Rising Stars: Learning from the past, building for the future

By Jeannie Reall
Correspondent

Published: August 13, 2014 6:00 am ET
Updated: August 13, 2014 1:49 pm ET

Image By: Jessica Jordan A few of the plastics industries' Rising Stars.

Related to this story

Topics Sustainability, Canada, Europe, United States

Brad Wilson

Other Rising Stars are highlighted in part 1, part 2 and part 3.

Brad Wilson

40, SimTek Fence

Title: CEO

Location: Orem, Utah

Birthplace: Evanston, Ill.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business, Brigham Young University, 1997; master’s degree in business administration, Yale School of Management, 2004.

Career highlights: Operations analyst, Mity-Lite Inc., 1997-2002; vice president, Bank of America, 2004-08;  CEO, SimTek Fence, 2008 to present.

Q: Tell us about your family.

Wilson: Married with five kids, ages 3-11.

Q: What was your first plastics job and why were you interested in the industry?

Wilson: My father was an entrepreneur who started a plastics company called Mity-Lite in 1987 when I was 13 years old. My first job was grinding up ABS flashings into reusable resin. I spent several years working in that business in just about every role imaginable before going back to get an MBA, spending some time working in finance, and then becoming an entrepreneur myself by starting SimTek Fence and getting involved in rotomolding polyethylene.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?

Wilson: Every month we hit some new milestone, but the first time we had a million-dollar month was the most memorable.

Q: What was your biggest failure and what it did it teach you?

Wilson: We overstaffed prior to the Great Recession, anticipating stronger growth than we achieved. That meant we had to lay off a dozen people, and the negative impact to me of that event was profound. Knowing that I was impacting 12 different families at the start of what was going to be a deep crisis was tremendously unsettling.

Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?

Wilson: I am surprised that more U.S. companies are not reshoring and using U.S. manufacturers. This seems like a no-brainer to me. We should be taking advantage of the talent and infrastructure of our home country.

Q: Who is your mentor, or someone you look up to?

Wilson: Mitt Romney. He is a great leader, tremendously smart, has great integrity and has raised a wonderful family that cares about all the right things.

Q: What job do you really want to have in the future?

Wilson: Professional race car driver.

Joe Shamatta

Joe Shamatta

29, 3R Recycling Inc.

Title: Founder and CEO

Location: Avon, Mass.

Birthplace: Atlanta

Education: Bachelor’s degree in finance from Georgia State University, 2007.

Career highlights: Moved to Boston before the 2008 crash, looking for a career in finance. Worked odd jobs in an accounting office, restaurant and property management company. Started planning my company in October 2011. Founded company in February 2012. First client order in September 2012. You could say I am a product of the new economy.

Q: Tell us about your family.

Shamatta: My parents opened the first Middle Eastern bakery in Georgia, in 1978, then got into real estate. My oldest brother owns a bar and a restaurant in Atlanta. My next-oldest brother is a captain in the U.S. Army and currently deployed in Kuwait. My younger sister works with my eldest brother in his ventures.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?

Shamatta: Making it through my first year with a profit! I am proud that I have been able to maintain a steady growth rate, move into new material markets, make great new contacts and hire more employees.

Q: What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?

Shamatta: I wouldn’t say I have a “biggest failure,” but more a collection small, frustrating failures. I have tried buying new, different materials and have lost money. I have tried relying on one consistent supplier instead of diversifying. There are many more but for me, it has been a mixture of missteps from learning the plastics/recycling industry and running my first business.

Q: What is your current challenge at work?

Shamatta: Expansion in my region. While I am growing, the competition is still deep-rooted in the Northeast. There are two to four large power players that I have to compete with and it has been difficult to bring on new clients.

Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?

Shamatta: The agricultural plastic recycling industry. There is an almost unimaginable amount of plastic waste created from the farming industry and very few companies domestically capable of handling the waste. The recycling and pelletizing of this very dirty low density polyethylene film will be a remarkable solution to a very serious environmental and economic problem. The most fascinating emerging tech, to me, is being done by a company in New York and it involves turning plastic into oil. I think this technology is one of the most amazing in the past decade. I am looking forward to the progress made in this field.

Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?

Shamatta: You have companies that can turn plastic into oil, water bottles into carpet and old plastic components into new plastic components. It’s really amazing what this industry is capable of doing.

Alex Javier Ramos

Alex Javier Ramos

36, Clorox Co.

Title: Senior sourcing manager, rigid packaging group

Location: Alpharetta, Ga.

Birthplace: Monterey, Calif.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in international business from Clemson University, 2000; master’s of business administration with finance concentration, Queens University of Charlotte, 2007.

Career highlights: Shaw Industries Group Inc., 2000-02, logistics operations manager-Chicago; Maersk Sealand, worked in supply-chain optimization in Charlotte, N.C., 2002-04; General Dynamics Corp., held sourcing/supply management roles focusing on injection molding parts, 2004-07; Home Depot Inc., worked in global sourcing for private brands in tools and hardware, focused on injection molding, 2007-11; Clorox, started as sourcing manager for all bottles in 2011; senior manager of rigid packaging group, 2013-present.

Q: Tell us about your family.

Ramos: My mother and father were born and raised in Puerto Rico. My father was in the U.S. Army and stationed in the United States when I was born. After he retired from the Army, we settled in Spartanburg, S.C., where I grew up. I am married with two children (Nathan, 8, and Sophie, 6). We live in Roswell, Ga.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?

Ramos: Working as part of a large, cross-functional team to commercialize a new trigger-and-bottle system, which ended up winning multiple industry awards.

Q: What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?

Ramos: My first job out of college ended up being a difficult experience for me as I did not have a good working relationship with many of my direct reports. The greatest thing it taught me was the need to put myself in other people’s shoes so I can understand their point of view. Doing this has made me a more effective leader.  

Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?

Ramos: Combi machines (blow, fill and cap); the shale gas boom within the U.S. and its impact on the petrochemical industry; and alternative materials such as polyethylene furanoate, sugar cane and high density polyethylene.

Q: What job do you really want to have in the future?

Ramos: Vice president of sourcing/procurement.

Amy Reynallt

AMY REYNALLT

29, Formtech Enterprises Inc.

Title: General manager

Location: Stow, Ohio

Birthplace: Youngstown, Ohio

Education: Bachelor’s degree cum laude in social and behavioral science (political science) from Ohio State University, 2006; master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in strategic marketing from the University of Akron, 2008.

Career highlights: I have spent my entire professional career with Formtech Enterprises; Inside sales administrator, July 2006-October 2006; Project manager, October 2006-January 2008; Account manager, January 2008-October 2009; Product manager, custom extrusions, October 2009-January 2014; Acting manager of Fairview, Pa., operations, July 2011-January 2014; General manager, January 2014-present.

Q: What was your first plastics job and why were you interested in the industry?

Reynallt: When I graduated from college, I did not intend to enter the plastics industry. Instead, I was looking to gain “real-world” experience while I pursued an MBA. After a short time with Formtech, I was fascinated. It was interesting to see how different companies used plastic, a material that I had been exposed to every day, in so many different applications. Each day presented me with new opportunities.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?

Reynallt: Leading the performance turnaround of our Pennsylvania plant. For several years, the plant had poor quality, late deliveries and low profit margins, resulting in poor customer satisfaction and low employee morale. My team worked to improve quality, adjusted scheduling methodologies to ensure deliveries were made on time, focused on improving the manufacturing processes for our high-volume products and worked directly with our largest customers to improve their satisfaction. Our on-time delivery rate to our largest customer increased from 60 percent in the last quarter of 2006 to 100 percent in the first quarter of 2014. In addition, Formtech has been awarded new business from the customers that were previously unsatisfied, earned higher plant profit margins and improved its employee morale.

Q: What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?

Reynallt: Losing business from a major customer to an Asian competitor. We learned about the business move after it had occurred, which taught me how critical it is to build strong relationships with multiple people in an organization, especially at high levels.

Q: What is your current challenge at work?

Reynallt: Growing our sales and profitability. In the past three years, our sales revenue has grown by 25 percent and our operating profit has grown over 200 percent. In order to continue building, I will execute our business plan and implement new strategies focused on the growth of the business.  

Q: What job do you really want to have in the future?

Reynallt: I hope to become the president of Formtech Enterprises.  

Ted Kaiser

Ted Kaiser

31, Dock 7 Materials Group LLC

Title: Owner

Location: Red Bank, N.J.

Long Branch, N.J.

Education: Bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in business administration with an emphasis in entrepreneurship and finance, University of Southern California, minor in communications, 2005. Also completed a certificate in International Business and Trade from New York University, 2007.

Career highlights: Founded Dock 7 Materials Group LLC, 2008; surpassed $1 million in annual sales, 2011; surpassed $2.4 million in annual sales, began working with agricultural and other related groups to coordinate agricultural plastic collection programs, 2013; established a partnership to begin recycling expanded polystyrene scrap in Haiti, 2014. On pace to surpass $5 million in annual sales in 2014.

Q: Tell us about your family.

Kaiser: I am single. Have a golden retriever named Wrigley. No brothers or sisters. Parents, Herb in energy business and Jan in real estate.

Q: What was your first plastics job and why were you interested in the industry?

Kaiser: Starting Dock 7 Materials Group. I became interested in scrap/recycled plastic while working on an import business selling promotional items and small home décor gifts. The U.S. economy began to slow and the dollar weakness was making it more difficult to earn a good margin. Through working on the imports, I saw many overseas companies looking for scrap/recycled plastic and it seemed like the right timing to get into it.

Q: What is your current challenge at work?

Kaiser: Logistics. Sometimes there is plastic scrap that can be recycled but it is difficult to bring to market because of geography or other logistical issues. It is particularly challenging for agricultural plastics where there might be large volumes of scrap, but it is spread out over a large area.

Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?

Kaiser: New plastics-to-fuel technology. If perfected, it could be a great way to reuse some hard-to-recycle plastics and eliminate plastic waste in places where there is no recycling infrastructure.

Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?

Kaiser: Just the sheer number of different types of plastics, and it continues to grow with different variations. It makes it difficult from a recycling perspective, but it is amazing how many new ways plastic can be used.

Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?

Kaiser: Cash flow is king. The most important thing to starting a business and keeping it alive is cash flow.

Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?

Kaiser: Always have the environment in mind. If we show that plastic and the industry in general is environmentally friendly, it will make our businesses and jobs more sustainable. Otherwise, we could continue down the road of governments banning plastic bags and so forth, which would eventually shrink the industry.


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Rising Stars: Learning from the past, building for the future

By Jeannie Reall
Correspondent

Published: August 13, 2014 6:00 am ET
Updated: August 13, 2014 1:49 pm ET

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