Kevin Bullinger, vice president of foamed plastics manufacturer Palpac Industries Inc., started working for the company when he was a teenager. His primary responsibilities included machine operation, stacking/wrapping parts and densifying post-industrial scrap material for recycling.
Bullinger, 32, who completed his undergraduate studies in finance and entrepreneurship at the University of Dayton in Ohio, and graduate studies in finance and operations at Drexel University in Philadelphia, said his interest in the plastics industry came in phases.
First, tangible solutions.
"I traded finance for manufacturing and will never look back," said Bullinger, who previously held corporate finance and pension consulting roles at BlackRock Inc. and operations management and marketing roles at Ball Chain Manufacturing Co. Inc. "I love molding/shaping tangible products from raw material knowing the applications are simply endless, the process of helping customers and/or making a product better is truly addicting."
Strategic thinking and entrepreneurship are second and third, respectively.
"I like solving problems in various parts of business — customer relations, internal operations, external industry environment, etc. I love analyzing the industry and how various operations can add value to the strategic competitiveness and positioning of an organization," he said.
He said the biggest surprise about the plastics industry has been "how much growth opportunity for innovative applications and career development exists within the industry." Bullinger is inspired by the amount of research on key issues of sustainability; material enhancements; molding technologies; and product development, such as child safety cap enclosures.
Bullinger, who calls Princeton, N.J., home, said one notable achievement for him has been "managing a team of individuals with varying degrees of expertise" — individuals he would consider family.
"It is a wonderful experience as a manager to enable people then watch them thrive in both the workplace and community," he said.
But Bullinger also said it is a great accomplishment to carry on the legacy of his actual family — his grandfather and mother — by building the third-generation family business with an "extremely strong commitment to our customers, employees and community." He is currently in business with his mother, Jill Bullinger, and uncles Mike Meyer and Dean Meyer — all with more than 30 years of foamed plastic industry experience.
Kevin Bullinger said this partnership and mentorship is "vitally important" for businesses like theirs to survive and grow.
His father, Thomas, also has 45-plus years of welding, fabricating and tooling experience.
Bullinger said he looks up to his brother, Todd, whom he describes as "dedicated, meticulous, industrious, competitive, kind, selfless, focused and a fantastic listener."
"He has a tremendous perspective, and I have the privilege of speaking with him regularly about business topics, issues and situations," he said, adding that "having many mentors/teachers is critical to succeeding and growing our business."
Bullinger is involved with many associations and organizations, including the National Federation of Independent Business, EPS Industry Alliance, Hopes and Heroes Foundation, Dayton Entrepreneurs Club and Davis Center Graduate Association.
Bullinger is married to his wife, Erica, and they have three children: Patrick, Nora and Henry. To relax, he enjoys reading history and thrillers, playing drums and piano, and playing basketball and golf.
Best advice he's ever received: "A person does not become whole until he or she becomes part of something bigger than him or herself, and diligence is the mother of good luck. One must find their passion and go all in, and persistence is key to all success."