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Western Plastics Pioneers add Laird to Hall of Fame

The Western Plastics Pioneers will induct Laird Coatings Corp. founder Ed Laird, 76, into WPP's Hall of Fame during an Oct. 14 luncheon at the Los Coyotes Country Club in Buena Park, Calif.

"Ed is the personification of a leader who created, motivated and generated as he worked to develop his companies and, most importantly, his employees," Roger France said in a tribute. "Ed never forgot nor ever forgets those who've helped build the successful businesses, and he rewards them for those efforts. Ed is a humble man who constantly gives credit to those around him verses taking credit himself."

France is treasurer and past president of the group, and retired from a 44-year career in the thermoplastic resin industry in specialty application, market development and account management positions.

"Ed's contributions and industry influence have set a high standard," Rick Roelen wrote in the group's newsletter. "He is forward thinking, honest, influential, trusted, confident, respected and respectful. He has a great 'can do' attitude."

Roelen is a plastics technical development consultant and the Western Plastics Pioneers' vice president and newsletter editor.

Laird owns Laird Coatings in Huntington Beach, Calif., and currently is secretary of the Western Plastics Pioneers.

His polymer career began on a summer job while in high school. He was hired for a position in the coatings laboratory for Chrysler in Michigan. Subsequently, he received a degree in polymer science from RM Technical Institute in Detroit.

As chief coatings chemist at the Andrew Brown Co. during the 1960s, Laird was challenged to develop a coating for plastic, specifically for the aerospace industry. Brown told Laird that his company was not interested in developing coatings for plastics, but would support Laird's efforts.

That was the start of a business in 1976 that has moved three times in 40 years and grown into a multi-million-dollar coatings company.

The operation created coatings for Barbie's lips for Mattel Inc., trophies for Plastics Dress-Up Co., television bezels for Sony Corp., lenses for Oakley Inc. and multiple other creations for Boeing Co., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Apple Inc.

Laird developed close contacts with material suppliers such as General Electric Co., Eastman Kodak Co., BorgWarner Inc., BASF SE, Dow Chemical Co. and others. Those contacts led to more markets and sales, sometimes substituting polymers on traditionally glass, wood or metal applications.

Locally, he worked with a predecessor of the regulatory South Coast Air Quality Management District on the setting of standards for the region.

As president of the Society of Plastics Engineers' Southern California section in 1982, he unified five divisions and created SPE's largest section by membership numbers. He was chairman in the West of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. political action committee from 1996 to 2000.

More than 20 community organizations have benefited from Laird's leadership.

He is a board member and former chairman of the Orange County council of the Boy Scouts of America in Santa Ana, Calif. He is on the advisory council and a former chairman of the non-profit Bolsa Chica Conservancy in Huntington Beach. He also served the American Cancer Society of Orange County, Orange County Cancer and Education Foundation, Kiwanis Club, Claremont Institute and Lincoln Training Center.

The Pioneers consider Hall of Fame nominations on the basis of contributions to the growth, promotion and advancement of the plastics industry in their region.

In addition, the Western Plastics Pioneers awarded its 2018 scholarship to Levi Hamernik, a Western Washington University senior studying plastics and composites engineering.

Hamernik plans to continue his studies and seek a post-graduate degree in polymer engineering or another material-science-related field.

At WWU's Bellingham, Wash., campus, he has conducted research on resin system development, characterization and composite processing for aerospace applications, and he was involved in a sustainability-based project investigating fungal degradation and organic volatile adsorption of commodity plastics.

Recently, Hamernik spent time at Case Western Reserve University's mechanical engineering lab in Cleveland conducting research on the development of an elastomeric polymer skin for a biologically inspired robotic worm.

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» Publication Date: 11/09/2018

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This project has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° [609149].

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