Founded in 1953 by Robert and Helen Hoffer, Hoffer Plastics Corp. is a custom injection molder that serves customers in the packaging, automotive, appliance and consumer industrial industries. Hoffer Plastics was named the Plastics News Processor of the Year in 2012.
Alex Hoffer's first job at Hoffer Plastics was to clean the air conditioners on top of the 365,000-square-foot facility in South Elgin, Ill.
"It was hot, boring, and I never wanted to work in the plastics industry after that summer," said the vice president of business development and operations.
After testing the waters in other fields, Hoffer eventually came back to the family business. He worked as an estimator, sales associate, business development manager, sales manager of packaging and director of packaging before landing his current title.
Hoffer graduated from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., with a bachelor's degree in liberal arts and completed graduate work in education from DePaul University in Chicago.
He was nominated for Rising Stars by Hoffer Plastics Executive Vice President Jack Shedd. Hoffer, 36, just missed the age cutoff, but Plastics News made an exception due to his industry passion and career achievements.
Shedd said Hoffer helped build the Hoffer Plastics brand and spearheaded the proprietary product line Trust-T-Lok. Shedd said the growth of the Trust-T-Lok line and the Lok family of products have exceeded 22 percent compound annual growth rate and that it is the company's fastest-growing product segment.
"Hoffer Plastics is on record pace in revenue and profit and will exceed $90 million in 2018," Shedd said in a statement.
Hoffer is involved with his local church and has been mentored by several business owners there over the last 10 years, from one in the construction industry to one in the nonprofit world with manufacturing experience. But in his Rising Stars survey, Hoffer said he has been "blessed with a great mentor" at Hoffer Plastics, referring to Shedd.
"[Shedd] had the unenviable task of being my boss and ultimately working alongside of me as I quasi took over his job, which speaks volumes of his humility. He is a driver, so when I find myself traveling … I point back to his mentorship," Hoffer wrote in his survey, which he completed on a six-day trip to six different countries. "He taught me how to hustle."
Hoffer will be leading the "Trends, Innovations and Discoveries in Closures for Flexible Packaging" panel at Plastics News' Plastics Caps and Closures event Sept. 12-14 in Chicago. He said he attends many industry trade shows that are relative to the company's markets, including NPE.
At a macro level, Hoffer said, his current challenge is "the talk about how bad plastics are for the environment" and his goal is to help change that perspective. "I want our company to think differently about products going forward," he said.
At a micro level, he said, his challenge is finding workers to fill roles and his objective is to ensure the current employees "feel valued and supported."
Hoffer said he and his sisters, Vice President of Brand and Culture Charlotte Canning and Vice President of Value Creation Gretchen Hoffer Farb, have a "G3 alliance" in business. "My sisters are very gifted and similarly rising stars in their own right. Our personal relationships have always been healthy, but we have intentionally worked at our professional relationships as well," he said.
Down the road, Hoffer said, he and his sisters are going to lead the business collectively. He also dreams about giving a big speech at the company's 100th anniversary in 2053.
Hoffer and his wife, Sarah, have three children: Will, 6; Ben, 4; and Sadie, almost 2.
"My wife, Sarah, is absolutely incredible," he said. "She is beautiful, humble, kind and smarter than me."
Aside from his work at Hoffer Plastics, he writes a blog called Bald in Business, "a biweekly look at leadership and life." Hoffer unwinds by reading, weightlifting and exercising. He also plays golf, "but that is hardly relaxing." Hoffer said the best relaxation is "opening up a good bottle of red wine and enjoying it with Sarah."