One thing that everyone in plastics processing can agree on is that good people are hard to find. And one thing that I find successful processors have in common is that they have nurtured and held onto a loyal, experienced crew of long-term employees. I’m sure many of you are proud of—and grateful for—your 10-, 15-, and 20-year veterans. But how many of you can match this:
Moldmaker Richard Benn just hung up his tools after 50 years at family-owned custom thermoformer Ray Products in Ontario, Calif. He started as a toolmaker at the company when it was at its original location in Alhambra, Calif., on Feb. 17, 1964, hired by founders Allen and Margaret Ray. Benn retired on Feb. 17, 2014, exactly 50 years later to the day. He was given a send-off by Brian Ray, third-generation president of the company. As a retirement gift, Benn received the keys to a brand-new Chevy Silverado pickup. Richard’s old truck had 300,000 miles on it, and the company thought a new one would be a good way to send him off into retirement.
When Benn started, his duties were building small thermoform tools and fixtures for trimming and bonding. Over the years, as Ray Products expanded from 750 ft2 to 48,000 ft2, and its manufacturing scope shifted from baby bassinets in the 1950s and ’60s to computer enclosures in the ’70s and to today’s repertoire from DNA-sequencer parts to solar-energy modules, Benn showed his ability to adapt and keep pace with changing technology.
“Ray Products will miss its most loyal employee, but we wish him all the best as he embarks on this exciting new chapter in his life,” said Ray. “These days, it’s rare to find employees who come into a job with his level of dedication. But Richard is the kind of employee every company owner dreams of. We have benefited tremendously from his work and are honored by his 50 years of service.”
“It’s been quite a journey,” responded Benn. “I’ve watched this company grow leaps and bounds, and I am proud to be a part of that success. I have known the Ray family for 50 years, and Ray Products and its employees are like a second home. I’ve had a great run and now it’s time to pass the torch.” Benn says he plans lots of travel, visiting family and putting some miles on the motorhome.
Photo: Ray, Benn, and Daniel Sweet, v.p. of operations, stand in front of the new truck, Benn’s retirement present. Sweet himself received a lifetime achievement award from the SPE Thermoforming Div. in 2011.