Donald C. (Don) Graham was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan on January 25th, 1933, and grew up there with his brother and two sisters in a faculty family. His early focus was on athletics, particularly competitive hockey and football, and he continues to be an avid golfer, skier, and tennis player. He graduated from the University of Michigan, earning a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1955 and an MS degree in Industrial Engineering and Business Management in 1956.
Mr. Graham’s professional life started with Baker Perkins in Saginaw, Michigan. A stint in the Army brought him to the Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland, where he earned a critical skills accreditation in the chemical weapons group. He moved on to Read Machinery Corp. in York, Pennsylvania (later Read Standard Corp.) as Chief Engineer for Specialty Products, and then went to Read’s parent company, Capitol Products, as Vice President of Technology.
Donald Graham left Capitol Products in 1960 to start Graham Engineering in the basement of a rented farmhouse in Dover, Pennsylvania with no capital and one employee. From this humble start, Graham Engineering became the technological engine that enabled the development and drove the growth of his industrial businesses in packaging, machinery, recycling, and building products.
By 2010, the 50th anniversary of its founding, Grahamgenerated innovations in packaging, machinery, recycling, and building products had enabled its legacy operating businesses to generate tremendous growth reaching $2.5B in annual revenue. Graham Engineering Corporation and Graham Architectural Products remain family‐owned operating companies of The Graham Group.
Perhaps the best known of Mr. Graham’s innovations in the plastics industry is the internationally recognized Graham Engineering® rotary wheel, one of the world’s fastest and most efficient machinery lines for extrusion blow molding of plastic containers. The exclusive use of this productive equipment led to Graham’s growth and leadership position in the global plastics bottle market. Today, there are hundreds of Graham wheels in 20 countries operating in the plants of leading converters and CPGs who use them to manufacture millions of bottles and containers daily used by everyone, everywhere.
Graham Engineering’s core business remains the innovation, manufacture, and sale of high speed plastics processing machinery to customers throughout the world. In addition to its flagship blow
molding brand, the company also acquired extruder manufacturer American Kuhne in October 2012 and extrusion sheet line manufacturer Welex in July 2013.
Beyond its operating companies, the $1B transaction involving the sale of a controlling interest in Graham’s packaging operations to the Blackstone Group in 1998 spawned the formation of private equity firms Graham Partners, Inverness Graham, Striker Partners, and Graham Software Development which have led to the Graham Group’s ongoing and extensive investment in the plastics industry (see list of portfolio companies in the plastics industry following this career summary).
For his work in the plastics industry, Donald Graham has received the Society of Plastics Engineers Lifetime Achievement Award. He continues to be actively involved on portfolio company boards of directors and works closely with executive management, particularly when acquisitions, sales or significant change is involved. At age 84 he is fully engaged on almost a daily basis. And Graham Group investment concerns reach well beyond plastics managing approximately $3B in internal and third party capital investment in companies in more than 30 industries in a diverse array of markets including software, wireless and mobility, building products, and healthcare to name a few.
Beyond the success of the Graham Group, Mr. Graham has also served on the board of directors of numerous outside corporate, bank, and academic institutions and, along with wife Ingrid, has long term and far reaching civic and philanthropic involvements. The Grahams have been married for over 58 years, have raised five children, and have seventeen grandchildren.
For decades, the Grahams have provided significant leadership and financial support to the University of Michigan. Donald Graham serves on the current President’s Advisory Group, as he had served for the university’s prior two presidents. He founded its Graham Sustainability Institute and the Graham Graduate Entrepreneurial Studies Program. He has actively supported numerous programs in its School of Natural Resources over the years, including funding the Dean’s Chair which is named in honor of Mr. Graham’s father. He has also supported the College of Engineering, including serving on a National Advisory Board and funding the Nanotechnology Labs. His investment has also helped the Athletic Department including funding several football and hockey scholarships as well as the Academic Success Program.
Committed supporters of education, community, cultural, and environmental projects, Donald and Ingrid Graham have funded programs at many other institutions including Dartmouth College, Williams College, York College of Pennsylvania (including the Graham Business School, the Graham Innovation Scholars Program, and the Graham Athletic Fields), Penn State York (including the Graham Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies), the University of Pennsylvania (including the Penn Museum), the York YMCA’s Graham Aquatic Center, and Burke Mountain Academy (including the Graham Family Endowment). Donald Graham has received honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan and York College of Pennsylvania for his many accomplishments and contributions to benefit the institutions. He was also recognized with the Central Penn Business Journal’s ‘Spirit of Philanthropy’ award in 2014.
Mr. Graham has participated in many professional groups including the Young Presidents’ Organization, Chief Executives Organization, World Business Council, American Business Council, and the Recycling Advisory Council. He also served as Chairman of the Trustees of the Mpala Wildlife Foundation for over 15 years and currently serves as Chairman Emeritus.
The Graham Group Portfolio Companies Involved in the Plastics Industry ● Advanced Cath (and add‐on acquisition Medical Profiles & Engineering): works closely with many leading medical device OEMs to help design, develop and manufacture highly engineered catheter and guidewire systems and related components and sub‐assemblies including plastic extrusions, balloons, coils, ground cores, and braided sheaths. ● Berry Plastics Group, Inc. (now Berry Global, Inc.; owned with Apollo Global Management): one of the largest diversified plastics processing companies, Berry has completed over 40 acquisitions and is among the top companies in the Plastics News annual ranking for injection molding, film and sheet, blow molding, and thermoforming. ● Chelsea Building Products: a pioneer in the design and manufacture of meticulously engineered extruded profiles used in PVC and composite windows and doors, cellular moldings, composite flooring and reinforcement; plus exterior wall cladding, shutters, custom profiles and more. ● Comar: from prototype to finished product, a specialty plastic packaging and plastic dispensing provider with innovative, industry‐compliant solutions serving a variety of end markets for health and wellness, specialty food, household and industrial, personal care, and related market segments. ● Exteria (now Tando Building Products): a leader in injection molded exterior cladding building products with an extensive portfolio designed to serve professional installers, remodelers, and home builders. ● ExtruMed (and add‐on acquisitions Extrusioneering and Innovative Extrusions): provides high quality, high precision, extruded thermoplastic tubing for a range of demanding medical applications including multi‐lumens, co‐extrusions, catheters and lead tubing, balloon tubing, and polyolefin heatshrink tubing for critical device applications. ● HB&G Building Products, Inc.: a leading designer and manufacturer of synthetic and wood specialty millwork consisting primarily of exterior and interior columns, as well as exterior posts, railings, and ceilings for porch and deck applications. ● Hemasource: a leading, value‐added supplier of more than 1,300 SKU predominantly plastic medical products from leading medical products manufacturers to blood therapies companies supported by its patent‐pending software program used to reduce waste and improve efficiency. ● Henry® Company: a leading innovator of Building Envelope Systems® and one of the largest North American manufacturers of roof coatings and cements, Henry is a national supplier of air and vapor barrier, roofing, and waterproofing products including roof coatings, cements, and driveway maintenance products. ● Infiltrator Systems (now Infiltrator Water Technologies; including add‐on acquisitions EZFlow, EZSet, Blue Diamond, and the assets of Advanced Drainage Systems): an innovator in the onsitewastewater and water industry, in 1987 introduced an injection molded plastic alternative to the decadesold traditional gravel and pipe leach field system that could be installed in half the time. Thecompany now supplies about 50% of all septic systems installed in the US. ● LineX®/IXS: the market leader in sprayon truck bed liners and a global leader in protective plastic coatings serving the automotive aftermarket as well as commercial, industrial, and manufacturing applications. ● Mitten: a distributor of 7 exterior building product groups including siding, aluminum, shake & stone,windows & doors, accents, building envelope, tools & equipment from more than 50 manufacturers. ● NDS, Inc.: originator of the plastic catch basin, NDS is an innovator and market leader who is theindustry’s primary source for plastic solutions in residential storm water management, efficient landscape irrigation, and flow management valves for the residential and commercial markets. ● Schneller: a global leader in flexible film laminates, formable decorative thermoplastics, and nontextile flooring products for commercial aircraft serving virtually all of the world’s major aircraft manufacturers, airlines, and rail car manufacturers with cutting‐edge design, technology, and flexible manufacturing. ● Strata: a leading global provider of products, services and technologies to the mining and energysectors such as engineered secondary roof supports, coal mining ventilation control and emergencyrefuge chambers, wireless underground communications systems, tracking and atmospheric monitoring,as well as proximity detection systems that operate both underground and on the surface. ● Supreme Corq, LLC: a manufacturer of synthetic closures for the wine, distilled spirits, and specialty foods industries, its products include cork bottle closures, still wine closures, and T‐Tops sold worldwide. ● Western Industries, Inc.: a leading full service manufacturer of premium, private label finished products, and metal and large plastic components serving the appliance, outdoor living, recreational goods, and selected industrial markets.