Education: Bachelor's in business management, Penn State University.
What was your first plastics job? During one memorable high school summer break, my father asked if I wanted a job. I had spent my entire life coming into the shop with him on weekends to sweep the warehouse or wipe down the presses for a few hours, but I had never held a steady job at Montrose.
I worked that first summer as a second-shift machine operator, assembling and packing parts press-side. While it was far from glamorous, I had always considered the family business part of my career path, so I was able to grasp the importance of starting at the bottom and experiencing each of the different departments.
Greatest achievement? I have always considered new business development essential to Montrose's ability to continue growing and thriving. So bringing in $250,000 in new business from several accounts within my first few months in a sales role was especially sweet.
Biggest failure and what it taught you? I persuaded management to invest in a bar coding system that would allow us to overhaul the way we input, manage and ship our inventory. The implementation failed. I didn't completely understand the nuances of each affected departments' operations, I didn't secure complete buy-in from each of the department heads, and above all, I didn't do the requisite research on the capabilities of the system.
I learned that addressing each of these three things was essential for the successful implementation of any major change. I was able to apply the lessons two years later when successfully implementing IQMS.
What is your current challenge at work? A largely automated molding operation will allow us to stay competitive with Chinese companies and a burgeoning Mexican plastics industry.
In addition, we strive to keep our tool room lean, mean and competitive. Cheap Chinese tooling has shuttered many American tooling operations and, given that our tool room is so essential to Montrose's success, we are determined not to let that happen.
What emerging technology most interests you? FDM (Fused deposition modeling). We invested in our first 3D Systems printer last year, which we have used to make fixtures, print prototypes, and produce end-of-arm tooling configurations. The printer is small, but we intend to expand this capability.
What about the plastics industry surprises you? The lack of growth of bioplastics is shocking to me. Given the negative perception of plastics and the potential part weight and cycle time reductions associated with certain bioplastics (cellulose-filled polypropylene to name one), I'm surprised that more companies haven't succeeded in persuading their customers to spec out new applications in these materials.
At Montrose, we have switched the materials run in several jobs to a Weyerhaeser resin product called Thrive that contains various levels of cellulose.
Best advice you've received? Never stop learning.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in plastics? It's important to stay connected with other young professionals. Networking prevents you from becoming too isolated and exposes you to new ideas and fresh perspectives.
Who is your mentor? My father has been my mentor since I was a kid. I'd like to emulate not only his business successes but also the way that he treats people.
What job do you really want to have in the future? I would like to one day become CEO of Montrose Molders.
What do you do to relax? I treasure the time I spend with my wife, Jenelle, and our 7-month-old son, James. I also enjoy reading biographies and playing guitar.