Lauren Garrison, 32
Sales and Business Development Manager, Mega Polymers Inc.
Lauren Garrison started at Mega Polymers Inc. right out of college, as her father, Bret Garrison, is CEO of the Romeoville, Ill.-based business, which brokers and distributes resin as well as offers recycling services and sells toll-produced compounds.
She graduated with honors from Lewis University in Romeoville, where she was a business major with an emphasis in marketing.
Garrison started about six years ago in customer service, answering phones and emails, quoting prices, writing up orders, keeping inventory, supporting the sales efforts and doing some marketing work.
"It ended up being the ideal position to learn about the plastics industry and transition within the company," she said.
Garrison was promoted to full-time sales in early 2020. "Today, I am responsible for much of Mega Polymers' customers and sales business," she said.
"In addition, I work closely with the grinding/shredding department to schedule our eight grinders and shredders weekly in the production of our feedstock resin. It is a high priority to make sure we keep the plastic feedstocks moving in and out at a pace that serves our clients," she said.
Transitioning into the full-time sales role has been Garrison's greatest professional achievement.
"I had plenty of practice in the customer service role, but it's much different as a full-time salesperson. There is so much science and technology associated within the plastics industry, Mega's customers and suppliers rely on me to know this business so that I can better serve them and support their projects," she said. "It's a big achievement and responsibility for me to be able to step into that role. In my new roles, I am learning something new each day and quickly growing into [a] career-minded professional."
The greatest challenges Garrison is dealing with involve the supply chain and roller-coaster pricing, which are "keeping us on our toes lately."
"The biggest challenge, though, is to keep pace with the dynamics of our plastics industry," she said. "Excellent service to our customers (and suppliers) will always [be] our biggest challenge because I know this will separate Mega Polymers from our competitors who might not be so mindful. Being the best at what we do is very challenging and fun."
Garrison said she looks up to her father and Mega President Christine Haefelin, who was highlighted in Plastics News' CEO Issue in 2021. A title Garrison said she would eventually like to have is the president of Mega Polymers or Mega Recycling LLC.
Lauren Garrison was nominated for Rising Stars by Bret Garrison.
Q: What steps have you taken to advance in your career?
Garrison: The only step I'm concentrating on now is to continue learning. Mega Polymers has close to 100 years of combined knowledge. I am working daily to tap into this foundation of knowledge and apply it to our customers and projects. I am fortunate to have such experience to draw on.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Garrison: Recognize, apologize and fix your mistakes as quickly as you can.
Actually, it's "always remember that you are a proud 'servant' to the plastics industry." Listen carefully and serve accordingly.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Garrison: I find all the different markets we serve equally interesting. Certain industries though can be especially fussy as it relates to their requirements The medical and aerospace industry requires me to be spot-on with our products and services. These two industries alone is great practice for zero mistakes.