Andrew Wooley, 34
President, Houston Plastic Products Corp.
Andrew Wooley got his feet wet helping his father, Randy, a salesman and general manager for ACM in the 1980s and 1990s, at trade shows and attending business trips.
"My father is the reason I am in plastics," he said about his mentor. "I was lucky to be educated and trained by the best in the business, my father. I was able to learn much from his co-workers and his friends in the business."
Wooley graduated from Texas Christian University with a bachelor's degree in economics. He was in the financial services industry at Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch from 2008-12, before joining the management team at Houston Plastic Products Corp., where he is president of the Texas custom injection molder.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way business is done. When your business functions as a family, team-building and teamwork are "hampered," Wooley said, without the regular close contact.
"Maintaining a team atmosphere in the face of a pandemic [is a challenge]," he said. "Our business is like a family: We enjoy camaraderie, handshakes, laughing, lunches and potlucks. We can't do that with the current pandemic. But we adjust and find ways to support each other and maintain a social distance. It's a challenge, but eventually we will return to normal.
"For my career personally, it's been adjusting to the new normal and throwing all the forecasts out the window and starting from scratch," he added.
For those who might be considering a path in plastics, Wooley said to "listen with your ears, read everything you can and understand it will take years before [you] fully understand plastics."
"Plastics is too broad to be an expert in everything," he said. "Go into it with a very open mind and find out what you like and don't like. Then after a few years, focus on what you like and what you're good at."
Wooley is involved with the Society of Plastics Engineers, Houston Grand Opera and TCU Alumni. Wooley has a 3-year-old daughter, which he calls his greatest achievement in life, as well as a 7-year-old black lab-pointer dog. In his free time, Wooley likes to work out and ride his motorcycle.
Q: What should the plastics industry do to expand its efforts in diversity and inclusion?
Wooley: Support and fund educational programs in public schools. Provide opportunities for students to work as an intern in the plants and provide a structured educational program for students interested in plastics and manufacturing. Our students are our country's greatest resource and future.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Wooley: Bioengineering seems the most intriguing to me. Being a few minutes from the world's largest medical district means there will be opportunities to see and be a part of some very cool and exciting new projects.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Wooley: "You'll get over it." It sounds cold, but it was said with warmth. I failed at something and was upset with myself. This person told me that I'll get over it, and they were right. Instead of sulking and being mad at myself, I got over it and focused on successfully completing my next projects.
Q: What is your philosophy related to plastics and sustainability? What steps have you taken to improve plastics' sustainability, either in work, your community or personal life?
Wooley: Consume only what is necessary, and design parts and processes to mitigate waste. Propose reuse where possible and find opportunities for sustainable supply chain management.
Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?
Wooley: How under the radar plastics is in the public eye. Almost nobody realizes how important plastic is to our health, safety and way of life. The average person thinks of straws and water bottles when they think of plastic. They don't think about the lifesaving equipment in hospitals, the PPE to help people from catching a virus, the structural and cosmetic components of their automobiles, the tools and equipment necessary to extract energy from the earth or the sky. Plastic has endless amount of uses, and it's up to the industry to show the public the value we provide.