As senior business development manager at Orchard Park, N.Y.-based Curbell Plastics Inc., Liz Grimes is responsible for the development of new business in the security glazing, safety eyewear, glass and glazing, lighting and construction markets. Grimes will also check in and assist with issues with existing customers and well as contact past customers.
Grimes joined Curbell seven years ago and was hired to work with security glazing and launch SentryGlas, a structural interlayer material used in the design of Apple stores and the walkway over the Grand Canyon, but her roles have changed over the years.
Another focus of hers is on Kydex, a thermoplastic sheet used inside aircrafts and other transportation because of its flammability properties and durability. As the needs arise at Curbell, she said, she handles the product lines that the company is promoting.
Grimes studied chemistry and biochemistry at Philadelphia University, now called Thomas Jefferson University.
Next year, Grimes will be celebrating 30 years in the industry. She got started in the plastics industry at Rohm and Haas Co., which brought the trademarked Plexiglas to market in 1933 and was acquired by Dow Chemical Co. in 2008.
"[The plastics industry] is an extremely interesting industry," she said. "When people that aren't in the industry think of plastics, they think of things like what's recently been in the news: plastic straws and plastics forks and things like that. … I have a huge background in transparent materials and those alone, and since I've started at Curbell, I've kind of branched into more different products. There's just such a wide array of opportunity and design and challenge. I think plastic gets a bad rap. … When I think of plastics, … I think of big engineering feats, the interior train cars, the planes."
Grimes said the best career advice came from someone she worked for early on in her career: "This person said, 'If I don't hear anything bad about you, you're doing a good job.' That was my boss's advice for me, and I took that as, 'That's right. I'm going to make my customers happy. I'm going to make sure that I take care of them well and I solve their problems or do my best.'"
She said 50-60 percent of her work is spent traveling around North America. "Half the time I don't know where I am anyway," she said with a lighthearted laugh.
"Typically when I travel for business, I'm in the aisle seat [and] I'm carrying my luggage," she said. "We recently last year took a cruise out of Seattle, and I sat by the window with a totally different experience. I mean, even going into Seattle is like, 'Hey, I never really noticed this before.' You just look at things different, and your focus is different for business."
Although she travels so much for work, Grimes said her favorite thing to do in her spare time is travel. Her family goes camping on the weekends, and China, Japan and Spain are on her bucket list.
Grimes has been married to her husband, Joseph, for 26 years. She has a stepdaughter, Meghan, 34; daughter, Erin, 24; son, Quinn, 22; and granddaughter, Aliceanna, 3. Grimes has participated in the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Polar Plunge to support her son and community. In 2016, Curbell and Grimes' fundraising team, The Ice Cubes, raised more than $1,200 for the cause and became one of the top fundraisers for the event.
Susan Schubbe, chief human resources officer of Curbell, nominated Grimes as a Woman Breaking the Mold, calling Grimes "an exemplary employee who sets high standards for herself and those around her."