The making of an innovator
Don's work and business life began as a young boy delivering newspapers, cleaning toilets and setting bowling pins at the University of Michigan Student Union, fixing and selling old cars, and later working as a machinist at Electro Arc Corp.
After college, Don's professional life started with Baker Perkins in Saginaw, Michigan. A stint in the Army brought Don to the Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland, where he earned a critical skills accreditation in the chemical weapons group. He moved on to Read Machinery Corp. in York, Pennsylvania (later Read Standard Corp.) as Chief Engineer for Specialty Products, and then went to Read's parent company, Capitol Products, as Vice President of Technology.
Don left Capitol Products in 1960 to start Graham Engineering in the basement of a rented farmhouse in Dover, Pennsylvania with no capital and one employee. Graham Engineering grew from a design services firm into a diversified group of custom manufacturing companies with leading international positions in specialty machinery, plastic packaging and architectural window systems, which subsequently led to the formation of The Graham Group.
The Graham Group has since grown to include Graham Capital Company, Graham Partners, Inverness Graham Investments, Striker Partners and Graham Software Development. The investment companies have in turn invested in over thirty companies in building products, packaging, medical instruments, aerospace, electronics, communications, business services and information technologies.
Still located in York, Pennsylvania are Graham Packaging, Graham Engineering, Graham Architectural Products and Graham Capital, however the Graham Group has a wide geographic reach that until recently included Berry Plastics, which is listed on the NY Stock Exchange, and for which Don served on the Board of Directors. In 2011 Graham Group sold its last holdings in Graham Packaging which had by then grown to over $3.5 billion in annual sales.