Andrew Dickinson, 34
Sales Manager, Schwing Technologies
Andrew Dickinson has a bachelor's degree in psychology from Rutgers University and certificate of proficiency in manufacturing technology from Mercer County Community College in New Jersey.
His first job out of college was as a process technician at Procedyne Corp. in New Brunswick, N.J. He also worked as inside sales associate and sales manager for furnace products.
"I gained experience with a number of industries and materials: plastics, metals, ceramics, etc. The plastics industry is young in comparison to the processing of other materials, like metals," said the Atlantic City, N.J., native. "It is interesting to see the development of plastics materials, manufacturing processes, their use and recycling evolve."
In 2019, Dickinson became sales manager of Schwing Technologies North America Inc., a leader in thermal cleaning systems and services for the plastics and fiber industry in Princeton, N.J.
"The vast range of products and applications that made plastics is surprising and truly amazing. Plastics are used in medical products, packaging, electronics, clothing, building materials, automotive, hygiene products, beauty and even money — Canadian bills are almost entirely plastic," he said. "Plastics are used everywhere."
Dickinson said his mentor was his grandfather, Samuel Dickinson Jr., who spent his career at Westinghouse, retiring as vice president of nuclear engineering. After retiring, he founded multiple successful businesses. "My grandfather was a brilliant and humble man — a natural leader," he said.
"Before his passing, my grandfather used to tell me: 'Andrew, nobody said life would be easy.' I remember this advice to work hard and always give 100 percent effort," Dickinson said.
Dickinson participates in ASM International, Heat Treat Society and Society of Plastics Engineers. He married his wife, Amy, in August 2020 and likes to watch Philadelphia sports, go to the gym, ski, hike and play ice hockey.
Michael J. Robinson, head of Schwing Technologies North America, nominated Dickinson for Rising Stars.
Q: If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Dickinson: I would invest in the employees. People enjoy to work for an organization that promotes learning and growth opportunities. When employees are engaged and developing as individuals, they are happier, which results in better performance and customer service. Richard Branson suggested, "Customers come second, while employees come first."
Q: What is your current challenge at work?
Dickinson: The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been a challenging obstacle. It is typical to attend events, meet with customers and visit manufacturing plants to develop business. During the pandemic, we have learned to be flexible by using online webinars, video teleconferences and other technological means in order to connect with customers and perform service calls.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Dickinson: The plastics recycling market in North America is emerging and exciting. Now that fewer recycled plastics are being shipped, there is excess plastics waste problem on our continent that must be addressed. Many large corporations have also made aggressive sustainability pledges, which they will have to honor — leading to increase recycling plastics packaging. In addition, the Biden administration may implement new regulations for plastics waste and recycling.
Q: What should the plastics industry do to expand its efforts in diversity and inclusion?
Dickinson: Diverse teams help companies to be more innovative and achieve more success. It is important that companies and hiring managers target candidates where diverse populations congregate, offer apprenticeships to new and diverse talent, and develop a brand identity that showcases their diversity.
Q: What steps have you taken to advance in your career?
Dickinson: To gain manufacturing knowledge and advance my career, I attended evening classes while working full time for several years. In 2019, I was able to complete a certificate program in advanced manufacturing technology. I always look for opportunities to educate myself on plastics processing subjects, whether using articles, technical books, online classes, webinars, etc.