Mercedes Landazuri is attending her third Antec this week, but her first NPE. The 36-year-old is operations manager and customer relations at Apex Colors Inc.
Landazuri was a member of the Plastics News Rising Stars class of 2017.
Q: When did you decide that you wanted a career in plastics? What was appealing about it?
Landazuri: I studied foreign languages at Sarah Lawrence College. I worked in academia and managed a digital printing company before realizing that a career in manufacturing was an option.
I decided I wanted a career in plastics during my first interview with Apex, when they asked me if I would be open to traveling abroad and learning additional languages. I had no knowledge of the industry, but I loved their business model and was excited at the opportunity to travel.
Q: Looking back, was it a good move?
Landazuri: The best move!
Q: Why are you going to NPE or Antec this year? Is it your first time?
Landazuri: This will be my third Antec and my first NPE. My first Antec was amazing. I made great connections that spurred my involvement with the Society of Plastics Engineers.
Q: Do you have any memorable stories about coming to the show?
Landazuri: My first Antec, I was terrified. I didn't know anyone or even how to do my job at that point. My boss gave me a goal of finding out who was heading up a particular company we were trying to sell to, and I ended up, by chance, sitting next to and befriending the president of that same company at the opening gala. That sold me on Antec.
Q: How much time have you spent preparing for the show?
Landazuri: My company doesn't exhibit at NPE, so preparation for my company has been pretty relaxed: setting appointments with key accounts, as well as going through the list of exhibitors and identifying potential customers or partners that I will try to make contact with.
Q: What do you think a typical day at the show will be like for you?
Landazuri: Busy and fun. I've helped to coordinate a lot of events for Antec this year and am very excited to attend them all.
Q: What are you looking for?
Landazuri: Customers who deal with Food and Drug Administration applications or other compliance-driven end-use products.
Q: How will you network?
Landazuri: I'll be attending [the SPE Next Generation Advisory Board's] Cross-Link Your Network on Sunday, [the Plastics Industry Association's] FLiP & Sip on Monday and the SPE Women's Connection Breakfast on Tuesday.
Q: Do you do anything for fun at the show, or is it all work all the time?
Landazuri: The show IS fun!