Martin Stark, whose more-than-50-year career in the plastics industry included time at both Battenfeld Corp. of America and top leadership roles at Bekum America Corp., died on Nov. 21. He was 81.
Stark was born in Dattenhausen, Germany, on Nov. 10, 1940. In 1969, he moved with his wife and young family to Chicago. Stark worked an overnight shift at a bakery to support his family and took English classes in the afternoon, and soon landed a job with Battenfeld. He started by taking care of spare parts and inventory, eventually working his way to VP of operations. After 12 years with Battenfeld, he joined Bekum America Corp.
His initial responsibilities were for inventory, purchasing and spare parts, and from that beginning he went on to hold the positions of president and CEO, and eventually became chairman of Bekum America.
In May of 2018, Stark was one of 10 inductees named to the Plastics Hall of Fame.
Stark is survived by his wife of 56 years, Erika Stark, and his son, daughter and their families, which include 11 grandchildren.
In a 2017 interview with PMM’s Editor Ron Shinn, Stark spoke about his career and some of the highs and lows involved. He said the best decision he ever made was to create a German-style apprenticeship program at Bekum America. When asked how he would like to be remembered, Stark said, “I will be happy if they remember me as the guy who put together one hell of a team for extrusion blow molding. We never let a customer down.”