Brett Soulliere, 28
Account Manager, Nexeo Plastics LLC
Brett Soulliere's interest in the plastics industry started his second year at Texas A&M University, while taking a required engineering course, nonmetallic materials. The course was a lab and lecture that scratched the surface of the industry.
"In lecture, we learned about the many types of plastics, molecular makeup and general application fits. During the lab, we received hands-on experience with both thermoforming and thermoset machines. We learned about injection, blow molding, rotational molding and extrusion machines, but the majority of our hands-on experience came from thermoset machines," he said. "We were able to develop and create our own coasters and coffee mugs during the lab, which provided a fun experience to drive home the lessons."
Soulliere earned his Bachelor of Science in industrial distribution with a minor in business administration. He started as a sales associate with global thermoplastic resin distributor Nexeo Plastics LLC, then outside growth seller and senior sales account representative. He is now an account manager in Tempe, Ariz.
In 2019, Soulliere won the Sales Excellence Award for Rookie of the Year.
"My greatest work achievement is winning the Sales Excellence Award at Nexeo Plastics after quadrupling volume and doubling revenue in my newly formed territory," he said. "I was a guinea pig in testing a new sales role within the company to target small-share/large-volume molders within a specific region in the U.S."
Soulliere said he is most interested in the plastics sustainability market.
"I think the efforts we've seen in increasing sustainable plastics and resources is amazing. The thing that interests me the most is that there's still so much room to grow. With new sustainability resources and technology growing, we are thinking outside of the box," he said. "I think more people are starting to view sustainability as an actual opportunity rather than just a marketing value, which is really powerful now and in the long run."
One of his favorite parts of being in plastics distribution is that he gets to "touch almost all areas" of the industry.
"My favorite part about being an account manager is getting the opportunity to learn how plastic pellets are turned into everyday items," he said. "I also get the opportunity to work with education systems that are offering plastic-related courses. The majority of this is supplying material for them to run in their labs, but I've also had the opportunity to guest lecture in a few classes at Texas A&M University and share my experience and knowledge with the students."
Q: Who is your mentor or someone you look up to?
Soulliere: I look up to my friend and co-worker Jason Riley. He is a corporate account manager to Nexeo Plastics, and I'm fortunate to work together with him at a few of our molders. Jason is a wealth of knowledge and experience as he's been in the industry for over 20 years, but beyond that, he is always eager to help personally and professionally. He's the first person I call when I have a question or experience hardship.
Jason is a master at turning the negatives into learning moments while implanting optimistic belief that I can and will do better next time. He has a positive personality that makes people want to follow him and form better connections with him. He even has his own tagline when he answers the phone that distinguishes him from everyone else. Ask anyone who calls him and they will tell you that he greets them with, "It's a wonderful day at Nexeo. This is Jason."
Jason has gone above and beyond to be a great mentor and a friend not only to me but also to the many others who have had the privilege of working with him. I can't thank him enough for the impact he has had on me personally and professionally.
Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?
Soulliere: The sheer magnitude of how big the plastics industry is. Billions of pounds of plastics are manufactured every year, and they can be used for something as common as a shopping bag to critical applications such as life-saving medical devices. A minor formulation tweak could result in failure to meet a certain standard, but it could also be an opportunity to create a new plastic for a completely different application. Every solution has a different adventure of how you got there, which is what makes the job so fun.
Q: What job do you really want to have in the future?
Soulliere: I have a few in mind, but I'm most passionate about giving back what I have learned to the younger generation. I would love to recruit and train new salespeople out of school. Having the chance to perfect the onboarding process and provide a structure of how to succeed in selling plastics would be the dream job. To me, being a part of someone's journey and helping them realize their goals is about as rewarding as it gets.