Our association and the entire plastics industry lost a dear friend recently with the passing of Jay Gardiner, a consummate professional and a tireless promoter and preserver of plastics’ place in the world. He was foundational to the growth of the plastics industry in the United States and was deservedly inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame in 2012 after decades of working in and on behalf of the industry.
Jay first arrived in the plastics industry in 1973 at Warbern Packaging (later, A&E Plastics). Since talent will out, he eventually rose to the post of Marketing VP; that role was followed by executive positions with Bamberger Polymers and Marsh Plastics.
In 1992, Jay consolidated all of his expertise and experience into creating Gardiner Plastics, combining resin distribution with management consulting for small processors. Activities also included turnaround management, consolidation strategies, and merger/acquisition advisory services. It was a natural progression for someone who had spent decades building strong relationships within the industry. “He built his business by helping his customers and suppliers both,” said Wylie Royce of Royce Global, “and created a wide network of friends who admired and respected him.”
Generously adding to a very full business calendar, Jay spent a lot of time giving back to an industry he felt had given him so much. He served on the executive committee and in the presidency of the Society of Plastics Engineers. He was on the board of directors and executive committee for the National Plastics Center and Museum and worked with the Plastics Pioneers Association on transferring the Museum collection to Syracuse University.
And of course, Jay has been invaluable as a member of PLASTICS, bringing his trademark dedication and energy to every strategic planning endeavor he touched, such as our NPE trade show. And all along the way, he kept an eye out for opportunities to help others making their way in the industry he loved. “I started attending board meetings as my company was managing recycling at NPE starting in 2000,” said Bob Render of Ravago Recycling Group. “I met Jay at one of the meetings and we connected. Jay encouraged me to build relationships with staff and fellow members and remained a valued mentor.”
Tributes to Jay from his devoted colleagues in the Setauket, N.Y., Fire Department, where he served for over 30 years
in positions including EMS Director and Lieutenant, and Chair of the Board of Fire Commissioners.
Of all the great things that could be said about Jay, both professionally and personally, all might be summed up best by Maureen Steinwall, President of Steinwall, Inc., who said, “Jay was always full of life, bringing smiles wherever he went. I will deeply miss my friend.”
There are people from every area of Jay’s life who are echoing that very sentiment.