Collin Hertzler is vice president of sales and marketing at Hawk Mold & Die Supply Inc., a tool shop supplies distributor in Pipersville, Pa., owned by his family. His education was pointing to a career in woodworking, but he elected to work at Hawk Mold. His mother and father started the business in their garage in 1987, two years after Collin was born.
What was your first plastics job? Folding boxes for a nickel each to ship mold components at Hawk Mold. I was only six years old and I enjoyed making "big money" back then. I was not overly interested in coming into this business and was considering a career in woodworking. However, I quickly learned it would be foolish to pass up an opportunity so few have. I found, and still do find, that all the different things our customers do are amazing. Plastic is all around us, and most people have no clue what goes into making the goods they want and need. Many days for me are like being on the set of TV program "How It's Made" and I get a backstage pass to see people employing intelligence and drive to how they make it.
Career highlights? I was a critical member in creating our second business, Electrodes Mid-Atlantic LLC, created in 2008. We stock products for EDM applications at the shared facility with Hawk Mold.
For the next three years I worked closely with my father to develop our product offerings as a distributor to mold builders and processors. We created relationships with several well known suppliers in the industry. More recently I have expanded relationships with more companies.
A few years ago, I recognized the need for an additional sales person. I strongly urged my parents to bring in another talented person on our team to help us be the complete source of supplies as best we can. We hired someone with a strong technical background.
What is your current challenge at work? Time management and communication. A big part of what I do is travel to visit with customers and suppliers. I find it challenging to accomplish all the things I want to do while spending so much time in the driver's seat. Being on the road makes it impossible to communicate on some levels, and difficult at best while using a phone or tablet, when you should be face to face or have a large desk to lay things out on.
What do you do to relax? I enjoy backpacking and woodturning. They both help unwind my mind.
What emerging technology most interests you? Additive manufacturing is amazing. I don't believe every widget will be produced this way, but the way tools and molds are created to produce the volume of widgets needed and desired will change.
What about the plastics industry surprises you? Unfortunately, the waste. I see unnecessary waste being driven by consumers' desire for cosmetic appearance, when it just doesn't matter. There is also waste created by not using the proper equipment and keeping it clean. I cannot believe how much scrap I have seen because of resistance to screw and barrel purging. Even hot runner purging is possible while the runner is in the press. It saddens me to hear about how much scrap some molders produce between color changes and waiting for black specks to go away. In 2017, we have solutions for these problems!
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in plastics? Be a sponge around people with experience, and listen for a while before you think you know best. If you can learn well from others and communicate effectively, there are going to be many opportunities over the next 10 years.
If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first? Introduce myself to as many employees as possible and find out what they do and don't like about their job and place of work. Many companies have mission statements and goals that are impossible to obtain if management doesn't take an honest look at the morale and camaraderie within their company. The weakest link has to be successful for the chain to hold up.