Bill Bartlett started in the plastic industry in February 1970 with Phillips Products Co, a wholly owned subsidiary of Phillips Petroleum Co., and worked in various jobs for seven years. While there, Bartlett obtained his associate in applied science degree in plastic technology from Elgin Community College, in Elgin, Ill., and taught that subject part-time at ECC for two years.
In 1977 he left his sales post at Phillips to buy into Ferdon Plastics Inc., an Elgin-based custom injection molder that was making reflective lenses and tail light assemblies for the automotive aftermarket. While there, Bartlett also served on the advisory board for the plastics program at Elgin Community College and obtained his bachelor of science degree in industrial technology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, graduating in 1985.
In 1988 he bought the remaining shares of Ferdon Plastics from his two partners and served as president and chief executive office until 2001 when he sold the business to First American Plastic Molding Enterprise (www.firstamericanplastic.com). In 1993 Bartlett had helped to found First American as a certified minority joint-venture company between the Mississippi band of Choctaw Indians and Quad Inc.
FAPME has locations in South Beloit, Ill., and Ocean Springs, Miss., with a customer list that includes Perseco (the exclusive designer and purchaser of packaging for McDonald's restaurants worldwide), PepsiCo Inc. and Harman/Becker Automotive Systems Inc. McDonalds/Perseco honored the firm as its 2007 Supplier of the Year, deeming FAPME as its top supplier of nonfood items out of 140 suppliers.
Bartlett, a senior member of the Society of Plastics Engineers, said he also has traveled extensively in Asia, primarily in China, to locate reliable tooling sources to help keep his company competitive.