In 1956, Lorand Spyers-Duran, who was to become Founder of Sussex Plastics Inc. (SPI), was an 18-year old fleeing for his life. The Russian Occupation of Hungary was underway. With only the clothes on his back, the teen flew – through the generosity of the U.S. Government – from Vienna to the U.S., arriving in Newark on, fittingly, Thanksgiving Day.
Lorand and his fellow Hungarian refugees were assigned to Camp Kilmer, an Army base in New Jersey. In a month, a sponsor helped the youth get a job with Babcock & Wilcox in Newark, NJ (UK boiler manufacturer). His high school education proved a saving grace: he was hired as a draftsman in the engineering department.
Lorand lived off $20 provided by his sponsor. His home was the Newark YMCA, which cost one dollar per night.
Lorand knew the value of higher education. He received a scholarship to Princeton University and, three years later, transferred to the University of Chicago’s MBA program.
Hard work paid off: after graduate school, he was offered a job at Borg Warner Corporation, as a management trainee. He was assigned to four Borg Warner divisions, the last of which was Marbon Chemical Company in Parkersburg, West Virginia, on the banks of the Ohio River. This is the company that invented the ABS plastic now used in many household and industrial products. Eventually, Lorand was assigned to the market development department.
Four years later, the savvy young Hungarian met the president of Eimco/Envirotech. They hit it off, and Lorand was offered a job. His experience in plastics paid off. Lorand convinced Eimco management that plastic has the chemical/corrosion resistance and strength to replace rubber covered steel, stainless steel, and titanium.
Lorand was named to head the company’s new division, called Eimcomet Plastics. In time, his work helped produce highly specialized products for industries ranging from aerospace (the Poseidon missile) to bioengineering (a filter plate for one of the world’s first artificial kidneys).
In time, Lorand was offered a new type of challenge – a corporate turnaround. Always one to embrace a challenge, he agreed to head a failing company in Hartland, Wisconsin.
But when the firm’s ownership decided to spin the company off, the upwardly mobile entrepreneur sought another challenge.