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OBITUARY: PLASTICS PIONEER RONALD TONN
Ron Tonn - plastics recycling pioneer and founder of Lincolnshire compounder and recycler Luxus, died suddenly on Wednesday 12th August 2015 from heart failure. He was 83 years old.
Born in Chicago in 1932 amidst the Great Depression, he went on to become a US army veteran having seen active service in the Korean War in his early twenties.
Ron Tonn, whose career in plastics spanned five decades began trading in polymers for American based Muehlstein in the mid 1950’s. He was subsequently sent to the UK to help manage the company’s European arm at the age of 25, which he headed up just a year later.
He was later to establish his own business, Luxus on the 15th January 1965. The name Luxus came from his German grandmother, since she often described him as her ‘Du bist ein luxus kind’ which literally translates as luxury’s child.
At the company’s incorporation, it became his ‘luxury child’ since he didn’t have sufficient finance for such a venture at the time. Luxus was also a preferred brand name adopted by German manufacturers to suggest luxury e.g. The Opal Luxus.
Ron Tonn’s early projects included doing a couple of national TV adverts in front of the camera for major household names Oxo and St Bruno Tobacco. A long term income however, would not come from that route.
Then one day he received a call from an old Muehlstien contact offering him a parcel of substandard polyethylene to sell. He knew instantly how to find a willing buyer and so another offer quickly followed. Both deals realised more profit than he had made in the previous two years - his new venture was born.
His burgeoning plastics recovery business was quickly growing, so he approached a small granulation company Mavelat, to fulfil its custom granulation work. This was done from its factory based in St Albans that was later to relocate to Eve Street in Louth in 1967. At that time everything was loaded by hand out of Louth with a lot of export going via rail.
Peter Laking, engineering and project manager at Luxus recalls those early days: “We always had the upmost respect for Ron. He was never afraid to get his hands dirty, he’d help with the granulator work if needed and wanting to understand everything there was to know about the materials we were using.
“More than that, he wanted to incentivise us all too. In the early days when we were sifting powder, he said “If you can sift 10 tonnes a day I’ll buy you a bottle of whisky!” When we did he bought the team a gallon of whisky – those were of course very different times!”
Ron Tonn often described coming to the UK as his true ‘rebirth’, since it marked for him a fundamental shift from simply trading plastics in the ‘old days’ in America. Luxus was instead about recovering existing waste plastics by re-engineering material that would otherwise be destined for landfill.
The mantra ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ was gaining popularity in the mid 1960s. The time was right for Ron Tonn’s sustainable ethos. Marking the beginning of what we now understand as today’s plastics recovery industry.
He was later to become a British citizen too, proof enough of his belief in his business and his affection for his newly adopted homeland.
Modernity came when Luxus had the opportunity to purchase nylon scrap from pads used for rail tracks laid on concrete tiles for a ready market in America. This required joint investment in a heavy duty granulator, so a formal partnership with Mavelat began.
Luxus however, was soon to do the bulk of the business so the joint venture quickly became cumbersome for this entrepreneur. Ron Tonn then had to raise the necessary funds to buy out of the Mavelat partnership which he did manage to secure. This as it happens was great timing, just before the 1970’s oil crisis when demand for recycled plastics was to spiral.
In 1976 Luxus was one of the first businesses to buy premises on the Fairfield Industrial Estate in Louth. Ron Tonn continued to manage the business successfully despite the subsequent 1980’s recession before retiring in 1997. His true ‘back to the floor’ approach to decision making has been passed to its present managing director, Peter Atterby.
Peter Atterby, managing director, Luxus, described Ron Tonn as “a dear friend, a great and charismatic man and one of the UK’s few genuine plastics recycling pioneers. Ron created a business that was managed largely by hand in the early days to one that was at the very forefront of technology accelerating with a growing plastics industry. Luxus as a result, became a true leader in its field. He will be very sadly missed.”
The business that Ron Tonn started as a young American entrepreneur turned 50 this year. At its golden anniversary celebration, he paid tribute to his predecessor Peter Atterby, he said: “That man has taken it (the company) such a distance since he took over the reins. It is totally unrecognisable.”
Today Luxus is a £25m turnover business operating in global markets and still fulfilling its founder’s pioneering vision for a more sustainable future.
For further information please contact: Sasha Stewart, Straight Talk PR, tel: 07764 346 896 or email: email@example.com
UK leading independent technical plastics recycling and compounding company Luxus has been developing highly specified thermoplastics compounds based on prime and recycled feedstocks for 50 years. Luxus is a key supplier to the major names in the global auto industry and it was the first and still is the only UK business to achieve approval for its recycled grades in car interior trims.
Luxus also offers specialist ‘closed loop’ and ‘open loop’ recycling services to manage ‘end of life’ post industrial and consumer waste for the retail transit packaging, construction and local authority wheel bin markets
Plastics Pioneer Luxus Delivers Recyclite Project Presentation At Auto Interiors Expo 2015
First time exhibitor, technical plastics compounder Luxus delivered a presentation, ‘lightweight recycled polypropylene for tomorrow’s automotive interiors’ on the 18th June 2015 at the Auto Interiors Expo based in Stuttgart. (www.automotive-interiors-expo.com). To view the complete presentatiion click here.
The show has become a ‘must-visit’ for Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers as well as for interior design teams from automotive manufacturers wanting to keep up with the rapidly changing world of materials, finishes and technologies in the cabin. As part of the expo’s ‘Interiors Innovation and Design Forum’, Luxus Project Manager, Dr Christel Croft shared with the audience the aims of its new commercialisation project known as Recyclite.
Dr Christel Croft, comments: “The expo has provided a great platform to showcase the Hycolene™ commercialisation project and the sustainable benefits this technology offers with Europe’s key designers, buyers and suppliers in the very home of automotive manufacturing in southern Germany - Stuttgart.”
Luxus has as part of a consortium recently secured a €1.4m investment co-funded by the EU Eco-Innovation initiative. Its members are injection moulding company IAC for materials trials, twin screw manufacturer Coperion for technical support and Jaguar Land Rover offering end user guidance.
The project will enable Luxus to make a step change in the development of its Hycolene™ range of lightweight (PP) compounds, while also encouraging its wider adoption by Europe’s automotive manufacturers.
Please see image attached of Dr Christel Croft, Project Manager, Luxus
Luxus Shows Next Generation Sustainable Thermoplastic (PP) Lightweight Materials At Auto Interior Expo 2015
~~16th June 2015
UK based technical compounder and recycler Luxus, will be showing on stand (A5126) the progress it’s made on the road towards delivering next generation lightweight and sustainable materials to drive tomorrow’s auto interior innovation - the result is Hycolene™ a new sustainable lightweight thermoplastic (PP) range.
Luxus has as part of a consortium recently secured €1.4m investment co-funded by the Eco-innovation initiative of the EU for its Recyclite project (www.recyclite.com). The aim is to commercialise the development of its Hycolene range of lightweight (PP) compounds with up to 60 per cent recycled content to target’s Europe’s class ‘A’ automotive interior trim market.
Luxus will be collaborating on the commercialisation project with twin screw manufacturer Coperion to help with complex processing, tier 1 moulding supplier IAC for materials trials and Jaguar Land Rover. The automotive manufacturer will be providing end user guidance on the project to ensure the technical requirements are met, allowing exploitation of this technology across future automotive industry applications.
Robert Crow, Group Leader , Materials Innovation at Jaguar Land Rover described the Recyclite project as, “A ‘double win’ because the use of recycled material and lower weight of the compounds are both beneficial in Jaguar Land Rover’s programme for reducing the environmental impact of its vehicles.”
Project Manager, Dr Christel Croft at Luxus will be presenting a seminar on the Recyclite project as part of the Interiors Innovation and Design Forum, ‘High performance lightweight recycled polypropylene materials for tomorrow’s auto interiors’ at 11.45am, on Thursday 18th June 2015 at the Auto Interiors Expo 2015.
The key technical benefits of the Hycolene range are as follows:
• Significant weight reduction - up to 12% per part
• Increased recycled content – up to 60% per part
• Excellent stiffness/impact balance and improved scratch resistance
• Similar dimensions – a drop-in solution and colour matching
Peter Atterby, Managing Director, Luxus explains: “We are pleased that the commercial potential of our Hycolene range has been recognised by the EU. This investment has enable us to effectively make a fundamental step change in our technology as we aim to replace our filled compounds with next generation reinforcing additives.
“These additives offer excellent tensile properties that don’t detract from the appearance of the moulded compound, yet their adoption reduces weight by up to 12 per cent per part and significantly improves scratch resistance to meet industry standards.
“The new grades will also offer a lower density than is currently provided, while still delivering up to 60 per cent recycled PP. The result of all this is that tier 1 moulding suppliers will be able to produce more parts per tonne of the mineral as they will benefit from a much faster cycle time. This will offset the slightly higher price these new advanced grades will require.”
Luxus is preparing a patent application for the new advanced polymer technology process. Its capacity however, to produce these compounds will be limited by access to local sources of recyclate PP. So in the future it intends to license its IP of formulations and knowledge to other selected compounders in the EU who have access source assured PP recyclate locally.
Meet the Team
Peter has over 40 years experience in the plastics industry, having joined Luxus as a graduate apprentice in 1970. Since that time he has gained experience in various roles across the business becoming an Executive Assistant in 1973, then at the tender age of 28 he became a Director and five years later, he had proved himself sufficiently to be promoted to the role of Managing Director. Today, Luxus has been transformed from a small plastics trading and granulation company to a leading technical compounding and recycling company with a turnover of £25m. Peter and his management team have successfully overseen the strategic direction of the company enabling it to become a key supplier in many markets, particularly the global automotive industry, revolutionising sustainable component design in the process.
After finishing my degree in Biology I worked Scenes of Crime for Lincolnshire Police. After having children I fancied a change and re-trained in finance. That led to a position as an advisor and broker with an American Firm in Canary Wharf. I then moved to a similar role for HSBC covering Lincolnshire & Humberside. For the last 5 years I have worked in the Plastic Industry, moving to Luxus this last year to help further develop our commercial outlets globally. Triathlon is my passion. If I can swim in it, ride on it, or run over it, then sign me up.
Business Development Manager
Luxus aim is to continually push the boundaries of material technical performance that can be delivered by recycled polymer compounds. My personal role is to amalgamate a customer requirement with the right recycled polymer solution. As every customer is unique, my days are filled with the challenge of ensuring both Luxus and customer openly exchange the information essential for success in material delivery. Consequently every day is different and some problems do result in my dog having a particularly long walk as I ponder issues and seek appropriate resolutions. Boredom does not feature in my daily work!
I have been here at Luxus since November 2014. I am relatively new to the project side but a strong background in engineering. I spend most weekends travelling all over the country watching, mechanicing and competing in motorsport events. I have a HNC in Mechanical Engineering and started my project engineer career in early 2014. Here at Luxus I am responsible for creating and implementing idea’s and projects to improve site operation and safety.
I have been the Technical Sales Manager for 6 years, but have over 36 years service in total. I completed an Apprenticeship in Store Management before moving into the plastics industry. Out of work I enjoy swimming, cycling, music and eating and my favourite place in the world is North Berwick near Edinburgh. I am married to Barbara and we have a cat called Snoopy. My biggest achievement is getting to 60! And my favourite food is chocolate.
Since joining Luxus in 2010 I have worked right across the business gaining a thorough understanding of our key operations. My background was in the automotive industry where I spent most of my time as a Project Manager. I completed a BEng in Automotive Engineering at Loughborough University and since being at Luxus I have part-completed an MBA at Lincoln University. Outside of the work place I keep myself equally busy, sharing my time between golf, home life, keeping fit and travelling the world wherever possible.
Sales Office Manager
I have been at Luxus since February 2012, starting as a sales administrator and progressing to my current role, along with dabbling in a bit of marketing and PR along the way. I have been lucky enough to work with Luxus staff at various levels and from various departments which has been really useful to my development here. When I am not in the office I can often be found in my kitchen baking for my colleagues or in a nice restaurant with my husband indulging in our love of food.
I joined Luxus in 2015 as a Project Manager heading up various research initiatives for the business from our new Technical Centre. I am in particular responsible for the delivery of the EU Eco-Innovation funded programme Recyclite (www.Recyclite.eu), aiming at the commercialisation of our light weight, scratch resistant, recycled content polypropylene range known as Hycolene TM. With a PhD in material Science and an MBA, I have experience in project management in both technical and commercial roles. I really enjoy the dynamism and vision of Luxus ltd. Innovation, excellence and sustainability are in the heart of our approach and they are displayed in all areas of our jobs. Outside work, I enjoy spending time with my family (as a taxi driver for my three sons) and I am a fan of Yoga.
Team Leader - Compounding
Engineering Team Leader
Controller - Recycling
I joined Luxus in November 2014. I completed my MSc degrees in Materials Engineering at Wroclaw University of Technology and Waste and Clean Technology at University of the West of Scotland where I started being interested in the waste management of plastics. Currently I am a Process Engineer at Luxus which I consider as my greatest life achievement. My favourite place in the world is Wroclaw. I do not have favourite food as I like exploring new exotic tastes. I like watching movies and listening music in my spare time. My biggest hobbies are Polish folk dancing and travelling.
Team Leader - Recycling
I started at Luxus in 1968 at the age of 15 and since then I have operated all forms of machine starting with the kettle on my first day! I moved on to grinding scrap, FLT driving and training and then obtained my HGV class one (which I still have). Next was engineering, repairing and installing our machines, and I even ended up at night school teaching welding and turning. I then became the Recycling Manager for 20 years and more recently became Engineering and Project Manager. Away from Luxus I have been happily married for nearly 40 years and we have two great children. My favourite place in the world is my course fishing pond, but I also keep myself busy with DIY, shooting and gardening.
Purchasing & Stores Co-Ordinator
I have been employed at Luxus since 2014. I am responsible for procuring parts to support the engineering side of the business, keeping critical parts at a level to allow the company to operating 24 hours a day. I was educated at Monks Dyke High School Louth, obtained a City In Guilds as a Motor Vehicle Technician, hold Nebosh certification in Health & safety & a CPC in National Road Haulage. I am an avid Cyclist and enjoy Ballroom Dancing with my wife Sue. Our favourite destination is Paris and we have three West Highland Terriers.
Team Leader - Recycling
I am the production team leader on nightshift. During the week I am responsible for keeping the Recycling department running smoothly with a great team behind me. I have been working for the company now for a little over a year and started off as an operator. I quickly progressed into my current role which I enjoy very much. In my spare time I enjoy many things from fishing to spending time with my children. I have come from the automotive industry previously and hope to use my experience to help contribute to a brighter more rewarding future here at Luxus.
Hi I'm Geoff I have 2 fantastic kids and partner called Gill (who is a saint). After leaving school I went to Riseholme Agricultural College which seemed natural as I was from a farming background, after a few years I fancied a change of direction so I join Luxus in 1998. I started as a extruder operator and have worked my way up though the company to be Production Manager for compounding. My proudest work moment was receiving the 'Employee of the Year' award at the company's 50th Anniversary celebrations.
I joined Luxus in 1991 following an earlier career in agricultural plant breeding with Nickerson Seeds. I have held various positions and I am now the Purchasing Manager. Away from work I enjoy being outdoors in my garden or going for long walks. I am a member of the RHS and NT. I try to keep fit, cycling to work when I can. I also have a passion for most things with an engine, in particular classic bikes, cars and tractors, as well as motor sports.
A Norfolk lad, I started my career in accountancy practice, training as an accountant with PKF in Norwich before moving into industry in 1993 as Group Financial Controller for a Company in the Food sector. I joined Luxus in 2000 as the Finance Manager before being promoted to Finance Director in 2002. Away from work, I am a life-long Norwich City supporter and avid F1 fan, and also enjoy walking with my family and our cocker spaniel.
Team Leader - Compounding
I am the weekend nightshift controller (joined Luxus in Sep 2004). I moved to Lincolnshire 12 years ago, which was a shock as I had never been North of Watford! I previously worked for 24 years with WH Smith. I am married with one daughter aged 8 and my favourite food is 'Pie and Mash ' from Chapel market London N1. My favourite place in the world is Mombasa and my least favourite is the M25. I have a passion for classic bikes and Jags.
General Production Manager
I joined Luxus in 1992 as a Lab technician. I have held several positions at Luxus and now I am the General production manager. I play guitar for relaxation. I have two pet Cocker Spaniels. My favourite food is Tandoori chicken. My favourite place in the world is Ajaccio in Corsica. My greatest achievements are marrying my wife Tina, then having my son Ben, then joining Luxus. At Luxus I am immensely proud to be involved in the development and production of the finest technical recycled plastics in the world and to work with some of the nicest people I have ever met.
I joined Luxus via the Graduate Academy program in Oct 2011 after completing my BA (hons) degree in Business Management. I have been privileged to work and train across various departments such as, technical centre/ Lab, Sales, HR, production planning and purchasing & Stores to gain an in depth knowledge of the company and market sector. In January 2014 I started my full time role as Logistics Manager controlling all transport movements, storage and material flow for both raw material and finished products within the business. I look forward to the expanding future of Luxus and will continue to contribute and grow within (its nurturing arm ) it. I enjoy pina coladas and dancing in the rain! Gym, Swim.... fave place Luxus
Team Leader - Compounding
I have worked at luxus since 93 and have been a team leader for 9 years. I am looking forward to celebrating my 50th in May 2015 and I have been married 9 yrs this April. I have got two grown up children. I was Born in Anglesey, North Wales and attended school at Holyhead. I moved to Grimsby in 1982, but I still love to return 'home' for walks in Snowdonia and along the North Wales coastline. I enjoy weekends away with my wife and we are both members of the NT and English heritage, and enjoy cycling. walking and films. My favourite at moment is GAME OF THRONES. My favourite food is homemade curry and anything that is bad for you!
Team Leader - Recycling
I have been with Luxus since 2001, starting as a machine operator. My current role is Day Shift Team Leader at Recycling since 2010. Over the years, I have seen many positive changes within the company and I am proud to have been a part of it. In my personal time, I go to archery and regularly compete at archery field shoots – I sometimes even come home with medals. I also enjoy woodturning and leatherwork. My wife and I like to travel and my favourite destination that I seem to keep revisiting is Scotland!
I have been at Luxus since July 2011, starting as a Team Leader. During my first two years of employment I completed IOSH and NEBOSH Health & Safety courses. In January 2014 I became Health & Safety Co-ordinator and in February 2015 I was promoted to Health & Safety Manager. I am very proud to be a part of the Management Team in one of the most successful plastic compounding companies in the UK. I am typical audiophile and I can spend hours in my listening room if only I have time for it. I like to be active so I train as much as I can to keep me fit. I love holidays and travelling. My favourite place is the Greek island, Rhodes.
I have worked at Luxus now for over 25 years, in that time I have gained a great deal of knowledge in polymers and recycled processing, working in the Technical Centre for over 22 years. I enjoy my role as development technician, constantly learning still and love colourmatch challenges. My passion is motorcycle road racing and photography and have had articles and photographs published many times in the past years. I would love to go back to the Maldives one day where I spent my honeymoon, it’s just as good as it looks on TV. Hate cheese.
PA to the MD & HR Co-Ordinator
I joined Luxus in 2007 as personal assistant to Managing Director, Peter Atterby. Having a background in HR I also offer support to the management team in areas of such as employment law, employee relations, recruitment, training and development. It has been particularly rewarding to have been involved in setting up the Luxus Academy and seeing the first graduates and apprentices now in key roles within the business. In my spare time I am kept fit and active by two small grandchildren. We love to explore the great outdoors or have fun with messy play such as painting pictures and baking.
Team Leader - Compounding
After finishing University, I Started my life at Luxus as part of the Luxus Academy – An initiative set up to support and encourage people fresh out of Uni. For the first year and a half I worked in the Lab creating Recipes and performing the End of line quality checks on our compounds. I learnt a great deal in this time about the various polymers and got to understand the processes that take part in the factory. My next role was in the purchasing department where I learnt about the recycled Polymer Market as a whole, getting a firm understanding of how our suppliers operator. Both of these roles provided a firm grounding when I was asked to become Quality Coordinator and subsequently Quality Manager. What do I like to do in my spare time? Anything outdoors based, I Sail, I Scout, I live! Favourite food? I do not take bribes (Outright) but can be tempted with anything made out of Chocolate!
Purchase office Manager
Eeeeee it’s been nearly 10 years since I started with Luxus in September 2005 and I am responsible for the Purchasing of our Raw Material feedstock as well as Masterbatch, Additives and Fillers. Outdoorsy, I like to spend my time with our two lovely Golden Retrievers “Brinkley & Lilly” and our caravan. Good idea to avoid weekends we away with the caravan because wet weather does have a habit of following us!
I started at Luxus Ltd in 2009 as a Production Team Leader, but quickly progressed to the Recycling Production Manager. I previously worked in the automotive industry where I gained a lot of experience in Lean Manufacturing processes and I try to implement these to continuously improve our business here at Luxus. This may also explain my love of F1 where even the smallest of improvements are key. Outside of work, my wife Fiona and I have two wonderful children and I enjoy computing, caravanning (sorry for the delays!) and BBQ cooking but I do my best to avoid any decorating or shopping trips.
Almost 20 years ago after leaving University with a degree in French and history I started working in the Sales Department at Luxus whilst I decided what I wanted to do with my life and am still here! Out of work I have a lively 9 year old minecraft obsessed son and an even livelier 2 year old black lab which keeps me busy. Of course there is always time to fit in “sophisticated” wine evenings with good friends.
Technical Team Leader Compounding
Team Leader - Recycling
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