Sanford worked for GE Plastics until 1992, primarily in R&D and product development with a two-year stint as a manufacturing engineer in Holland. In 1993, he joined Polymer Corp., which changed names several times. During his time with Polymer Corp., DSM Engineering Plastic Products, Quadrant EPP and Mitsubishi Plastics, he held numerous positions in R&D, business development, operations, supply chain management and sales and marketing.

“Bouncing around among disciplines was intentful,” he says. “I wanted to have a very rounded, ground-level experience in business. It probably resulted in a much longer career path, but it was for a specific reason.”

Leading the Way in Industry Advancements

Throughout his career, Sanford has been involved in many cutting-edge projects. Early on, he worked in the same technology group at GE with legendary industry leaders, including Dan Fox, a celebrated scientist who held 44 patents and was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame in 1976. The group invented and patented Gecet, an expanded polystyrene blend. Sanford also helped improve the process for manufacturing with ULTEM™ amorphous thermoplastic polyetherimide (PEI) resins.

While working as a manufacturing engineer for GE Plastics Europe in the Netherlands, Sanford contributed to production of an ultra-clean polycarbonate for CDs and other media. Later at Polymer Corp., he collaborated on a project to bring advanced plastic materials to the semiconductor industry.

“Every one of those projects was about something new – a new business, a new process or a new product,” he says. “Introducing something new, then making it real has always been the driver for me.”

In 2014, Sanford joined Röchling Glastic Composites. Founded in 1946, Glastic Corporation was one of the first commercial fiberglass operations in the country. In 2007, the company was acquired by the Röchling Group, which has three divisions: automotive, medical and industrial. Röchling Glastic focuses on the industrial market, producing high-performance thermoset sheets, rods and pultruded profiles primarily for electrical equipment manufacturers.

“It’s a classic market,” says Sanford. “Our challenge now is to grow and diversify that business so the outlook for the next 40 years is as bright as the past 75 have been.” The company made strides earlier this year when it invested $4.9 million in a newly opened, 60,000-square-foot logistics building that will also create jobs in the region. The company, which also operates a 122,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, has approximately 120 employees.