Early in his plastics career, Garry A. Markle said Spiratex Co. founder Hugh Archer taught him the value of thinking outside the box.
Now as president and CEO of the thermoplastic extrusion company with headquarters in Romulus, Mich., Markle said the ability to look beyond the obvious answers is even more important.
"Be ready for change," Markle wrote about the company's plans for 2021 and beyond. "The effect of the pandemic has changed the landscape of how we do business. We must embrace change as an opportunity [and] proactively respond."
Markle, 55, was named CEO and president of Spiratex in 2016. The company's Romulus site specializes in screw extrusion, while a Monroe, Mich., facility focuses on ram extrusion.
He has a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Toledo in Ohio. While studying at Toledo, he was a students' technician in the university's computer services department, which meant that he was able to see how different people adapted to the widespread use of computer technology in the 1980s.
He first moved into plastics in an engineering department with responsibility for die design and equipment purchases.
Archer was one of many mentors, being able to provide him with expertise in sales, engineering, science, and research and development.
"One of my goals upon becoming CEO was to leverage the knowledge and know-how of both our Romulus and Monroe locations to become more collaborative and share best practices of both facilities," he said.
Q: What's the best career advice you've received?
Markle: Say what you do and do what you say.
Q: What advice would you give to someone starting at your company tomorrow?
Markle: Don't hesitate to contribute new ideas and don't be afraid to question everything you do.
Q: How has your company responded to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Markle: COVID-19 has forced us to be more flexible and have a greater sense of urgency in responding to market and economic conditions.
As an essential employer, we had to grapple with how we meet the needs of our customers and shareholders, while keeping our employees and work environment safe. We strengthened our communication with employees to respond to and alleviate concerns and fears, conducted training to educate our workforce and instill pride in our designation as an essential employer, educated our workforce on prevention of contracting COVID, and instituted safety practices and protocols to ensure a safe work environment.
We also recognized our responsibility to provide a means for our employees to be able to earn a livelihood to take care of their families. We worked closely with our customers to prioritize deadlines and establish a stable pipeline of business.
Q: What do you want your legacy to be as CEO?
Markle: It is my hope that my tenure as president and CEO will have permeated my desire for a continual learning environment. That employees continue to challenge themselves to think outside the box and pursue perpetual learning opportunities. As a result, the business continues along the path of profitable growth, providing jobs and careers for our employees.