When Chuck VerMerris, former Radix owner, invited Dan Polasky to join Radix in the mid-1980s, Dan was excited to get to work in Process Development. Once he got here, he stayed for more than 30 years because he loved the people, the collaborative environment (whether he was talking to leadership or the team running the machines), and the ability to be creative for his whole career. As Engineering Manager, Dan enjoyed the fast-paced nature of developing new products and getting everyone together to solve a problem. He liked to go out onto the floor, engaging all appropriate parties so that everyone understood what was going on and could contribute to a plan to fix it. There were constantly new ideas coming in to solve customer needs, and he had the freedom to find a solution that worked for the customer and for Radix. Much of Dan’s work involved improving the offering of high temperature circuit sized wires. Here are some of his favorite product developments over the years:
- Sil-A-Blend: Developed because customers didn’t like how messy it was to work with glass-covered silicone wire. He had to get a completely new UL style number created for it because nothing like it had ever existed before.
- DuraFlex: Replaced a Radix product called “Unistrip,” which required special chemicals to produce and did not perform in wet environments. DuraFlex made high temp wire perform better and was easier to manufacture.
- DuraLife: When UL eliminated all previously-approved products in the fire-alarm cable family, Dan noticed the processes used in Sil-A-Blend showed better performance than the old designs. Bob Hazenfield and Jay Osborne further developed this, and Dan is proud to see their success off his original findings.
Of course, the nature of product development is that not everything works – but sometimes a failed idea creates new insight for a different project. He tried to create a 450C rated product by extruding a clay over the conductor. He never had success with it, but the parts he created served as in inspiration on how to extrude silicone rubber – and are now seen on all silicone extruders. Throughout his career, there was always something new for Dan to get involved in and to work with. Reflecting back, he fondly remembers his time at Radix and hopes the people and company continue to grow. And, he reminds us that there is ALWAYS a need to develop new products. If you focus only on what you have, you will get passed by.