Matthew Zessin, 31
Market Manager, Automotive, M. Holland Co.
Matthew Zessin has always been interested in plastics, specifically automotive. He was raised in the suburbs of Detroit, the Motor City.
Zessin graduated from Marquette University with a Bachelor of Business Administration, having majored in supply chain management and marketing. His first plastics job was working for Polymer Z, an automotive plastic distribution company that was acquired by resin distributor M. Holland Co. in 2015.
"I started in a supply chain role looking to maximize inventory positions while working closely with our customer base," he said. "From there, I moved to external sales as we looked to grow the business with both new and existing customers."
Zessin is now market manager for automotive at M. Holland.
"I have always had an appreciation for vehicles," Zessin said, "and being a part of the content going into those vehicles is so special to me."
He has received recognition for his work with an M. Holland Collaboration MPact Award in both 2019 and 2020 and the M. Holland Business Development MPact Award in 2020.
"Winning the Business Development MPact Award in a difficult year such as 2020," Zessin said of his greatest achievement. "This award recognizes market managers who excel during the fiscal year. There were extreme highs and lows that came with the year, so to win an award showed how my team and I were able to prevail."
Zessin notes two mentors in the industry. First is his father, John Zessin, who has been in the automotive plastics industry for 35 years.
"He has been with large companies such as Monsanto, Bayer and Dow all the way to opening his own plastic distribution company focused on automotive," Zessin said about his father.
The second mentor Zessin named is Dwight Morgan, executive vice president of corporate development at M. Holland: "He is a great strategic thinker, and I hope to have his creative strategic thinking skills one day."
To relieve stress, Zessin likes to play golf: "It truly calms me down and helps me shut off my brain for some time."
Patty Berman, M. Holland Company director of human resources, nominated Zessin for Rising Stars.
Q: What is your current challenge at work?
Zessin: Continuing to develop new applications beyond the next five years to the next 20 years. We need to be very forward-thinking on how materials will change the automotive industry, and it's on my mind daily. I focus on how materials will develop, the increasing use of recycled materials and the design changes that we see in auto.
Q: What has been the biggest impact/challenge on your career from the coronavirus pandemic?
Zessin: Restart of supply for our clients has been extremely difficult. With the allocation process associated with many of the force majeures and the rapid increase in automotive production, it has been difficult making sure our clients are stocked and fully operational. I believe we have been doing a great job of keeping our clients stocked; it has just taken attention to detail to make sure we can refill the pipeline. We are constantly fluctuating and being flexible with our clients' needs to ensure they have the correct product and amount of that product to continue to maximize their business.
Q: What is your biggest failure and what it taught you?
Zessin: My biggest failure came early in my M. Holland career when I first started managing people. I was primarily managing people with more experience than me, which was a surprising learning curve. I saw my age as a negative early in my career, which I now understand it is not. Since then, I have gained more on-the-job experience and gone to different leadership classes. These have helped shape me to become a stronger manager for my team.
Q: What should the plastics industry do to expand its efforts in diversity and inclusion?
Zessin: Recruit. I think the plastics industry needs to spend more time recruiting at different schools because it's an industry that needs to be sold. Being in an industry where you're constantly in manufacturing plants doesn't always appeal to younger generations or diverse populations. We need to continue to promote positive innovation and growth in the industry to recruit the best talent.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Zessin: "Keep conversations relevant." This piece of advice is something that I take into every meeting and presentation. It helps me adapt in real-time and keep my team on track, especially during meetings. Knowing that my goal is to constantly stay relevant to whoever is in the room makes meetings more productive, which helps business overall.