Sussex IM, the fast-growing Wisconsin-based plastics solutions provider that “solves problems to satisfy consumer needs,” recently celebrated its 40th anniversary at the company’s newest Waukesha County facility.
According to Sussex IM CEO Keith Everson, Sussex IM just marked five consecutive years of double-digit growth, which led to the creation of the new building, a 158,000 square-foot advanced manufacturing center that combines custom injection molding, blow molding, assembly, decoration, and fulfillment.
On hand to mark the occasion were three hundred of the company’s extended family, as well as Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, the Waukesha County Business Alliance’s Suzanne Kelley and Tim Casey, and U.S. Representative Glen Grothman.
“We are a company, not a ‘plant,’ and there’s a big difference between the two,” Sussex IM CEO Keith Everson said. “A company is composed of people who work hard for the mutual advancement of all. And, here, our fast-growing company, which is poised for future growth, is succeeding because of the dedication, work ethic and innovation of our team, which includes men and women from all walks of life.
“Clearly,” Everson said, “the American Dream is alive and well here at Sussex IM.”
Sussex IM Beginnings – A Hungarian Immigrant Flees Military Occupation
In 1956, Lorand Spyers-Duran, who was to become Co-Founder, Sussex Plastics Inc. (SPI), and who is today a Board Member of Sussex IM, 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 sailed in steerage, bound for New York’s Ellis Island, the immigration portal to the United States.
Fittingly, he sailed into New York Harbor on Thanksgiving Day.
Lorand and his fellow Hungarian refugees were assigned to a dreary Army base in Camp Kilmer, NJ. In less than a month, a sponsor helped the plucky 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. He lived at the Newark YMCA for one dollar per night. Lorand knew the value of higher education. He enrolled at 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 offer 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.
As a result of Lorand’s ingenuity, a plastics division was formed. And Lorand was named to head this new division. In time, his work helped produce highly specialized products for industries ranging from aerospace (the Poseidon missile) to bioengineering (a filter plate for the world’s first artificial kidney).
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.
Sussex Plastics Inc. – The Early Days
Lorand and three partners formed Sussex Plastics Inc. (SPI), in Sussex. Each partner put up cash, for a $100,000 total capitalization. The partnership was finalized on April 15, 1977. That day, the DJIA closed at 947.76. The S&P was 101.04.
The four partners scoured auctions in search of production equipment. In short order, they secured used, but serviceable, machinery and set up shop.
SPI’s first purchase order came from Liquid Metronics (LMI) for metering pumps and ancillary components. Forty years later, those products are still made, albeit now by Sussex IM.
And Today: SUSSEX IM
Sussex IM is, today, an internationally renowned, full-service, fully automated supplier that solves problems to satisfy consumer needs. The company’s capabilities include B-to-B and, now, B-to-C – with the addition of its new Sussex Brands division. Customers – in markets that include consumer goods, cosmetics packaging, healthcare products, agriculture products and industrial applications – benefit from accelerated time-to-market, thanks to the company’s streamlined decision-making capabilities and shortened supply chains.
Sussex IM’s end-to-end suite of services extends from product design to warehousing. Importantly, the company has extensive automation design capabilities and an in-house, dedicated staff of automation engineers.
“We were founded in 1977 by a Hungarian immigrant named Lorand Spyers-Duran,” said Sussex IM CEO Keith Everson. “Lorand came here as a kid, seeking asylum from forces of oppression and worked his way up the ladder in his new land. And now, he’s here celebrating forty years of hard work and perseverance, with our extended company family. The American Dream is alive and well, and it’s a beautiful thing.”