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Because I was around since the beginning, I thought it might be interesting to record my memories of how things were back in 1960, when my dad, Michael T. Russo, founded M R products, Inc.  I was 12 years old, and I remember that we all pitched in to help, whether it was cleaning the offices or typing invoices.  Until then, my dad had been selling extracts for beverages, and he traveled quite a bit.  It was his dream to have his own business, and, because he was in the beverage business, he came up with a new product idea for a plastic reseal cap.  He applied for and was granted a patent. Since back then, most soda came in 16 oz. glass bottles, these reseal caps were perfect to keep the carbonation in the bottle.  The cap could also show some advertising, so Pepsi liked it, and gave my dad $12,000 for the patent.  I remember that my mother, sister and I were excited since my dad got to meet Joan Crawford, who was Vice Chairman of PepsiCo at that time.

With that small amount of capital, my father bought one injection molding machine and rented some space in a factory in Madison Heights, MI. He would put on old clothes to work at the factory and make parts, and then change into a suit and tie to try to sell them.  Back in the early '60s, plastic engineering and manufacturing was very new, and he had to experiment with all kinds of materials to find the best material for a particular part.  I remember once, when he was mixing materials and trying to purge them with a plunger, he burned off one of his eyebrows with a nylon material!  No one had a degree in plastics engineering back then, but my dad did study engineering at Ohio State, and he had an inventive mind.  He was always curious about how things worked, and once came up with an idea for locking a stanchion by studying a medical catheter.

In the early years, M R Products, Inc. was a supplier to General Motors, Chrysler, and Stanley Door, but it was his dream to make his own proprietary products.  Over the course of the first ten years in business, he applied for almost 100 patents, and was granted at least 27.  These patents included several designs for plastic posts, a greenhouse, flower pots, and an entire line of safety and crowd control products.  By the middle 1980's, the product line included 3 styles and nine sizes of plastic chain, plus matching  S-hooks, C-hooks, connecting links, O-rings, plastic clips, and masterlinks.

By 1970,MR Products, Inc.  owned two manufacturing plants - one on Larchwood Road in Troy, MI, and the other in the Village of Copemish, MI.  Around that time, the Company started using the trade name, "MR CHAIN".   By 1975, the Company ceased molding parts for anyone else, and made only proprietary products.  The Company grew and became a supplier of safety and crowd control products for industrial and retail markets.   At one time , there were a couple of other U.S. suppliers for plastic chain, but gradually other manufacturing moved offshore, and MR CHAIN has been the only U.S. supplier for plastic chain now for several years.

Over the years, Michael Russo continued to invent new items and invent new products.  His last patent was issued in 1997 and was for a plastic clip that we still sell as our "MR Clip". See patent information here.  http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/5653004/claims.html

Although, my dad passed away in 2006 at the age of 85, he never stopped working and thinking about new inventions.  His family is continuing his legacy.

Written by Alex Bower — October 17, 2010

Comments

Robert Hoffman:

I just wanted to say Im sorry your dad passed away. I worked for him in the late 70’s helping to design injection molds. He was a great guy to work for and I have fond memory’s having worked for him before going to college. Robert Hoffman

November 22 2011 at 08:11 PM

Trish Kipnis:

I’m so glad this history was put together for posterity. What a great American story. Thanks!

October 18 2010 at 10:10 AM

Mr. Chain:

Thanks, Robert, for the kind words.

November 22 2011 at 09:11 PM

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Call us at 1-800-324-5861 (International call 1-231-378-2251) or email us at support@mrchain.com

Plastic Chain is intended for decorative purposes only. Not intended to support heavy objects. Plastic chain must not be used where a break might cause damage or injury.