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Article by Nampak 21 September 2012

Nampak salutes Rob Roger

“The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” Originally the words of British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, they sum up the legacy of Nampak Rigid Plastics’ stalwart, Rob Roger, who passed away recently. Following 39 years of service to the Nampak group, Rob was a plastics man through-and-through. Well known, liked and respected among his colleagues and peers, Rob’s sudden death came as a huge shock, especially since he had retired a few days earlier.

“Rob was looking forward to spending more time in the bush and on the golf course. It’s heart-breaking that he’s gone so soon,” says Philip de Weerdt, the Managing Director of the Nampak Rigid Plastics cluster of businesses.

“Rob’s legacy endures in plastics’ leading role as a preferred means of packaging. Present at the very beginning of the polymer industry in South Africa, he was an integral part of the teams that engineered the launch of the country’s first PET bottle and milk jug pack with the handle feature. It’s difficult to imagine where we would be without his incredible knowledge and experience.”

After receiving an Industrial Engineering diploma from the Wits Technical College, Rob started his career as a Trainee Industrial Engineer at Metal Box Plastics. It was 1973. Two years later he joined the company’s beverage can-making business as a Project Planner and Controller, before going back to his roots as the Commercial Manager of Metal Box Custom Plastics in 1981. He was the Plant Manager of Nampak Petpak in Isando from 1986 and a Director of Nampak Polycyclers in Olifantsfontein from 1997.

At the same time, Rob was a leading figure in the plastics industry locally. Through the years, he held a number of board positions, including the PET Recycling Company (Petco, [Status]), Plastic Converters Association (PCA, [Status]), South African Plastic Recyclers Organisation (SAPRO, [Status]) and the Plastics Federal Council (Plasfed, [Status]). He was also an affiliate member of the Plastics Institute of South Africa (PISA, [Status]) and a member of the newly formed Polyolefin Packaging Council (Polyco, [Status]).

In a special interview to mark his retirement shortly before he died, Rob reflected on some of his career highlights. “I saw plastics enter the market and emerge as a serious player in the packaging space, changing the brand owner and consumer worlds in terms of its accessibility, convenience and durability, while growing Nampak’s offering in the process. Today, the manufacturing technology is so advanced that we’re able to produce 1,000 one-litre bottles in the time it took to make one 40 years ago. It’s amazing to think where we’ll be 40 years from now…!”

In looking back, Rob emphasised the challenges and opportunities facing the plastics industry moving forward, particularly regarding sustainable packaging. According to Philip, it fits with Rob’s selfless character that he was thinking about the future of the substrate at the end of his career. “We celebrate his life and memory by getting better and better at what we do and how we do it, while giving priority to the sustainability issues that were so close to his heart.”

Rest in peace.
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