Scott Conklin, 35
Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Comar LLC
While many people think of plastics sustainability as "an oxymoron like jumbo shrimp," according to Comar LLC Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Scott Conklin, "there are a lot of misconceptions and incomplete perspectives shared by various interest groups, media outlets and individuals."
"I think we all need to educate ourselves and fellow citizens on what sustainability is and is not — holistically and from all sides of the table," the Allentown, Pa., native said. "At the end of the day, I do believe plastics are a net positive, but we must take responsibility to control what we can and partner with others to change behaviors and incentives to create a more sustainable future."
Conklin says the packaging, device and component molder has a clear sustainability vision with environmental, social and governance initiatives: "With regard to environmental sustainability and our product portfolio specifically, we are focused on educating customers and the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) by offering lightweight solutions, post-consumer regrinds and recyclable materials in our products."
A graduate of Villanova University with bachelor's degrees in economics and accountancy, Conklin worked at PwC as an associate and senior associate before his first plastics job at investment firm Graham Partners as an associate.
In 2014, Conklin became chief financial officer of Convergence Packaging, owned by Graham Partners and merged with Comar, then chief integration officer of Comar, owned by Graham Partners and now Morgan Stanley Capital Partners. Conklin has also held roles as vice president of strategy, corporate development and business development before becoming executive vice president of sales and marketing in 2017.
Conklin belongs to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association and American Association for Clinical Chemistry. In his spare time, he enjoys exercising, golfing, hiking, reading, traveling and spending time with his family and friends. He and his wife, Cecilia, just welcomed a baby girl, Zoe.
Mike Ruggieri, CEO of Comar, nominated Conklin for Rising Stars.
Q: What was your first plastics job and why were you interested in the industry?
Conklin: My first plastics-focused job was at Graham Partners. I was the junior member of the packaging industry sector investment team responsible for sourcing and evaluating new investment opportunities. Our investment thesis favored plastics over other substrates. I also worked closely with several of Graham's portfolio companies that converted plastic to help support growth and conduct analyses required to make strategic, financial, and operational decisions.
I quickly became interested in the industry due to the opportunities that were afforded to me through my employment with Graham Partners and ultimately the association to the legacy and reputation of Don Graham. That experience provided such a unique lens into the plastics value chain and exposure to an incredible network.
Q: What has been the biggest impact/challenge on your career from the coronavirus pandemic?
Conklin: Fortunately, the coronavirus pandemic did not negatively impact my career, but it certainly has impacted it and posed several challenges. For the most part, demand for our products (e.g. diagnostic testing consumables, vitamin bottles, disinfectant wipe packaging) had far exceeded immediate supply so we have had to deal with challenges related to capacity and lead times.
We also needed to adapt our sales model to be completely virtual and have relied more on digital tools to engage our customers. It has been extremely encouraging to see the resiliency and creativity that the Comar team demonstrated to support existing customers and drive our new business pipeline despite the paradigm shift in how we execute.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Conklin: The inevitable convergence of traditional manufacturing methods with Industry 4.0 and the integration of electronics with plastics, particularly for health care applications.
Q: What should the plastics industry do to expand its efforts in diversity and inclusion?
Conklin: I believe there is opportunity for the plastics industry to lean in more and be the agents of change rather than taking the lead from other industries like tech or financials (or perhaps those industries are just in the news more). The plastics industry is more geographically dispersed with manufacturing plants all over the USA and the world. Each company and each plant, at all levels of the organization, should reflect the demographics of that community, as it's defined. As community demographics change, employee populations should change, too. Companies will get ahead and create a real cultural competitive advantage if their motivations are genuine.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Conklin: The best advice I have gotten has come from 360 feedback surveys and I would sum that up with a quote from Ernest Hemingway that reads: "It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end." I am very goal-oriented and often need to remind myself to connect with others emotionally and build relationships to create more moments and have more fun along the way.