As I explained, Allastics had reached a point in time when it needed external help. Raising more money alone would not have solved the problem as we needed the plastics marketing and business help of a well-financed, experienced company in order to fully utilize our equipment and to add product painting, assembly and packaging capability for our products. Coincidental with this was the declining relationship with the founder chairman, Harlen Allen and those of us involved in the day-to-day operations of the facility. He was well supported by the majority of the board members but they instantly recognized the larger problem and cooperated to find a solution satisfactory to all.
Fortunately, we had been receiving un-solicited offers to purchase the assets of Allastics Inc. and one of these in particular was from Kusan Inc., the Plastics and Building Supplies subsidiary of Bethlehem Steel that operated five large plastics plants in the South-East. Without going into the details, negotiations resulted in the assets being sold in December 1971 and our investors were rewarded with Bethlehem Steel stock worth three dollars for each dollar they had invested.
As soon as the agreement was signed a Kusan manager arrived and immediately went to work. I was asked to resign as President and would remain for six months as a consultant for the hand-over. Kusan immediately ordered eight molds for the prototype decorative house shutter we had demonstrated as a viable project. These allowed the two 400 ton machines to use each of their four molding ports to produce four shutters every 2 ½ minutes.
They quickly found a customer in Montgomery Ward and eventually were producing four sizes of shutters, painted black, white or green, packaged one pair per package. (There was a lot of evidence that Kusan had already got the shutter contract and bought our large machines and added a painting and packaging line specifically for that account.) Kusan also had contracts for a variety of computer and office business machine housings back then when these were much larger than they are today.
Following through with the Kusan story, after the acquisition, Kusan expanded Allastics four fold to 100,000 sq. ft. and then in 1977 moved the molding equipment to their Gafney SC plant and the painting, assembly and packaging equipment to their close by Inman SC plant. In 1986, during an extensive reduction of assets, Bethlehem sold Kusan’s last five plants, most of which kept operating under new names.
Although the Allastics story got curtailed, in its two and a half years of existence, it set the basis for a growing and successful business and created a very large number of new jobs. It truly was an example of the American Dream and I will always be proud of my contribution as a “landed immigrant” to the USA.
As I monitored the Kusan operations during my last six months of my employment, I became aware that with more money and time, we could have grown much more profitably on our own but it was exciting to see how fast it could be done with a well-financed, experienced company. At the end of each day when operations ended, the injectors were shut down but for a short time, excess molten plastic oozed out of the relief valve into a waste bin. The next morning, I checked the solid waste to see what strange new blobs of solid polymer had been created. This intrigued me and I started a collection, many of which were surprisingly attractive
For years later, I occasionally entered one of these in local art shows. They did not have a category for, “Randomly molded polymer waste” so I always put them in as, “Sculptures” and quite often got an “Honorable Mention.” I was always being asked how I made such intricate statues. I still have one large remaining one of these on a wall near our front door.
In the winter months of 1972, Atlanta rarely got snow but, like most years, they had occasional freezing rains which put a glaze on trees, roads and everything else. During one of these, 18 year old Nigel, who had just started at Georgia Tech. the preceding September and was still living with us, was driving my 1969 Olds Cutlass and slid backwards up the wrong side of the road and wiped out two mailboxes and a telegraph pole. As I had had a company Buick at Allastics, and Doris was still driving the Impala wagon, the repaired Cutlass became Nigel’s college car. I still had the Buick but had to turn it in in June when I resigned.
Psychologists tell us it is natural for us to quickly forget anything that is really repulsive to our mind and our memory. I have interrupted this current Memory number 25 to prove that I have just confirmed their theory. In Memory number 24, I told of our Allastics ground-breaking ceremony in January 1970 but I totally omitted a major event in the lives of my family that occurred about March of that year. Doris was in Connecticut for a family event and I, with Nick and
Melanie, were at the new movie, “Patton”when Nigel came down the aisle with an usherette saying, “Dad, you’ve got to come home. Our house is on fire.”
We quickly went home to discover firemen all over putting out the remaining embers. The fire started in Nigel’s basement bedroom under the dining room and the dining room table and sideboard had sunk with the collapsed floor almost to the ground. Nigel had been present when the fire started but was almost immediately driven outside by the smoke. Without more detail, suffice it to say it was traumatic for us all. By the time Doris came home, we were already moved into a three bedroom apartment and all of our clothes had gone to the cleaners. We lived like that for five months before we could get back into the house. I was commuting to the plastics plant which was well under construction at this time.
Back to 1972 and Memory 25. About May of 1972, while I was still committed to working for Kusan for two more months, I was invited to lunch with Pierce Marks who lost his job as President of American Cryogenics when I also got fired from there in 1969. He had acquired a company called Ivy Corporation that had two divisions, a metal division and a building products division which he himself was managing. He said that he had sought me out to offer me the job of Vice President, Metals Division. It would necessitate a move to Jacksonville, Florida. This gave me the opportunity to not miss a paycheck and I quickly agreed to start working for him on July 1st.
The first thing I did was to fly in Ivy’s twin engine company airplane with Mr. Marks to be shown the Jacksonville operation, Ivy Steel and Wire Corporation and then on down to Tampa to see the Meadows Steel Wire Company. Both of these locations were busy but suspected to be less profitable than they should be. Just as I arrived at the Ivy Steel plant, a new plant operations manager, Julius Burns had also been hired. After a quick look around I went house hunting and very soon found a perfect home for us in the Empire Point area close to the downtown center just across the St. Johns River. We put our Atlanta house on the market and arranged for Doris to fly down to see the house and help me with the moving schedule and details.
On one trip down in the company plane we took the dining room chandelier from the Atlanta house and exchanged it for the smaller one in the Jacksonville house. Flying both ways with a chandelier in your lap is not a comfortable way to fly but we pulled off the swap with no problem and had our house closing in Jacksonville on August 19th, 1972.
Nigel stayed in our Atlanta house with his Olds Cutlass until he could get a room in his fraternity house at Georgia Tech.
We sold it in March, 1973 after paying two mortgages for seven months. Further events of our new home, new job and new schools will be another memory for another day.
One thought on “Memory Twenty Five”
Thanks, I really enjoyed his one. It filled in gaps in my memory of the time we were both still in Atlanta after you left ACI. It also corrected a false memory that I had that when you stated Allastics, it was owned by Bethlehem. I also didn’t remember the 6 month “consulting” period. The plastic “sculptures” were not in my memory. I remember the black tubs you gave me from an early run, which I think Elaine inherited when I moved to Houston. I did remember the house fire, and wondered why it wasn’t mentioned earlier. My memory is that the fire started because of an electrical short in a receptacle in one of the basement walls where water had leaked through a fault in the concrete foundation wall. I also remember that I was amazed that the restoration people actually got the fire/smoke smell out after the repair/rebuild. You reminded me of the Pierce Marks connection in your joining the wire company in Jacksonville. I thought that it was somehow a Carl Knoblock link, via golf at the Piedmont Driving club. The chandelier story is a hoot. All told Number 25 is a winner. Keep up the great work Al