As a way to recognize young talent making their mark on the packaging and processing industries, PMMI set out to find 10 rising stars. OEM Magazine spoke with each On the Rise Award winner to learn about the challenges they have faced and overcome, as well as where they see the packaging and processing industries heading in the near future.
Quality Manager, Formers International
Throughout his time at Formers International, Xavier Gonzalez has had the opportunity to lead special projects that have developed new products, gained new customers, and adopted new processes. Most recently, he oversaw the company’s process of obtaining an ISO 9001:2015 certification, which is an international standard for a quality management system. Creating and preparing the required documentation, implementation of employee training, and establishing departmental procedures were just a few things he has contributed to in the process of receiving the certification.
“Obtaining this certification has and will greatly impact the internal and external success for our business,” Gonzalez says. “This process is something I am very proud to say I am a part of.”
Vice President of Business Operations, Spec Engineering
Meredith Perry has grown and evolved alongside Spec Engineering. When she started at the company in 2011, Spec was a very small company, working to grow in the industry. Her role shifted from administrative support to sales and marketing management, and now, to vice president of business operations. She has had the chance to learn all sides of the business and help Spec grow from five employees to 100.
“I help my company innovate by actively challenging colleagues and senior leadership to question why we do things the way we do and not to get complacent,” Perry says. “From a marketing perspective, I take pride in supporting our team to keep up with trends in the market and bringing that perspective to the rest of the company.”
Marketing & Sales Specialist, Hiperbaric
Anthony Zapata says his time at Hiperbaric has been valuable and purposeful. Through collaborative work with the company’s marketing team in Spain, Zapata has helped to rebrand Hiperbaric and launch a new website, while enhancing sales operations, data analysis, and lead management practices. Zapata’s team has also introduced new marketing initiatives aimed at establishing Hiperbaric as an industry thought leader, including successfully executing its first virtual conference, HPP Innovation Week 2021.
“I’m always keeping up with the fast pace of the marketing industry and learning about new tools that can help meet our marketing goals and make our strategies more efficient,” Zapata says. “Being in such a niche industry, brand awareness and thought leadership are critical in the success formula of our marketing plan. Over the course of two years, we’ve executed on a strong content marketing plan that has served as a resource to educate and nurture our leads.”
Manufacturing Coordinator, Kolinahr Systems, Inc.
Since Shannon Leiter joined Kolinahr Systems, her role has been ever-expanding. She began working in assembly and then was given responsibilities in purchasing, spare parts, and then, orders and shipping. Kolinahr is currently transitioning from old technology into the new era of robotics in end-of-line packaging and production volume. Through this transformation, Leiter has pushed for innovations in the standardization of parts and practices and Lean techniques while keeping her eye on the recent trends toward sustainability, predictive maintenance, and augmented reality service calls.
“Every young female engineer has had to face not being taken seriously in a male-dominated field,” Leiter says. “Lack of confidence is a major hurdle that you have to overcome. Through their professional guidance and faith in my abilities, mentors, like my dad, have helped to develop that confidence to keep me moving forward in my career.”
Mechanical Engineer, Polypack, Inc.
Being a mechanical engineer, Aum Patel is at the forefront of the innovation process at Polypack. He gets to design and innovate new solutions by developing new engineering concepts and simplifying assemblies that advance the industry toward a more efficient and sustainable process, which is very important to Polypack.
“I started as an intern at Polypack in 2018,” Patel says. “After my initial internship working with the engineering department, I was brought back for a second round as a part of the controls department with the objective of advancing the integration between the engineering and controls departments. At the end of this internship, I was offered a full-time position as a mechanical engineer initially working with the controls department programming the packaging machines. Then, I transitioned to the engineering department designing the machines. As a mechanical engineer, you don’t get many opportunities to learn about the controls and programming aspect of packaging machinery. But I am glad I was given this opportunity to learn about the controls side of the machines, which made me a better mechanical engineer.”
Senior Marketing Specialist, Ossid LLC, a ProMach brand
As the senior marketing specialist, no two days are the same for Stacie Eberly, which she loves. Eberly’s role is to plan, promote, and execute Ossid’s presence at industry tradeshows and events. Another major element of her role is creating content for the company’s website, social media, email marketing, collateral development, advertising, editorial content, and blog posts. She is focused on completing her MBA degree and she hopes to bring Ossid’s marketing maturity to a new level of sophistication, providing a customer-focused experience, and expanding the company’s reach into new markets.
“Prior to working within the packaging industry, I worked for a reputable manufacturer, but there were mixed feelings about the importance of marketing, and the value a young female could bring to the organization,” Eberly says. “At Ossid, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with a supportive and encouraging supervisor. She’s created an environment where we can freely bounce around ideas, test out new tactics and bring those successes and lessons learned into each new project with the goal of getting better as we go. The leadership of Ossid and ProMach as a whole, understand the value marketing can bring to the organization.”
Production Engineer, Bevco
Kevin Fortier is involved in projects from the very beginning planning stages through the final installation and startup of the production line, and he wears many hats. He designs conveyors and equipment, generates drawings and parts lists for the production shop, performs safety and quality control inspections, coordinates with OEMs, and transfers information between the engineering department and production shop, while also working as a project manager.
“I love many aspects of my job, but by far the most fascinating part for me is starting up a brewery canning line for the first time,” Fortier says. “There is always a feeling of excitement for this moment from everyone involved in the project. Hours, months, and sometimes years of planning, coordinating, manufacturing, installing, and troubleshooting have led up to this moment. Everyone looks forward to seeing those first cans sweep off the palletizer, along the conveyor, and through the filler. The cherry on top is seeing the product on the shelf at a local beer store, taking it home, and cracking it open to have a taste of the ice-cold beer from a brewery where I helped make canning their product possible.”
Aftermarket Lead, BluePrint Automation
Alexandra Francis is responsible for BluePrint Automation’s aftermarket growth as the company’s aftermarket lead. With the help of her team, Francis improved BluePrint Automation’s aftermarket business and revenue. During the height of the pandemic, the company couldn’t travel as much, which propelled Francis to develop an online training program that they could use to continue to support customers even when they were unable to be on site. She also created a revenue pipeline tool specifically for aftermarket, which is used to provide visibility on sales opportunities for service, spare parts, and to upgrade business monthly.
“Have you seen some of the robotics that go along with our equipment?” Francis says. “Watching these machines pick and place the products at the speeds that they do is extremely impressive. The ability of our engineers to design customized equipment and watch it come to life is fascinating. I recently went to a customer’s site whose machine was built over 20 years ago and to know that we build machines that are that durable and sustainable has made me appreciate the automation side of the industry. I am excited to continue to grow within the company.”
Account Manager, Intralox
Alicia Swayze has been at Intralox for the last two years, and most recently, started a new position as an account manager. She is responsible for discovering new projects, developing client relationships, and turning connections into true partnerships for the company’s beverage account, specifically the brew segment.
“My advice to other emerging leaders would be to follow your passion,” Swayze says. “You can always learn the technology, which does take time and initiative, but don’t ever let your fear of not being an expert impede where you want to go. If you have a passion and are willing to put in the time to learn, nothing should stop you.”
Aftermarket Sales and Service Manager/ Project Manager, Morrison Container Handling Solutions
Seth Licke joined Morrison Container Handling Solutions as an inside sales manager, and within six months, was promoted to aftermarket sales and service manager. During that time, Morrison experienced a 663% increase in sales from the previous year. Most recently, Licke accepted the challenge of project manager and was instrumental in Morrison’s Thermo Fisher COVID-19 Test Kit Project success. Thermo Fisher initially requested 16 lines to increase their production of COVID-19 test kits. This request was quickly followed by another 15 lines bringing the total to 31. Under normal circumstances, 16 lines would take years to deliver. Licke, along with the team, worked around the clock to begin delivering the first 16 requested lines within three months. Thermo Fisher’s production of test kits increased 20,000%—providing the ability to produce 5.3 million kits every day.