T.J. Moneta's grandfather immigrated to the U.S. in 1953, became a tool and die apprentice, then started Tri-M-Mold in 1969 with his brothers. In 1993, Moneta's father and grandfather purchased land across the parking lot and built injection molder Bridgville Plastics Inc. in Stevensville, Mich.
Moneta's first plastics job was at Bridgville, where he started working his senior year of high school, then he interned for Bridgville and Whirlpool Corp. Moneta, 31, earned an associate degree in plastics technology and a bachelor's degree in plastics engineering from Ferris State University, as well as an MBA from Cornerstone University.
"I was interested in plastics because of how new the industry was and still is. … I was fully prepared for the plastics world coming out of college, and I have learned new ideas or skills every week that make the company more profitable and also increasing my skill set. Plastics open up opportunity for new and improved processes that are more cost affordable for the end user," he said.
Moneta previously worked for Gentex Corp. as a production support engineer and for Magna International as a manufacturing engineer and process technician supervisor. Moneta joined Bridgville in 2021 after being in the plastics industry for seven years and now works as a manufacturing manager.
"I want to take over Bridgville Plastics after my dad and create a place for my children to work at in the future if they so choose to," Moneta said. "I feel that I can make this business and area better for jobs and get rid of the stigma of a factory is just factory work."
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Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?
Moneta: That every day I come to the shop there is a new challenge for us to conquer. The production floor is a beating heart and everyday something can go wrong, but with the right people at your side, you can overcome any issue with a plan.
Q: Who is your mentor or someone you look up to?
Moneta: My grandfather and mother. My mom pushed me to have a great work ethic and work in teams. I was in sports my entire life through college, and I know how to motivate individuals to achieve a common goal. This is harder with the older generation but just takes more time is all. There was also a process technician at my last job that took me under his wing to learn how to run my area with less stress and more profitability. I have had mentors my entire life and have taken bits [and pieces] from them all to become the man I am today.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Moneta: Adopt and change, or get rolled over and overlooked.