Timothy Witherow, 30
Senior Manager of Manufacturing, Assembly and Automation
PTI Engineered Plastics
Timothy Witherow got his start in the plastics industry when he was an intern for custom injection molder TH Plastics Inc. in Mendon, Mich.
"I worked with the project engineering group, which gave me plenty of access to all areas of the business. I gravitated towards the manufacturing engineering group and seemed to follow them around whenever I had a little free time," Witherow said. "I was always fascinated with injection molding machines and the automation that accompanied them."
After working as a project engineer and a corporate manufacturing engineer at TH Plastics, Witherow joined PTI Engineered Plastics, a custom injection molder in Macomb, Mich., as a manufacturing engineer, then manufacturing engineering manager and now senior manager of manufacturing, assembly and automation.
His greatest achievement has been achieving six sigma black belt certification, he said.
"It was a long, grueling process that required hard work and was results driven," Witherow said. "It set a new standard on what I believed and helped frame my current way of thinking."
Witherow earned a bachelor's degree in engineering management from Western Michigan University. He is a member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, and he teaches a Technical Academy to local
high school students.
Peggy Whitaker of PTI Engineered Plastics nominated Witherow for Rising Stars.
Plastics News: What is your current challenge at work?
Witherow: My current challenge at work is leaning our company towards Industry 4.0. It is concept that is sometimes difficult for some to wrap their minds around. It has taken time and patience and a thorough understanding to communicate the need.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Witherow: One emerging technology that I am most interested in would be augmented reality. Having the ability to teach someone, hands-on, while in a safe learning environment is incredible. As we continue to grow as an industry, I believe this will become the new standard of learning.
Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?
Witherow: I never realized how small of a world the plastics industry is. It seems some of the colleagues I met years ago are now working with other colleagues of mine. Those types of connections create a pathway for collaboration and can lead to many new and exciting ideas.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Witherow: One of the best pieces of advice I have received was from a former manager. It was a late night of working on a project that finally came together. I looked at him and said, "I didn't think that was ever going to work". He replied quickly with, "It's not always the smartest people who solve the biggest problems; sometimes it's the people who are willing to not give up." That has stayed with me to this day, and I use this quote often with people who work for me.