Four Future Leaders at One Company

August 22, 2023

At PLASTICS, we love to see companies take advantage of the opportunities offered by our Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP) committee. It provides professional development and networking for plastics professionals under age 40. And judging by the members of FLiP, the future of our industry is in good hands.

At PLASTICS, we love to see companies take advantage of the opportunities offered by our Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP) committee. It provides professional development and networking for plastics professionals under age 40. And judging by the members of FLiP, the future of our industry is in good hands.

In this edition of The FLiP Files, we have the pleasure of introducing four FLiP participants, all from the same company— ACS Group of New Berlin, Wisconsin. ACS Group offers auxiliary equipment and solutions supporting a wide variety of plastics applications including material handling, temperature control, process cooling, and size reduction

Cory Gagnon, Senior Marketing Specialist

A native Midwesterner, Cory grew up with a strong connection to the manufacturing world and knew she eventually wanted to work for a manufacturing company. Today, she manages all aspects of marketing for the eight brands under which ACS Group goes to market.

“I enjoy the variety my job offers,” Cory said. Every day is a chance to take on a new challenge, fix something or help a customer. As for the industry, I am always impressed by the types of plastics our customers are creating and how they are being used, from prescription bottles, personal coolers, flooring, pipes, film, toys, medical devices, extruded cables, lightweight composites, and many more, all of these items serve a greater purpose.”

“This industry is vast and has a lot of opportunities for growth,” Cory added. “It’s exciting to see all of the advancements that are being made because of the industry. Things are changing so rapidly, and I am excited to be a part of that journey.”

Timothy Hardie, Engineering Manager

Timothy found the plastics industry when he wasn’t really looking for it. “I fell into it after college without knowing much about the industry at that point,” he said.

Today, he supports a team of engineers working on custom equipment for conveying, blending, and drying products. He manages projects and supports internal teams from a technical standpoint.

Working in the industry has opened Timothy’s eyes to a lot of things many people never notice about everything that goes into products we rely on every day. “I can’t help looking at everyday plastic products and thinking about the manufacturing process that led to them being in my hand.

To other young people who may be looking for an industry to “fall into” and build a career, Timothy recommends looking into plastics. “Plastics have so many possible applications with so many types of plastic material,” he said, “there will be room for innovation for a long time to come.”

Joe Platek, Business Development Manager-Size Reduction

Joe entered the job market in the fall of 2008. “Not the most prosperous time for a recent grad,” he said. But armed with some valuable experience from an engineering co-op program, he had something to offer when he came across an ACS Group opportunity: “I found a great Application Engineer job description that fit my skill set, and here we are!”

In his current role as a business development manager, Joe develops specialized solutions for customer’s scrap reclaim needs—a sales job that makes great use of his engineering expertise. “I get to work on new projects that require a unique view on how to solve them,” he said. “Granulating plastic may seem simple but there are a lot of application nuances that each customer has to work around.”

Looking toward the future, Joe tells people of his generation to consider joining him in a wide world of opportunity. “I find the plastics industry to be ever changing, new products and new materials bring new challenges,” he said. “Given the development of plastics, they’re not going anywhere. There is also an aging work force in the industry; there will be ample room for someone looking to build a long career.”

Mike Tuchaslki, Regional Sales Manager/Central U.S.

Asked how he found himself working in the plastics industry, Mike said, “Honestly, I would call it dumb luck. When I felt I had hit my ceiling at my first job, I sent my resume to a mentor of mine for review. He happened to be the HR manager at ACS Group and included a link to a job posting with his feedback.” Shortly thereafter, Mike interviewed and went to work in aftermarket sales.

Today, Mike spends his time using his technical understanding of products to solve problems and eliminate pain points for customers with the goal of helping them operate more efficiently.

Looking at the industry “dumb luck” led him to, Mike sees much to be proud of. “I love that the industry is so robust. There are so many great companies making great strides to advance the industry,” he said. “Sustainability efforts, technological advancements, and improvements to public policy, it’s great to be around.”

The wide-ranging nature of the industry is, to Mike’s mind, a great selling point for career-seekers. “The industry is constantly advancing” he said. “If you like change and new challenges, as opposed to the same routine every day, the plastics industry will be a good fit for you.

Focusing on career-building

Of course, in addition to working at the same company, the members quartet mentioned above also share membership in FLiP (Future Leaders in Plastics). Timothy is, to use his words, “brand new to FLiP” and looking forward to enjoying the benefits his colleagues already enjoy.

“The ability to network, meet others from the industry has been beneficial,” according to Joe. “I have also made contacts within PLASTICS to be more involved with committees and conferences.”

Cory and Mike have each had the benefit of participation in the FLiP Mentorship program.

Cory was paired with PLASTICS’ COO, Glenn Anderson, as her mentor. Prior to joining PLASTICS full-time, Glenn had a successful career on the equipment side of the plastics industry, exactly where Cory is building her career.  

Mike is enjoying the benefit of guidance from Matthias Sieverding, President/CEO of Brueckner Group USA, another great pairing that fits right in with Mike’s career path of serving customers on behalf of his company’s brands.

PLASTICS is proud to be offering an initiative like FLiP, in which the next generation of plastics leaders can learn from the current generation and build relationships among themselves that will be of benefit to the industry and our association for decades to come.

PLASTICS and the Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP) Committee are devoted to supporting and encouraging the next generation of plastics leaders who will play a crucial role in the innovation, technology and future of the plastics industry. FLiP’s mission is to provide young professionals under the age of 40 the exposure, education and resources they need to build lifelong careers in plastics. Want to join? Want to get your employees involved?  Email: [email protected]