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Trion Industries Announces the Death of President John S. Thalenfeld

He passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, February 4, 2024.

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(PRESS RELEASE) WILKES-BARRE, PA — It is with great sadness that Trion Industries announces the untimely and unexpected death of John Thalenfeld, president, who passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, February 4, 2024. Thalenfeld was the son of company founder David Thalenfeld.

John S. Thalenfeld

John S. Thalenfeld

“All who knew him, his corporate endeavors, and years of involvement in community charitable efforts mourn this unfathomable loss. The corporation’s officers, management, and employees extend our deepest sympathies to the Thalenfeld family and pledge to carry on with all of John’s undertakings in his absence. There will be no changes in the operation or management of the company. John would want us to continue serving our customers and our community to the best of our abilities,” the company released in a statement.

Born in Queens, NY, in 1956, Thalenfeld began his career with the company in 1972 as a packer, working his way up through virtually every job function before being named president and CEO in 1986, a position he has held ever since.

The younger Thalenfeld learned first-hand experience working in the family’s five-and-dime store as a child, and later working directly under his father at the newly formed Trion Industries.

After attending New York University and Wilkes College, the younger Thalenfeld was a moving force behind relocating the factory to Wilkes-Barre PA, and has advanced an environmental stewardship and community and employee engagement agenda unique to Trion.

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The Complete History of Trion Industries, Inc.

Trion Industries was founded in 1965 as a partnership by three friends who wanted to be in business together, making something different.

David Thalenfeld owned a chain of five-and-dime stores — stores that were much like the Woolworths stores of the day. This experience made him familiar with the problems of inventory stocking and displays in the retail environment.

Thalenfeld conceived the idea for a pegboard hook which didn’t have to be tilted up to put it in or remove it from the pegboard — the first straight-entry hook. This was the original Spacemaker 100/200 series hook. The design was patented by the partnership and two suppliers were found to produce the wire part, a stamped steel part, and to assemble them. Because it made it much easier to move hooks filled with cards of merchandise, and therefore easier to change displays, Woolworths started to buy the hooks, and the new business became successful.

The company was founded in Brooklyn, NY. After one and one-half years, one of the original partners left the concern, putting Thalenfeld and his remaining partner in joint control. During this period, the hooks were manufactured by Custom Metal Products of Ridgefield, NJ along with a second firm. Trion designed the products, contracted for their manufacture, warehoused, and sold them.

In 1970, Thalenfeld commissioned Custom Metal Products to manufacture another new design. They were to make a machine to produce a unique new hook with a flat metal back and a ball end. The hook became a standard in the industry and the machine design that produced it was adapted by the wire-forming industry for use throughout the world.

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In 1978, Trion introduced the first Scanning Hook, resulting in another revolution in the marketing of products, and the tracking of inventory, sales, and consumer purchasing patterns. Scanning Hooks are now commonplace in every retail environment.

Trion grew and moved several times; first to a 5,000-square-foot building in Great Neck, NY in 1970, then to a 17,000-square-foot building in Garden City, NY in 1977. John Thalenfeld, the son of David Thalenfeld, joined the company, taking a position in the warehouse and doing shipping. In 1982, the firm moved to its present location in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

As the business grew, it became necessary for Trion to manufacture hooks to be competitive and meet its commitments to customers and their ever-increasing order volumes. Custom Metal Products, the trusted and long-standing original supplier, was acquired and moved to the Wilkes-Barre location in June 1982. Trion had purchased a 50,000-square-foot building, but, for the first year, was able to use only 25,000 square feet of the space. Nevertheless, the business continued to grow, more patents were obtained, and additional items were added to the line as well as additional machinery for manufacture.

In 1986, John and David Thalenfeld bought out Rubin’s interest in the company. John Thalenfeld became president, and David Thalenfeld became chairman. Continuing growth required expansion of the building and the addition of 50,000 square feet around the perimeter of the existing building was completed in November 1988.

Over the years a new warehouse has been built, connecting the original Trion building complex with the converted 75,000-square-foot Northeast Drywall Building to the west. A product showroom, assembly department, packing department, powder coat finishing line, and select administrative offices are located in this expansion. Additional warehouse space was added bringing our production and logistics footprints to nearly 500,000 square feet.

One key to Trion’s growth has been its ongoing investment of profits in new equipment and automation. The multi-slide wire forming OMCG machines, and automated welding, enable Trion to operate at maximum efficiency and be the low-cost, leading producer in the industry. Eleven new sophisticated co-extrusion lines extend Trion’s capability in the plastics field. In 2006, a completely new powder coating system was installed boosting production and increasing environmental protections.

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This new equipment, in combination with loyal, long-term experienced employees, and a dedicated supervisory staff is responsible for Trion’s ongoing success. The innovation and creativity of David Thalenfeld and the engineering staff have resulted in more than 120 patents and additional product growth for the company. Though David Thalenfeld passed away in May of 2009, the legacy of his inventiveness and business acumen continued within the company, headed solely by John Thalenfeld, who will be greatly missed by his family, employees, community, and the industry at large.

Trion Industries is rated among the top 50 North American retail and point-of-purchase fixture makers and is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of display and scanning hooks. Product lines include shelf management systems, cooler and freezer merchandising systems, storewide labeling systems, anti-theft and security fixtures, bar merchandisers, sign systems, display and scanning hooks, POP display components, and hardware. More information can be found at triononline.com.

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