Aaron Ziemann is surprised by the plastics industry's response to bag bans.
"All of our competitors seem very concerned and are putting a ton of money toward lobbying against bag bans wherever legislation shows up. It surprises me that none of those executives can imagine a scenario in which bag bans bring in more revenue than they ever thought possible," he said.
Ziemann is director of marketing at Pak-Sher, a Kilgore, Texas, company that makes plastic storage bags, food-handling bags, deli bags and carryout bags.
For the record, he's against most, if not all, bag bans. Ziemann doesn't think bans are effective, and he considers them a tax on lower-income consumers.
"I'd much rather see legislation passed that includes the support of more robust reclamation programs, the building of more composting facilities, subsidizes recycling technology, and supports campaigns that educates consumers to reuse and recycle their bags," he said.
Ziemann fell in love with marketing during a stint as a Realtor. So, even though he already had an MBA, he went back to school and got a master's degree in brand management from the University of Colorado at Denver. Pak-Sher first approached him in 2016 to do some competitive intelligence research. He ended up writing the company's marketing plan, then being hired to implement it.
"The plastics industry as a whole is extremely competitive," he said. "So why should our customers buy from Pak-Sher and not our competitor? Figuring that out is the real challenge. Marketing and selling plastic bags and kitchen prep items better than anyone else is arguably the greatest challenge I've ever encountered.
"Selling homes in the middle of the Great Recession was a cakewalk compared to this. The challenge is the real reason I was attracted to Pak-Sher and the plastics industry."
What emerging technology or market most interests you? Bioplastics are very interesting to me right now. Not just because sustainability is important to me and Pak-Sher, but because of how much progress the industry needs to make in the face of the current administration.
Pak-Sher has had compostable and post-consumer products for many years, but haven't been able to make much headway due to the price sensitivity of its customers and the lack of reclamation/composting infrastructure in the United States. But now that price sensitivity is starting to give way to consumer demands for sustainability and bioplastic technology has improved, I have high hopes for our sustainable products.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry? As a millennial in an old and hardened industry, they will probably look down on you. Don't let it get to you. Just look forward. Look to the future and all the possibilities you can bring to it and know that somewhere along that journey, they will begin to look up to you.
What do you do to relax? Day-to-day, I find relaxation in my bike ride to and from the office. Playing with my son in the evenings really helps me take my mind off work, too. He is my light. On the weekends, I'm either brewing beer, hiking/camping with my family in the summer, or skiing with them in the winter. Every once in a while I can squeeze in a rock climbing trip, but nothing is more relaxing than a trip home to Albuquerque to spend the weekend with my parents and siblings.