After graduating from the University of Findlay in Ohio with a bachelor's degree in marketing, Tori Durliat joined Hercules Tire and Rubber Co.'s precure and retreading division. She worked full time while attending evening and weekend classes to earn her master's degree in marketing and advertising.
She was later promoted within the new tire division with a sales and marketing lead role.
Following Hercules, she worked as the director of marketing for Kenton, Ohio-based mold maker Pleasant Precision Inc. and Round Mate Systems and attended her first NPE trade show.
"Being exposed to all the technology and plastic innovations across the entire industry really opened my eyes to a new world of opportunities," she said in her Women Breaking the Mold survey.
As the director of marketing for Advanced Drainage Systems Inc. in Findlay, Durliat has helped build the corrugated pipe producer's Green Stripe brand, translating to $1.7 billion in company revenue.
Durliat said her current challenge at work is "digital communications in all forms — with technologies changing vast amounts of data can be shared instantly globally." She noted how this has "transformed politics, all forms of traditional business and culture."
"The challenge is knowing and understanding what the next big platform innovation will be and investing in it," she said.
Durliat is involved with numerous associations. She is the umbrella marketing committee chair, safety committee member and management committee member for the Plastic Pipe Institute; marketing committee member, agricultural committee member and research committee member for the PPI drainage division; U.S. Green Building Council member; Ohio Farm Bureau member; and Conservation Drainage Network member.
Durliat was nominated by Steve Cooper, managing director of SCA Communications Inc.
Q: What is your personal "mold" that you are breaking?
Durliat: When I first started attending trade association meetings years ago, I could count on one hand the number of females in attendance at events. Even though I fall into a female minority classification, I personally never felt that my participation was discouraged. In fact, I felt if you were a male or female that was well educated and/or had industry experience and could contribute, you were welcomed to participate.
Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?
Durliat: How some still feel plastics is a newly introduced technology or a new industry. It's not.
Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?
Durliat: Try it out. There is an immense amount of opportunity and growth possibilities. Plastics is here to stay.
Q: If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Durliat: I would create a bat phone. All joking aside, I would travel to all locations and meet as many team members as possible. I would publish my personal number for any employee to call for any reason. I have been fortunate to be employed by organizations and leadership that celebrates communication on how to improve processes.
Q: Who is your mentor or someone you look up to?
Durliat: I have always looked up to my parents. My dad worked for our local post office in the early mornings and when he got off work at noon, he began his second job of working on our family grain and black angus cattle farm until dark. My mom worked right along beside him raising me and my siblings all while driving [the] tractor and balancing the books. They went to bed tired from working so hard each day. I felt they made our lives a little bit better each day.
I am sure like all teenagers I grumbled a time or two helping on the farm, but I am so grateful that I was loved by these two great role models. They instilled the importance of having a good work ethic and gave me the confidence that anything can be achieved or accomplished by working hard at it. Luck was not an option. My parents were very practical people and wanted me to get a college degree in a field that was always hiring: accounting. I will never forget the day when I told them I was switching my accounting degree in for a marketing degree. They had no idea what marketing even was. Even today I am still explaining what marketing is and how it is always changing … because what it was 30 years ago is not what it is today.