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Machinery Executive Yokana Dies

Founder of Sterling and Merritt Davis was 89.


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Long-time plastics machinery executive Lucien Davis Yokana, perhaps best known as the founder of the former Sterling Extruder Corp., died late September at his home in Princeton, N.J. He was 89. 

Yokana's son is machinery executive Alexander D. (Sandy) Guthrie, currently the owner of ADG Solutions in Fairfield, Ct. 

Yokana graduated from Princeton University in 1948 with a BSE in engineering. He started in plastics shortly thereafer as a machine designer for Hartig Machine, rising to the position as head of sales in a few years. In 1959, he founded Sterling in Linden, N.J. Under his leadership, Sterling became one of the industry's powerhouse extrusion machinery builders, highlighted by a single order placed by Owens Illinois for 360 extruders that still stands as one of the largest ever placed in extrusion.

Yokana was considered by many as an innovator in sheet, compounding and blown film. He was the inventor of the Sterlex screw, one of the first barrier screws in the market.  In the 1970s, he was also instrumental in changing the standard screw length from 24:1 to 30:1 L/D.  Sterling also had a  blow molding division that was considered a pioneer in large-part accumulator-head technology. 

In 1968, Yokana acquired Davis Electric, which he later combined with Merritt Extruder to form Merritt Davis. Merritt Davis was known for its advanced winding technology in wire and cable. It was also one of the first companies to build lines for fiber optic production, and was a leader in recycling technology and extruder design. He remained as the chairman until Merritt Davis was sold to Davis Standard in 2005.

A holder of numerous patents, in the early 1960s Yokana won a landmark legal case related to trade secrets and unfair competition, which was eventually heard by the U.S. Supreme Court and stands as an important precedent even today.  He continued to serve on numerous boards and consult in the plastics field up until his final days.

He is survived by his brother Andre Yokana, two sons; Sandy and Lucien S.Y. Guthrie; three daughters: Ariane G. Peixoto, Isabelle G. Yokana and Alice G. Barfield; and seven grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Nov. 10 at 11 AM. at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Princeton.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Trinity Episcopal Church, 33 Mercer Street, Princeton, N.J. 08540.