(Williamston-MI) – Martin Stark, Chairman of Bekum America retired after devoting over 50 years of his professional career to the development and growth of the plastics industry. Stark has been an exemplary and honorable leader, with numerous industry recognitions including induction into the Plastics Hall of Fame in 2018.

“It has been an honor to work for Bekum America, a true leader in our industry,” said Stark. “I have enjoyed every moment promoting the growth of extrusion blow molding, development of an outstanding workforce and the promotion of our award-winning Apprenticeship Program. Thank you to each Bekum team member for contributing to our collective success.”

Martin’s love affair with the plastics industry began in 1969 when he immigrated to the United States from Germany. Following 12 highly successful years with the Battenfeld Corporation in Skokie, Illinois, Stark joined the newly established Bekum America in Williamston, Michigan. Bekum was established by its parent company (BEKUM Maschinenfabriken) in Germany to build its blow molding machines in the United States.

Stark began his tenure as Bekum’s Materials/Operations Manager. Three years later he was named Vice President of Operations. He was named President and CEO in 1992, and Chairman of Bekum America in 2010. From the early days of his leadership, Bekum America’s reputation grew quickly establishing the company as the most influential blow molding machine manufacturer in North America – providing innovative, high-quality products along with world-class service. In 2018 Stark was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame, the industry’s most prestigious recognition.

“Martin – whose persistence and vision turned Bekum into North America’s top blow molding machine manufacturer – personifies great leadership in every sense of the word,” said Steven D. London, Bekum America’s President and Chief Operating Officer. “He is a man whose passion to ‘be all you can be’ surely made everyone who came in contact with him better.”

Martin Stark has been an avid supporter of expanding public awareness around the plastics industry through educational programs that encourage career development for students. Stark was instrumental in establishing Bekum America funded scholarship grants to local graduating high school students interested in pursuing a college education in engineering, plastics or manufacturing. In addition, he established numerous partnerships and technology exchanges with several prestigious universities.

One of Martin Stark’s proudest educational accomplishments was the introduction of a German-style apprenticeship program which covers apprentices’ college tuition in a work-study program in conjunction with Lansing Community College. More than 50% of Bekum’s manufacturing workforce has been trained in the award-winning apprenticeship program.

Stark has been widely recognized during his career with numerous awards, including:

  • 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award, Society of Plastics Engineers – Blow Molding Division,
  • 2007 MERLIN Award from the German American Chamber of Commerce, recognizing Bekum’s efforts in creating a program to efficiently produce 8-ounce milk bottles,
  • 2013 MERLIN Award from the German American Chamber of Commerce, recognizing Bekum’s Excellence in Workforce Development, and
  • 2018 Induction into the Plastics Hall of Fame.

Bekum America was established in 1979 with the mission to introduce top quality blow molding machinery, designed to produce plastic bottles, containers and other large plastic parts in the North American marketplace, via blending German design and technology with American skill and ingenuity. Bekum’s customer base includes large multi-national customers, as well as owner/operator plastic bottle manufacturers.