Joseph “Joe” Bennett was born October 30, 1944 in Yancey County, North Carolina. He was the son of the late Colonel Barlow “C.B.” Bennett and Mary Young Bennett. Joe attended Washington College Academy in Tennessee. He started his career as a Tool & Die/Moldmaker with Western Electric in Indianapolis, Indiana. While in Indiana, Joe also attended Purdue University. Afterwards, he moved back to North Carolina to accept a position as Tooling Engineer for Decorative Components, Inc. in Forest City, NC.
In 1970, Joe became the co-founder of United Southern Industries. Five years later, United Southern was bought by R.P. Industries, and Joe became Operations Manager. He was soon promoted to President where he was instrumental in the development of numerous markets, including telecommunications and data processing equipment. R.P. Industries later bought Isoplast, Inc. and in 1982, Joe was made President and General Manager of the Ellenboro operation.
As a boy from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Joe inherited a strong work ethic striving for excellence in both his personal and professional life. As a strong supporter of education, Joe constructed and equipped a state-of-the-art computer learning lab for his employees. He wanted them to receive onsite training in computer operation and plastic technology, and offered access to company sponsored courses offered through various universities and colleges.
Joe believed in the importance to sharing knowledge with others and seeking to improve the technology in the plastics industry. That’s why he was a member of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) for over 50 years, serving as President and Councilor for the Carolinas Section, and as National Education Chairman. He was a member of the Society of Plastics Industry Trade Association (SPI) for 30 years, serving on the National Board of Directors. While with SPI, Joe spent countless hours establishing the National Plastics Certification program for machine operators. But perhaps his most lasting contribution was meeting the challenged to match a $100,000 grant for an educational endowment – the Richard Goolsby Scholarship. Closer to home he helped establish a two-year curriculum for Plastics l at Isothermal Community College.