Linda Balwinski was looking to leave an unfulfilling job in 1993 and, through a family connection, learned about an open position with a startup operation that fabricated custom packaging. Twenty-eight years later, she's still in the industry.
"I find [the industry] so interesting because not one day is the same as the next," she said. "And I love helping people solve a problem by providing a product concept that responds to their needs."
Balwinski said she has been blessed to work for plastics industry leaders who have allowed her to explore many roles, including product development, marketing, engineering management, operations management and sales.
"This diverse experience has allowed me to step back and see the larger picture and communicate more effectively with different departments," she said.
As Midwest regional manager for Richmond, Ind.-based Primex Design and Fabrication, a division of Primex Plastics and manufacturer of custom, reusable plastic packaging solutions, Balwinski leads the sales team and is responsible for profitable sales growth, leadership and servicing of key accounts.
"On a professional level, being a sales manager in an industrial manufacturing environment is breaking a mold. It used to be you didn't see many women calling on production facilities," she said. "I love walking into a plant and seeing how things are made. Personally, the mold I am breaking is the art of letting go of the dialogue in my head and expectations I think people may have of me."
Balwinski has an associate degree in business management from the University of Kentucky and a bachelor's degree in business and marketing from Wilmington University.
She has a side business facilitating mindfulness retreats. "My mission is to introduce mindfulness — state of awareness — in all aspects of a person's life, resulting in improved mental and physical health, more meaningful relationships and community strength," she said.
Balwinski was nominated by Kayla Clevenger, executive administrative assistant for Primex.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Balwinski: We work with the automotive industry a lot in our business. Electronic vehicle technology is changing the landscape of materials being used in the body of the car. Lighter weight plastic is replacing steel or wood components in some cases. Our business offers an innovative plastic sheet able to respond to this demand.
Q: Greatest achievement?
Balwinski: One of my most memorable achievements is when I became the engineering manager for a design engineering team. Not only was I not an engineer, but I was a woman in a male-dominated group. They did not make things easy for me. But over time I earned their trust and respect. Not only did we have a mighty team after some time, I have reaped the benefits of some great lasting friendships
Q: Who is your mentor or someone you look up to?
Balwinski: There is no one person I look up to as I have many for different aspects in life. But our current business leader, Doug Borgsdorf, inspires me with his out-of-the-box thinking and his strong commitment to family and community.