40, SimTek Fence
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.