Introducing the 2006 NJPEC Hall of Fame Honorees



The annual New Jersey Packaging Executive’s Club (NJPEC) Packaging Hall of Fame Awards honor professionals with more than 25 years experience in the packaging industry. The professionals entering the hall of fame this year are: Deborah Danis, The Glass Group; Ron Cataldo, VPI Inc.; Harry Bennett, Estée Lauder; Alan Rabinowitz, Berlin Packaging NY; and Eric Ruskoski, Seaquist Closures.

Beauty Packaging asked the five honorees to share their experiences and expertise with the packaging industry. Below is a summary of their responses:

Deborah M. Danis



Deborah Danis’ packaging career began in 1974, working for the West Company in the quality assurance department. Her sales career took off in 1979, when she was promoted to outside sales at The Wheaton Glass Company. Danis is currently an account executive for The Glass Group, responsible for high volume cosmetic sales account management. She has been recognized by NJPEC for her outstanding achievements in sales.

Q: What do you see as the biggest accomplishment in your career?

A: Maintaining a respectable reputation in the industry. I was named Salesperson of the Year at The Wheaton Glass Company.  Additional accomplishments include becoming president of Cosmetic Industry Buyers and Suppliers (CIBS) in 2005 and my induction into the NJPEC Hall of Fame.  

Q: What is the best piece of advice you have for young packaging executives?

A: I would advise young executives to first listen and learn.  I believe that success in sales is directly related to credibility.  Keep communication open, timely, and honest and you should obtain the respect of your customers, your company and your colleagues.  It is also very beneficial to be active in packaging organizations such as the NJPEC and CIBS.

Ronald M. Cataldo



Ronald Cataldo has been in the packaging industry for 37 years. He is currently the president and chief executive officer of VPI Inc. He has been inducted into the NJPEC hall of fame for his contributions in package development.

Q: What do you see as the biggest accomplishment in your career?

A: There are at least 10 people working in this industry right now that I trained, educated and mentored. Many of them are directors and vice presidents. Their success is a great source of pride to me.

Q: What are the most significant changes you’ve noticed in the packaging industry since the beginning of your packaging career?

A: The biggest change I’ve noticed is the technology that is available today, and the technical background of new people. In today’s world you have to be a packaging engineer to be considered for a packaging position in most companies.

Harry Bennett



Harry Bennett is the vice president technical packaging for The Estée Lauder Companies. One of NJPEC’s lifetime achievement recipients, Bennett has spent 30 years in cosmetic and toiletry package development and 10 years in cosmetic product development. His current responsibilities include global package engineering and overseeing regulatory, labeling and environmental guidelines for global package development, among other duties.

Q: What are the most significant changes you’ve noticed in the packaging industry since the beginning of your packaging career?  

A: In the early days of our industry, suppliers were the experts at their given technology (printing, injection molding, glass forming etc.) and made significant investment in research and development, stock designs, and manufacturing processes. Economic pressures and Asian competition have driven many corporate consolidations, factory restructuring, and reductions in research and development. The result has been that companies like Estée Lauder must advance their internal technical capabilities and be increasingly vigilant for changing technical capabilities at even the most dominant suppliers.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you have for young packaging executives?

A: Product and package development in today’s toiletry and cosmetic industry demands a technical expertise in areas like mechanical engineering, materials science, project management, business management, and human relations.  Continue to develop expertise in these areas throughout your entire career.  

Above all, have a passion for using these skills to excel in your job assignments at every stage of your career. The toiletry and cosmetic industry creates a huge opportunity for applying yourself to a broad range of packaging technologies. It is never boring and lets you see the results of your efforts in global retail outlets. Have fun and be proud of what you do.

Allan C. Rabinowitz



Allan Rabinowitz’s packaging career spans 49 years. In 1956, he joined a family business and engaged in the selling and distribution of glass and plastic containers, closures and packaging components. Rabinowitz, who is recognized by NJPEC for his lifetime achievement, is currently manager emeritus for Berlin Packaging NY.  

Q: What do you see as the biggest accomplishment in your career?

A: I consider my biggest career accomplishments to be spending 49 years helping to manage two family businesses engaged in the distribution of containers and hiring my son, Jonathan Rabinowitz, who continues in this tradition as president of Berlin Packaging NY, LLC.

Q: What are the most significant changes you've noticed in the packaging industry since the beginning of your packaging career?

A: There have been significant changes in the products comprising the packaging industry. When I started in business, glass was by far the leading material available for consumer packaging. Gradually our business shifted more to plastics with the introduction of polyethylene and later to materials such as polypropylene, PVC and PET. Similarly, from a narrow choice of metal and thermosetting plastics, closures and dispensers became available in many different styles and colors.  

Competition has also grown more intense as participating companies broadened their horizons by branching out geographically and selling and sourcing nationally and internationally rather than locally or regionally (as was the case in the 1950s and 1960s).

Q: What is the best piece of advice you have for young packaging executives?

A: To be successful, a young person should become familiar with all aspects of a business that affect the workings of the organization. While nothing happens until a sale is made, a successful manager or executive must insure that all employees are contributing to a culture of customer satisfaction while at the same time understanding that profitability is essential to the future existence of the firm.

Eric S. Ruskoski



Eric Ruskoski is currently president of Seaquist Closures Group (division of AptarGroup International), which includes 15 operations globally. Ruskoski built Seaquist Closures from a start-up to the internationally recognized dispensing closure company it is today. He has spent 35 years in the closure industry.     

Q: How did you get into the packaging industry?  

A: It was not intentional.  Following graduate school and backpacking around Europe, I started looking for a straight job in 1972.  Dan Mumaw, a friend and mentor, who was an executive in the corrugated business, opened a door for me at one of his customers: American Flange & Manufacturing, the leader in industrial closures and convenience beverage closures at that time.  I was hired as a management trainee and learned the closure business by working through all functions, including sales and leading to director of international marketing.

During this time, Dan also introduced me to Bob Carow, president of U.S. Cap & Closure.  He and Erv LeCoque hired me as a salesman for the start-up of a new dispensing closure company for Seaquist, a Division of Pittway.  Before the official start-up we called ourselves the “No Name Cap Company.” The strategy was to create product diversification complementing Seaquist’s existing aerosol valve and pump businesses.

Q: What are the most significant changes you’ve noticed in the packaging industry since the beginning of your packaging career?  

A: There are three:

1.     The rise of big brands with a global scope. This trend demands global capabilities to satisfy the requirements of the supply chain.  

2.    The shift in power to the mega-marts, which has driven emphasis on package cost instead of value added performance for the consumer and the consolidation of the customer base (brand marketers).  Unfortunately, headcount reductions, frequent reorganizations, and associated activity sometimes lead to experience and talent gaps, which affect the packaging.  At the same time these trends open up opportunities for people to introduce and implement innovative solutions. There are more opportunities for innovation than there were in past times.

3.    The life cycle of products is becoming shorter and shorter. You need to innovate everyday and develop stronger intellectual property to protect your competitive advantage. The world is full of fast-to-market copycat competitors. You need to be faster and smarter to stay ahead of the pack.