Even after 50 years in plastics, materials veteran Jeff Siebenaller isn't leaving the industry behind.
Siebenaller exited his work with resin distributor Ravago Americas in July and now is working part time as a consultant from his home in Florida.
In a recent interview, Siebenaller said his plastics career started in 1968 in his hometown of Warren, Ohio, where he landed a manufacturing job in plastics extrusion with Packard Electric shortly after graduating from high school. Packard today is part of automotive supplier Delphi.
"The movie 'The Graduate,' with its famous plastics speech, came out in 1967 and by luck and happenstance I started working in plastics in 1968," Siebenaller said.
After graduating from Youngstown State University, Siebenaller remained in plastics at Dow Chemical Co. He spent eight years with Dow in Midland, Mich., eventually becoming the firm's product sales manager for high density polyethylene resins.
From there, Siebenaller worked for four years at Cities Service Petrochemicals, serving as domestic product manager for HDPE and export manager before that firm sold its chemicals assets to Westlake Chemical.
Siebenaller then began a long stint with Hoechst Celanese — now Celanese Corp. — where he said "22 years whizzed by only too quickly." Siebenaller held various roles with the Ticona division in commodity chemicals, including four years based in Singapore as vice president of business development for the Asia Pacific.
The last two career moves were a five-year stay with packaging injection molder Letica Corp., now part of RPG Global plc, and eight years in resin distribution with the Muehlstein and Entec units of Ravago Americas. With Ravago in Orlando, he worked in polypropylene business development and commercial sales.
"I've always liked the excitement and uniqueness of the industry, and I think that's going to continue," Siebenaller said. "It used to be that reaching double GDP growth in plastics was as easy as falling off a log. It's still outperforming and there are a lot of surprising new applications."
In spite of recent attacks on the image of plastics, Siebenaller said he's "still excited" to be in the industry 50 years later.
"It's still a wonderful industry with young people still entering it," he added. "And, ironically, there are more polyethylene makers now than there were a few years ago because of all the shale gas that's been developed. It's still a growth market."
Looking ahead, Siebenaller again recalled "The Graduate": "The whole idea from that scene is that the future is going to be in plastics," he said. "I have to say that it's still going to be."