Mark McGarel studied finance from Loyola University of Chicago, and his first job in the plastics industry was with Chicago-based Flex-O-Glass Inc., which extrudes low and linear low density polyethylene, Butyrate, Poly-Wrap, PolyRib and Sur-Flex packaging films.
"I'm happy to see they are still making blown plastic films on the west side of Chicago today," he said in his CEO questionnaire.
McGarel also held positions volunteering for a small private school — his "most interesting" job because he "had to deal with people who are not concerned about the bottom line and profits" — and working for the Archdiocese Cemeteries of Chicago while in college, which he considered his "most unusual."
Today, he's the president and CEO of Bean Station, Tenn.-based FILMtech Inc., a manufacturer of both metalized and clear barrier films offering a wide range of customizable products to serve markets such as food packaging, pet food packaging, and home and garden packaging. The company has 70 employees.
"FILMtech's culture is rather unique for the industry; each individual takes pride and ownership for their efforts and decisions with both the company and customer in mind," McGarel said.
McGarel said the president and CEO titles have been "a formality" because from day one, "I've always been the 'who do you need me to be today' kind of individual."
"When I started the company 19 years ago, I was simultaneously the sales rep, purchasing, quality and logistics. My goal was to deliver high-quality product to my customers at the right price at the right time," he said. "That continues to be FILMtech Inc.'s goal today."
The company's first response to the coronavirus pandemic included "protective and preventive internal policies to ensure employee safety."
"Second was [to] ensure continuity of supply to all customers and proactively communicate supply chain strategy externally," he said.
The plans for 2021 include being safe, spending less and selling more.
McGarel actively participates in the Association of International Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators; Financial Planning Association; and Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute. He attends trade shows such as Pack Expo and Converters Expo, and the FPA and AIMCAL conferences.
McGarel was nominated by Lincoln Trent, technical sales engineer of FILMtech Inc.
Q: What advice would you give to someone starting at your company tomorrow?
McGarel: Never underestimate the value of personal accountability.
Q: What's the best career advice you've received?
McGarel: As long as people are involved in a process, problems will always arise; it's the way you lead fixing them that creates teamwork and value.
Q: Tell us about a mentor you've had in your career:
McGarel: I think everyone has more than one mentor they take pieces from. Personally, I was blessed with parents who molded my integrity. Professionally, I was fortunate to have my first manager in plastics coach me in focusing my sales energy. Finally, a later boss took a chance on me in my early 30s to educate me on the operational side of manufacturing and building a faithful, cohesive team.
Q: What do you want your legacy to be as CEO?
McGarel: Morbidity aside, it's tough to think ahead into the future when I'm so involved today. I would want all FILMtech employees and customer to continue enjoying their growth and experiences.