Beth Rettig has primarily worked for manufacturing companies with global footprints — not what you might expect for an Spanish literature major. ("Where all great leaders begin!" she joked.)
She went on to earn an MBA with a focus on international business, and she hasn't looked back.
"I've had a great opportunity to work in all sorts of environments, like open pit mines in Ukraine, injection molding facilities in South Korea and manufacturing sites in the South of France. I enjoy learning about all kinds of manufacturing and really enjoy working with people around the world," Rettig said.
She was named vice president of wine and spirits at blow molder Amcor Rigid Plastics in Ann Arbor, Mich., about a year ago. She spoke about her expectations for her first NPE prior to NPE2018 in Orlando, Fla., in May.
Q: Is this your first NPE?
Rettig: Yes, first NPE.
Q: What are you expecting?
Rettig: I expect to learn a lot about new technologies in the plastics industry and identify innovations that we can bring back to Amcor.
Q: I think you're relatively new to Amcor Rigid Plastics. What's been your initial impression?
Rettig: Amcor is a great place to work. The company really cares about its employees, customers and the environment, and demonstrates that every day.
Q: What trends are you seeing in wine and spirits packaging?
Rettig: We are seeing significant growth in the single-serve wine market, which is driving demand for plastic bottles. Our research shows that consumers appreciate the flexibility that PET bottles offer, and they enjoy the ease of taking a single-serve bottle of wine with them to the beach, social gatherings or concerts.
PET packaging has been more vastly accepted in the spirits market, and the growth has primarily been with the more premium brands. Amcor provides these brands a unique, branded, glass-like package at a much lower price point than glass.
Q: Do customers ask about plastics packaging and sustainability? What do you tell them?
Rettig: Brand owners have shown more interest over the last few years about how they can reduce their carbon footprint with PET packaging. We let our customers know that PET is a more sustainable package compared to glass. For example, our 750 ml PET wine bottle utilizes 90 percent less material and 55 percent less energy than a glass bottle. Amcor can also supply bottles that are made from recycled resin, which further reduces the carbon footprint and does not impact the aesthetics of the bottle.
Q: How can the right package help your customers?
Rettig: Our PET package can help customers reach new clientele by offering an on-the-go shatterproof single-serve bottle. Our embossing and design capabilities can help brands retain their premium image while reducing their freight and secondary packaging costs. PET packages are also better for the environment.
Q: What are your main goals/needs related to attending NPE this year? Materials, tooling, machinery, networking?
Rettig: We will be primarily looking at the machinery and tooling manufacturers to identify new technologies that will help our customers differentiate themselves on the shelf. We will be networking with new and existing manufacturers to ensure Amcor and our customers have access to the latest innovations in the market.
Q: What sort of prep work can you do for a trade show like NPE?
Rettig: Prior to attending a trade show, I look through the vendors and prepare a list of the companies I want to visit. I make sure to check out the schedule to identify presentations I want to attend and browse the media related to the show. Then I make sure I have comfortable shoes and my Fitbit packed.
Q: What do you think a typical day at the show will be like for you?
Rettig: At NPE, I have several meetings with vendors planned along with a few presentations I want to attend. I will then have plenty of time to wander the show floor to network with machinery manufacturers and learn more about the plastics industry.
Q: What do you think will be the main talking points at NPE this year?
Rettig: I believe there will be a continued focus on sustainability and what different companies are doing to help the environment. I also hope to see a lot of new technologies that help us continue to expand our capabilities and bring value to our customers.
Q: What are you excited about seeing or participating in?
Rettig: I am looking forward to spending time with vendors, customers and coworkers to learn more about new innovations in the marketplace. We hope to find new technologies that we can bring back and share with our customers.
Q: How will you gauge whether this show is successful, whether the trip was worthwhile?
Rettig: The show will be successful if we identify one or two new technologies to explore further once the show is over. While I have a long list of vendors I want to talk to, I also hope to find something new and unexpected.
Q: What's your strategy for networking at events? Do you enjoy it?
Rettig: Networking is a fun and important part of the show. It is great to meet new people and learn about what companies from all over the world are working on within our industry.
Q: Do you do anything for fun at the show, or is it all work all the time?
Rettig: Four segment vice presidents will be attending the show: spirits and wine; home and personal care; food; and health care. We have a fun rivalry between the four of us. Surely we'll be comparing notes at the end of a long day to see who has the most compelling new idea to bring back to our customers! We will also will be visiting Amcor's Orlando manufacturing plant facility.