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Something old... Something new.... produces an interesting marriage

My career in plastics

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I have been retired from active business in the Plastics Industry for 5 years and now feel that this is a good time to look back and assess my career, to see if my course of action can be of any help to anyone else in the Industry

terry browitt  I have been very fortunate, but credit this fortune to many people who were my mentors through life, to being prepared to take risks and to being in the right place at the right time.

I was born and educated in England, before I immigrated to Canada where I have spent my whole working life. The Plastics Industry and Societies in Canada and in the United States provided opportunities that exposed me to great challenges and opportunity. The early 1960s was a great time to start working in plastics, since this was near the birth of the industry; new materials were being discovered every day and new applications for these were constantly being developed. Everywhere people were discovering exciting properties of plastic raw materials and realizing their potential in industries such as packaging, toys, automotive, building and sports. It is hard now to think of any of the industries using anything else but plastics in many applications. Soft drinks came in glass bottles, bread in wax coated paper and automobiles weighed considerably more than they do today and barely achieved 7 miles per gallon. Clay pipe was used for irrigation and ductile iron to carry water. The conversion to plastic materials made great changes to people's lives. Formulators and compounders met fascinating challenges as they worked furiously to come up with stronger, more suitable, less expensive alternatives to conventional materials.

One of my early mentors was the Physics teacher Mr. Gould at my grammar school. He worked hard to convince me that a university education was within my grasp, something completely unknown at that time to my family.  I was having a hard time deciding what to do with my life. I enjoyed sciences but was not sure of which branch appealed most. This is when Mr. Gould suggested physics, which would give a good basis in science, logical reasoning and problem solving. I followed this advice and it provided a good solid basis for a career in industry.

When I arrived in Canada my entry into the plastics industry was serendipitous. Northern Electric, the company who hired me in England had intended that I start in the Electrical Laboratory but the head of the department was absent that day and the manager of the Materials department said he really needed someone so I became a Plastics Technologist in the Materials Department. Interestingly enough, later that week I met Louise who would become my wife and still is after over 51 years. I was fortunate to be surrounded by several very competent people such as Marta Farrago, Alan Wright and Jim Campbell all working at a time when business was good and there were always funds for both training and for research and development. It was a wonderful environment to work in that provided a very good education in the basics of plastic raw materials.

During the 1960s the environment issues became more important and I was again fortunate to be a partner with Charlie Knechtel in the founding of a recycling company, Phoenix Blending in Quebec, Canada. Again, we were continually inventing and creating. In those days plastic recycling was restricted to industrial waste product, but there was never a shortage of opportunity and all companies were grateful when they found out that material that they had to send to the garbage dump could either be recycled and reused internally or had a resale value. The science and technology has improved to the extent that today consumer waste can be sorted, and heavily contaminate plastic products can be cleaned, recycled and sometimes re-compounded to make useful and economic raw materials for a multitude of products. Again, working in this industry during its infancy was a satisfying and rewarding experience.

In my mid-thirties, like many people I yearned to have my own company and to be one hundred percent accountable to only myself. After initially considering starting a manufacturing plant, after much soul searching and consulting with friends and colleagues whom I highly respected, decided to reject this idea as my strengths were in sales, marketing and communication, I also had a passion for travel. So, I started a raw material company, Terinex International Limited in 1976, planning to consult with small to medium size injection molders, extrusion companies and converters to help them solve their plastic raw material issues and problems. There was no shortage of companies who needed help but none were prepared to pay for this help in the form of consulting fees. So again, on the advice of trusted colleagues I converted to being a raw material broker and distribution company and the business steadily grew from there and is still running profitably forty years later well after I retired.

One of the hardest things about running your own business is having no one to talk to. Certainly, you developed strong, meaningful and reliable relationships with your customers, suppliers and even your competition, but at times you need an impartial opinion or more in-depth analysis. It was at this time I turned to Professional and Business Societies and the Chamber of Commerce for help. I had been an active member of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) for a number of years, but I turned to the local Chamber of Commerce during early ‘80s and became very involved. Exposure to committee work with the Chamber broadened my education and gave me a chance to see how larger companies operate and how government functions, knowledge which was invaluable as my company grew and developed. As this growth took place it was essential to meet and talk with as many people as possible. At this time, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) became important to me and I was honored to be offered a place on their Board of Directors. This provided me with a great opportunity to meet many of the leaders of the Canadian Plastics Industry including Pierre Dubois, the Director General, Tom Torokvei of IPEX, Paul Cohen of W Ralston and Paul Clark of Nova Chemicals.  What I learnt from working with them was not only invaluable but also provided the great pleasure of meeting many competent, traveled and interesting people.          
Our company continued to grow and more and more opportunities were being presented in the United States and other parts of the world. I became active with SPE again. I served in governance and was charged with increasing SPE membership worldwide. It provided a wonderful opportunity to travel, meet people on all five continents, while at the same time contributing to the growth of SPE.

I feel I had a wonderful career working in the Plastics Industry, one that gave me a feeling of accomplishment, financial security and wellbeing. This industry provided with a chance to be in a dynamic and rapidly growing business and gain a multitude of friends. I was very fortunate and credit much of this fortune to the fact I was very involved and committed to technical and professional societies and volunteer organization.

It is definitely true that the more you put into an organization the more you will benefit.

Terence J. Browitt

Terence J. Browitt is retired from Terinex International Ltd, a sales and distribution company specializing in raw material and additives for the plastic processing industry, a company he founded in 1976. Terinex is based in St Lazare, Quebec and had offices in Toronto and Boston.

Mr. Browitt has served as Treasurer on the Board of The Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) and on the Board of The Canadian Plastics Pioneers (CPP). In the United States he is a member of the Board of the Plastic Academy. He is active in The Society of Plastic Engineers (SPE) since 1965. Mr. Browitt served as the Society’s President in 2001-2002 and was made a Distinguished Service Member in 2002. He was an active member of the Montreal West Island Community and Chamber of Commerce where he served as President in 1991. He is founding president of the West Island Tourism Office, past member of the local YMCA Capital Campaign and of the organizing committee for the fundraising efforts of the local Women’s Shelter.

Mr. Browitt has been awarded numerous awards throughout his career. He was inducted into the Plastic Pioneers of America in 2001. In May 2003 he was presented with a CPIA Canplast award and in 1997 and 2015  he was awarded the SPE Quebec Section Man of the Year Award. In 1996 the West Island community presented him with an Outstanding Achievement award.In March 2015 he was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Orlando Florida.

Since his retirement he has become more active in the local community, serving as Secretary of the Whitlock Curling Club and establishing the Ramblers Association, organizing outdoor activities in the Vaudreuil-Soulange area.  He also has been a member of the Board of the Hudson Village Theatre and serves on the Board of Nova Hudson, a community based organization offering health care services.   He is also active in organizing several groups of Bridge players.
Born in England and a graduate of London University, he emigrated to Canada in 1962.  He and his wife, Louise, reside in Hudson Quebec; they have two children and four grandchildren.