“I am honored and deeply humbled to be selected into the Plastics Hall of Fame and to be considered along with the so many of the great figures who have gone before me,” said Stark. “It has been an honor to work with the best team in the industry, and to help promote the growth of extrusion blow molding around the world.”
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 headquarted 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. Under his leadership, BEKUM America’s reputation grew quickly, establishing the company as the most influential blow molding manufacturer in North America, providing not only innovation and quality products, but also “world-class service,” a reputation it continues to maintain today.
“Martin personifies great leadership in every sense of the word,” said Steven D. London, Bekum America’s President and Chief Operating Officer. “His persistence and vision turned BEKUM into North America’s top blow molding manufacturer.”
Martin Stark has also been an avid supporter of expanding public awareness about the plastics industry and to 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 of manufacturing. He has established numerous partnerships and technology exchanges with several prestigious universities.
BEKUM has established a blow molding machine consignment program within the Plastics Engineering Center at Ferris State University—in addition to providing technical support for BEKUM built machines installed at technical teaching labs at Penn State University Erie and Michigan State University.
One of Stark’s proudest educational accomplishments was the introduction of a German-style apprenticeship program in which BEKUM pays the apprentices’ entire college tuition in a work-study program in conjunction with Lansing Community College. More than 40% of BEKUM’s manufacturing workforce have 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.
“Martin has been directly responsible for encouraging employees and young people to grow and prosper in the Plastics industry,” said Owen Johnston, BEKUM America’s Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. “He is a man whose passion to ‘be all you can be’ surely made each of us who came in contact with him better people.”
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. Its target was to capture large multi-national customers, as well as owner/operator plastic bottle manufacturers as its customer base.