Andy Caperton, 29
Senior Process Engineer
Grand Traverse Plastics
Andy Caperton first dipped his toes in the plastics water in 2006 when he worked part time at his father's tool and die shop. His father has been a mold maker for more than 30 years and started his own business in 2004, but it was not able to make it through the downturn of 2008.
Caperton worked at a farm then joined Williamsburg, Mich.-based Grand Traverse Plastics, a Tier 1 supplier of plastic parts for the automotive, material handling, commercial vehicle and industrial industries, on his father's recommendation "since he was very familiar with how good of a company Grand Traverse was," Caperton said. Caperton's father works for the company as a tool room supervisor.
"I became interested very quick because I had already had a good understanding of equipment and production from what I had learned on the farm," he said.
Becoming a senior process engineer and being trusted with day-to-day operations of running a plastic injection molding plant, Caperton said, has been his greatest achievement.
Caperton is involved in the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors, Michigan Technology Academy Mentor Program, Grand Traverse Area Manufacturing Council and Northern Michigan Lean Manufacturing Champion Program.
Jeff Ignatowski, vice president of sales and marketing for Grand Traverse Plastics, nominated Caperton for Rising Stars.
Plastics News: If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Caperton: Depending on the size of the company, I would tour all the parts of the facilities so that I can introduce myself and talk with all the employees. They are the most important part of a company and by showing my face and getting on a personal level with them I can understand all the work conditions and get their opinions.
Q: What steps have you taken to advance in your career?
Caperton: Being involved in as many manufacturing/plastics related classes as I can. Working with others, whether its RJG or material suppliers or equipment manufacturers to get as much knowledge as I can from those outside sources.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Caperton: No matter what you decide to do in your life to do it the best of your ability.
Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?
Caperton: Some of the best knowledge you can obtain is by learning out on the plant floor. And to always have an open mind when it comes to what you think you know.
Q: Who is your mentor or someone you look up to?
Caperton: Mike Tress is vice president of manufacturing. He, too, started in the plant floor in maintenance and eventually worked his way up to the position he's in now. He's taught me so much and always gave me the right mentality about showing up every day and that, himself, even after 30 plus years in manufacturing, there's not a day that goes by where he isn't learning something new.
Q: What job do you really want to have in the future?
Caperton: I would like to be the president of Grand Traverse Plastics.