Wisconsin-based plastics solutions provider SussexIM (sussexim.com) recently celebrated its 40th anniversary at the company’s newest Waukesha County facility. According to SussexIM CEO Keith Everson, SussexIM 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,” SussexIM CEO Keith Everson says. “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, the American Dream is alive and well here at SussexIM.”

In 1956, Lorand Spyers-Duran, who was to become  co-founder, Sussex Plastics Inc. (SPI), and who is today a board member of SussexIM, 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 U.S.

Lorand lived off $20 provided by his sponsor. He lived at the Newark YMCA for one dollar per night. He knew the value of higher education and enrolled at Princeton University and, three years later, transferred to the University of Chicago’s MBA program.  

After graduate school, he was offered a job offer at Borg Warner Corp., as a management trainee. He was assigned to four Borg Warner divisions, the last of which was Marbon Chemical Co. in Parkersburg, WV. (This is the company that invented the ABS plastic now used in many household and industrial products.)

Four years later, he 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. He agreed to head a failing company in Hartland, WI. But when the firm’s ownership decided to spin the company off, the upwardly mobile entrepreneur sought another challenge.  

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 SussexIM.