JANESVILLE, WI—February 10, 2009—Last week the thermoforming industry bestowed one of its highest honors on Walt Walker, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Prent Corporation.
Walker was honored with the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award during the 18th Annual Thermoforming Conference of the Society of Plastic Engineers held in Minneapolis.
Prent is the world’s leading designer and producer of thermoform packages for the medical industry. Headquartered in Janesville, WI, the company has over 1,000 employees worldwide at its operations in Wisconsin, Arizona, Singapore, Malaysia, Shanghai and Puerto Rico.
SPE Thermoforming Division Chair Brian Ray, President of California-based Ray Products, said, “When you stack people up and ask who has the passion in our industry, who excels in their field, who has left a legacy, Walt Walker comes to the top of the list. He’s helped keep Prent on the forefront of manufacturing and operations day in and day out. He has a stellar reputation for developing rigid training standards and a highly skilled work force. Thankfully for us, he put those skills to work for our thermoforming industry and became the driving force behind the creation of the first-ever US plastic industry’s skills certification exam and standards for machine operators.”
As Prent’s Chief Operating Officer, Walker is responsible for the company’s North American operations in Wisconsin, Arizona and Puerto Rico. He is frequently asked to give presentations before national packaging, thermoforming and plastics organization. He is a long-time member of the Society of Plastics Engineers Thermoforming Division. He is also a member of the National Certification in Plastics Board of Governors of the Society of the Plastics Industry.
In addition to sharing his training and workforce development skills with the thermoforming industry, he also shares those skills with his local community. He helped spearhead the efforts of southern Wisconsin manufacturers to revamp math, science and English curriculum at local schools and was an advisor to the Technical Education Committee of the Janesville Public Schools and the Institute of Supervisory Management at Blackhawk Technical College. He also served for many years on the Board of Directors of Kandu Industries helping adults with disabilities develop their job skills. He was also a long time member of Rotary International.
Walker, the immediate Prior Chair of the SPE Thermoforming Division, was totally surprised at the unexpected honor. “Knowing the full significance of this award, I was humbled, proud and gratified to be honored with my industry’s Lifetime Achievement Award. I couldn’t be more proud of the SPE members I work with. Over the years, I have always considered myself a team player. But,” he points out, “being the leader of a team has never been the most important thing for me. It’s the team effort that’s critical. I have been very fortunate to play on some very successful teams throughout my career, especially at the Prent Corporation.”
Joseph Pregont, Prent President & CEO, who traveled to the Minneapolis Convention Center along with four of Walker’s children and his step-daughter to attend the ceremony, is delighted a representative of Prent Corporation was honored with the highest personal achievement award given by the thermoforming industry. “It made Prent proud. And,” he said, “it was nice to hear Walt honor all the hard work of our Prent Corporation employees around the world. My congratulations to him.”
Fellow SPE board members also report Walker’s personal leadership style, his industry insight and ability to inspire others as additional reasons he stands out.
Steve Hasselbach, CEO of CMI Plastics in North Carolina, says Walker has given a lot back to the thermoforming industry. “What he’s learned and developed at Prent has allowed him to share it with others in the industry. He’s helped a lot of small companies get their act together. He offers insight into how we can run our businesses better. Not just be better thermoformers, but how we can run a better business,” explains Hasselbach.
Although Walker is low key about his leadership abilities, Roger Kipp, Vice President of Sales and Engineering for McClarin Plastics in Pennsylvania, cites those leadership skills as one of Walker’s critical attributes. “In addition to his initiatives developing the machine operator certification program, Walt is also energizing our young thermoformers,” reports Kipp.
Brian Ray, himself a young thermoformer, couldn’t agree more. “Walt taught me more about manufacturing operations and personal leadership than almost anybody. He just has that ability to inspire. He’s very structured, straight forward and direct. Those are qualities that are not easily practiced by many people in today’s business world,” reports Ray.
Prior to joining Prent 27 years ago, Walker worked at the 3M Company in product development, new business ventures, research and manufacturing and served as General Manager for Borg Instruments, a manufacturer of solid state clocks.
Walker studied Business Administration at the University of Minnesota. He and his wife Barbara live in Janesville and are the parents of six grown children and 15 grandchildren.
ABOUT PRENT CORPORATION: Prent is the world’s leading designer and producer of thermoform packages for the medical industry. Headquartered in Janesville, WI, it has over 1,000 employees worldwide at its operations in Wisconsin, Arizona, Singapore, Malaysia, Shanghai and Puerto Rico. Prent is ISO 9001:2000 certified, manufactures in Class 100,000 production and secondary clean room environments, and utilizes Six Sigma lean initiatives, process excellence and continuous process improvement.
For more information visit www.prent.com or contact Vicki Damron, Prent Marketing, at 608-758-1150 or firstname.lastname@example.org