37, Arizona Pacific Plastics LLC
Birthplace: New York
Education: Bachelor's degree in international relations, Syracuse University, 1999.
Career highlights: Started in recycling in November 2010. Worked in the yard, moved to plant supervisor. Moved to plastics division in June 2011. Have taken the company from doing small amounts of plastics to 17 million pounds recycled annually and growing.
Q: Tell us about your family.
Lipton: Married, one daughter, age 1.
Q: What was your first plastics job and why were you interested in the industry?
Lipton: Started in paper recycling, moved to plastics and was completely self-taught. Paper is large volumes with low profit margins; plastics is low volumes with high profit margins. This attracted me to plastics to grow this division for our parent company, Recycle 1.
Q: What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Lipton: Getting burned on several loads of material for sale. Taught me to investigate who we work with and to be aggressive, yet conservative.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Lipton: We would like to make our own product — plastic bags, plastic pallets, corner board. We could truly close the loop if we could use our own materials to make products out of our recycled plastics.
Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?
Lipton: The secrecy. Companies hold everything close to the vest, don't want to divulge anything. There's enough business for us all. The more we are educated, the better we can be at what we do.
Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?
Lipton: Run! Just kidding. Learn as much as you can, ask questions and overall, have a willingness to learn and get educated.
Q: Who is your mentor, or someone you look up to?
Lipton: The owner of our company, who built it from nothing to over $20 million in annual sales.
Q: What job do you really want to have in the future?
Lipton: Owner of this company.
Q: What do you do to relax?
Lipton: Play with my daughter. The minute I see her after a tough day at work, all of my stress melts away.