Warren 'Skip' Mang, 88, led businesses

Warren George “Skip” Mang had a mind for business. He was quickly appointed to high-level positions from the time he left college, and when he lost a job he loved, he and a partner bought their own company.

They acquired a firm in Norristown that was recording losses every month, borrowed heavily, and expanded the product line, relatives said. Within a decade, the company cornered the market on a Teflon sheathing for vehicle cables that it sold to automakers around the world.

“The company was going to go under. He basically turned it around,” said Mang’s son-in-law, Kim Reynolds. “He gave the company new life.”

On Tuesday, May 16, Mr. Mang, 88, of Haddonfield, died at his home. His son, Jeffrey, said his father’s health had deteriorated over the last year.

A native of Baltimore, Mr. Mang moved with his family to Larchmont, N.Y., for his senior year of high school. There, he met Nancy Ostrom. They dated while in school, but then Mr. Mang left the area, serving in the Army from 1946 to 1948.

During that time, however, one Christmas Eve, Miss Ostrom spotted her high school sweetheart at Grand Central Station. He was on leave and dressed in uniform. He told his family he noticed her as well and how nice she looked.

“It was a fortuitous thing to meet again,” said the couple’s daughter, Cynthia Reynolds. They married in 1950 while Mr. Mang attended the University of Maryland. He graduated in 1953 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. For the last 30 years, the couple split their time between Haddonfield and Naples, Fla.

Over the years, Mr. Mang worked at numerous companies before he and his business partner, Bob Williams, bought Markel Corp. in Norristown in 1983.

From 1958 through 1973, he was director of marketing for the Electro Dynamic division of  General Dynamics Corp., traveling extensively, including  business trips to Japan.

He later spent five years as vice president of corporate planning and development for battery manufacturer ESB Inc.

Later, Mr. Mang was involved in the acquisition of the technology company Exide. He became president and CEO of Exide Electronics, with 600 people working for him.

“He loved that job,” said Jeffrey Mang. When the company was put up for sale, Mr. Mang failed in an attempt to buy it, and lost his job. He decided then that he would never again work for someone else. “He was heartbroken.”

In 1983, Mr. Mang and his business partner bought Markel Corp., which had about 400 workers. The plastics manufacturing company sold materials such as tubing and was losing money. Mr. Mang restructured, first doing layoffs, which his family said was a difficult decision. But as he expanded the product base, securing patents, the company grew into a global organization.

“That was his grand finale,” his son said.  Mr. Mang bought his partner’s interest in 1993, and later Mr. Mang's son and son-in-law purchased the business. In 2013, the two sold the company to an equity firm.

As much as he loved his work, Mr. Mang loved his family more, said his son.

“He was just awesome,” Jeffrey Mang said, recalling that his father always sat down with his friends and took an interest in all of them. “I’m one of the luckiest guys to have a dad like that.”

The Mangs were members of the Union League of Philadelphia, Tavistock Country Club in Haddonfield, and Club Pelican Bay in Naples.

In addition to his wife and children, Mr. Mang is survived by four grandchildren and a great-grandson.

A service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 20, at the First Presbyterian Church of Haddonfield, 20 Kings Highway E., Haddonfield, N.J. 08033.

Donations may be made to the church at the above address.

Condolences for the family may be posted at kainmurphy.com.