Kaivalya "KD" Shah, 27
Industrial Engineer, Pyramid Plastics Inc.
Kaivalya "KD" Shah was born in Ahmedabad, India. He has bachelor's degrees in mechanical engineering from Gharda Institute of Technology in India and instrumental piano from Trinity College of London as well as a master's degree in industrial and systems engineering from Auburn University in Alabama.
He was introduced to plastics as an intern in India in 2015-16. "The possibilities with plastics is what intrigued me to make a career in it," Shah said.
Today, Shah is an industrial engineer at Rockford, Ill.-based custom injection molder and contract manufacturer Pyramid Plastics Inc.
Shah's personal great achievement is owning his house: "[It's the] greatest because I finally made my dad cry with pride. Owning a house being a middle-class family in India is the hardest thing ever."
Professionally, Shah said his "greatest implementation is SMED," or single-minute exchange of dies, the method for quick, efficient production setup and changeover to reduce time. "This helped us save about $350,000 to $450,000 where I was appointed as research assistant," Shah said.
"Apart from completing my master's, I believe I have advanced greatly because of my habit to provide suggestions to improve," he said. "Getting a black belt in Six Sigma has helped me a lot as well."
Shah said a lesson he learned came after jumping to a conclusion when he was an intern in India. "It cost us a couple weeks of time and other resources. It taught me the skills of being patient and look at all the aspects of decision-making," he said.
He said he is interested in and focused on injection molding. "Given that, I am highly interested to see how the microinjection molding and other table-top injection molding machines will impact the industry," he said.
Shah is involved with the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors.
Q: If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Shah: A CEO would have a lot of tasks. But the first thing I would do is to ensure that the company is following our core beliefs and that we are headed in the right direction by using different metrics.
Q: Who is your mentor or someone you look up to?
Shah: My father is my mentor. I have always gained knowledge and strength from him. His dedication to have me educated has enabled me to be where I am today.
Q: What has been the biggest impact/challenge on your career from the coronavirus pandemic?
Shah: Although coronavirus has not impacted us heavily, it did change our ways of doing business. We are highly critical of our supply chain now. Looking for alternate materials and getting them approved are now core part of our APQP process.
Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?
Shah: My advice would be to start an internship if they are in college to get the real-life experience. And honestly, I would say just go for it.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Shah: Never stop gaining knowledge and always be inspired.