By Mike McNulty, Rubber & Plastics News Staff
Newton, Iowa-Polyurethane product pioneer Robert Smith was easy to underestimate.
He was known as an astute businessman, likable, willing to lend a hand whenever necessary. Smith could be trusted, was loyal and a great organiser, friends and acquaintances said at the recent Polyurethane Manufacturers Association meeting in San Antonio.
The co-founder and former president of Thombert Inc. could be a tough battler when it was for a cause he believed in and when the livelihood of his friends was threatened.
He was also one of a handful of men who founded the PMA, helped put it on the map and guide the industry from rags to riches.
Polyurethane was a little known and sparsely used material when the PMA was launched in the early 1970s. Only a small number of businesses relied heavily on it to make products.
Smith's company was one that did.
Considered an icon of sorts by many PMA members, Smith passed away a year ago at the age of 90. But, as a PMA veteran put it, his legend will live on.
Smith helped organise the first gathering of several makers of cast-urethane products and their suppliers at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in 1971. A year later they created the PMA.
Read more about Smith, and more stories from RPN's Urethanes special section in the recent digital edition (access at www.rubbernews.com)
Rubber & Plastics News is a sister publication to Urethanes Technology International.