobs and form Automated Packaging Corp. (which later became Automated Packaging Systems).

Art Gould, who became a partner on a handshake in 1962, and was the ultimate salesman, established the company's sales and distributor force and played a critical role in the company's success. Now retired, Art still serves on the Board of Directors.

In late 1962, Automated Packaging Systems moved from New York to Hudson, OH, and joined their new investors in the American Packaging Co. building in Hudson. They purchased a small nearby manufacturing facility in 1965, and one year later needed to double their plant size. 

The company grew and expanded in the 1970s, adding two plants in Ohio and one in West Virginia. In 1986, Automated formed a joint venture with a U.K. company, later buying out their share. A joint venture was established with Kris Flexipacks in India in 2011. Today, Automated Packaging Systems conducts business throughout Europe, Asia, Central and South America, and Australia and has eight locations—and more than 900 employees—worldwide.

The Lerner brothers have designed and built the company's proprietary converting equipment. Hershey and Bernie Lerner are responsible for the majority of the company's many patents, including "Flexible Container Strips," the original patent for Autobag. 

The Lerners were one of the first to develop an inline thermal transfer printer to print graphics directly onto the bags rather than printing and affixing labels. The H-100 bagger, introduced in the early ‘70s, was the first fully automatic packaging machine to index pre-opened bags on a roll, ready for loading, at speeds up to 45 bags per minute. Today's Autobag and SidePouch systems package up to 120 bags per minute and meet the stringent requirements of the medical and food industries. Automated Packaging Systems recently entered the void-fill market with its line of AirPouch systems and has become a major player in that market.

Entrepreneurial spirit, inventiveness, and commitment to employees—these are the drivers of Automated Packaging Systems' success.

In 1998, Hershey and Bernie Lerner participated in an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) They sold their personal stock and distributed shares to everyone in the company—at no charge to the employees.

The brothers value culture and passion for the business over material gains. They support education, and have a program in place to reimburse employees the full cost of tuition for career-related coursework. Additionally, the Hershey Lerner Scholarship and the Bernie Lerner Scholarship each year award significant college scholarships to qualified students from employee families. In 2012, Automated Packaging Systems received its second consecutive "Top Workplace Award" from The Cleveland Plain Dealer for Northeast Ohio companies with more than 500 employees.

The company is an active member of PMMI, and its staff regularly attends PMMI Annual Meetings and Executive Leadership Conferences, and serves on the Board of Directors and committees.

7. Nick Wilson: Demonstrating Leadership, Valuing Education
President, Morrison Container Handling Solutions

In 1971, engineer Nick Wilson's entrepreneurial spirit lead him to the packaging industry when he saw an opportunity to bring his engineering expertise and natural problem solving ability to the manufacture of container-handling products. He started Morrison, which has grown over the years, into an industry leader characterized by exceptional service, reliable products and an intense dedication to customer service.

That's just one example of what makes Wilson a leader: He steps up.

As a PMMI Board of Directors member since 2006, and Chairman of the Board since 2011, Wilson has been instrumental in establishing PMMI's future growth and direction. During his leadership tenure, PMMI has introduced the customer-centric approach to PACK EXPO, expanded general membership to qualified firms based in Mexico, introduced EXPO PACK Guadalajara, and began implementing its new strategic vision.

He has seen what needs to be done, and stepped up to make it happen. And as valuable as his contributions have been, what is most impressive may be how Nick Wilson has impacted education—and mechatronics education in specific.

Packaging machinery has undergone the transition from primarily mechanical operation to complex combinations of mechanical and servo/PLC controls. Wilson saw this change and identified the need for engineering education that integrated electrical and mechanical knowledge and consequently fostered the growth of mechatronics education. This is especially evident at Purdue Calumet.

Wilson convinced faculty at Purdue Calumet of just how critical it was to establish a mechatronics education program. Then, he encouraged and drove a partnership among Purdue Calumet, packaging industry leaders and PMMI. The mutually beneficial connection provides students up-to-date equipment, technical advice and assistance and internships, and gives the industry partner companies the reassurance of knowing there will be a growing qualified pool of candidates moving forward.

He and his wife, Nancy, went on to participate in the development of the school's Baccalaureate of Science degree program in mechatronics, donate equipment for hands-on training at the new mechatronics laboratory, and provide scholarships and internships to Purdue Calumet students. The new mechatronics laboratory, unveiled in April 2012, was named for Nick and Nancy Wilson.

His commitment to education reaches far beyond a single educational institution. By stepping up, Wilson has virtually guaranteed manufacturers will have the opportunity to hire engineers whose skills encompass all they need to know. 

He has also played an active role in PMMI's Mechatronics Certificate program. The program augments mechatronics skills standards developed by PMMI and embraced by the U.S. Department of Labor's Competency Model Clearinghouse. It is also a component of The Manufacturing Institute's Manufacturing Skills Certification Systems (SCS) offerings. He serves on the Dean's Executive Council at the Purdue Calumet School of Technology. And as an elected member of the advisory council of the Purdue Technology Center of Northwest Indiana, he works with 22 other business and education professionals to offer guidance and perspective to client businesses seeking to establish themselves in the region.

In 2011, Wilson was honored with the Professional Achievement Citation in Engineering (PACE) from Iowa State University's College of Engineering, where he earned his BS in chemical engineering in 1967. He also has an MBA in accounting from Loyola University (1976).

He's never going to sit on the sidelines.


Source: PMMI



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