Shea Sowers didn't know anything about plastics when he joined resin distributor PolySource LLC in 2010. But he knew company owner Greg Jacobson and a few of the partners, and he knew he wanted to be a part of their team.
"I was interested in the business, not because of plastic, but because of the culture those three gentlemen had built within PolySource. I chuckle to myself now because I accepted the position without truly understanding my role. I just knew I wanted to work with that group!"
Sowers is now a senior account manager at the company. His list of career highlights includes attending NPE and Chinaplas trade shows and growing his territory from $400,000 to $8 million in eight years with 40-plus new customers.
"My greatest achievement would be the 40-plus new customers. Customers are more like partners to us. With being our partner comes relationships. I've gained some amazing new friends over the course of eight years."
Biggest failure and what it taught you? I was experiencing a really nice growth year, where all the stars aligned. I had a nice piece of business that was transitioning from an ABS material (that we supplied) to a glass-filled polypropylene, due to a chemical that was attacking this ABS part. I quoted and sampled our glass-filled PP compound and kept moving on.
I was in such a hurry to move on to the next opportunity that I did not do my due diligence with this transition and ended up losing the business to a competitor. If I could tell my 27-year-old self one thing, it would be to slow down and not get in a hurry. Growth is not easy and is a lot of work. Slow down and value every piece of business, no matter the size.
What is your current challenge at work? Finding that balance between maintaining my current business along with visiting new potential customers is a huge challenge. What's the ratio of time spent between the two? I don't have that answer, but I know if you aren't growing, you're dying.
What about the plastics industry surprises you? It blows me away what it takes to produce a plastic part. From the design phase, to the tooling, to the resin selection, then to the molder. All these components come together to produce a great part. This is only scratching the surface. I left out the gate placement, vent depths, shrink factors, temperatures of the machines, pressures, cycles times, etc. It's truly fascinating what it takes to produce plastic parts!
What is the best advice you have ever received? Be yourself and do what you say you are going to do. Sounds simple, I know. Trust, honesty, humility.
Who is your mentor, or someone you look up to? Our current president, Grant John, is absolutely my mentor. We both went to and played football at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo. He's a few years older than me, however we have similar walks of life.
Grant will always give you good advice and never lead you astray. Not only is he our president and our leader, he is a friend. I am blessed to have him as a colleague.
What do you do to relax? After traveling for the week, nothing is more relaxing than firing up the barbecue smoker, building a fire pit and sitting around the fire with the family and friends. Also, I'm a sucker for s'mores.