Education: Bachelor's degree in business administration from Nichols College.
Greatest achievement? I'd say its being in the plastics industry at a relatively young age. I get to deal with everyone, from the maintenance managers to top-level executives of pretty sizeable corporations, on a daily basis.
Biggest failure and what it taught you? Losing a sales order. I had a relationship with a prospective customer and thought I had the sale. Then I left on a business trip. While traveling, I didn't stay in as close of contact with the molder as I should have. When I got back, the order had gone to someone else. Keeping constant communication with customers, making yourself available whenever the customer needs you — that was the lesson I learned.
What is your current challenge at work? My youth can present a challenge but not in the way you might expect. While I am young, most people I work with know or soon learn that I have been around the industry for a while, and do not find my age to be an issue. Rather, the challenge is not having very many peers engaging with the plastics industry.
I attended a recent SPI Future Leaders event and even in that setting, I was by far the youngest person there. Perhaps it's because our industry is somewhat unseen to the general public, or perhaps university programs are not pushing students in our direction, but the industry is in serious demand of a youth infusion.
I would like to help young engineers, service technicians, sales people and others to discover the opportunities the plastics industry offers.
What is the best advice you've received? Mike Ortolano, one of Absolute's co-owners, told me, “You can never stop learning about this industry. No one knows everything. No matter how much you think you know, trust me, there is always something new to learn about plastics.”
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in plastics? Try it from the ground up. Get a well-rounded experience from as many angles as possible — engineering, design, operations, sales. Then determine which aspect most interests you. There is a shortage of young people in the industry, so future opportunity exists.
Who is your mentor? My father, Nate Smith. He taught me the majority of what I know about plastics. Growing up, the highlight at the dinner table every night was hearing my father talk about the industry, where he went that day, what he saw being made. Now I have the opportunity to work alongside him, and I now better understand and share the same excitement and passion for the plastics industry.
What do you do to relax? I like to work out, play with my dogs, lake activities, skiing and I definitely have a thing for fast cars.