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Wed October 23, 2019

For many, the plastics industry provides more than a job: it provides a lifelong career. But for some, the industry provides even more than that: it provides a way of life for generations. That is certainly the case for Caitlin DeMasellis, who grew up in a home that was the original location of her family’s plastics manufacturing machinery shop.

Caitlin DeMasellis, sales associate and system analyst at Ideal Machinery, Inc. in Holly, Michigan, fondly remembers the days in the early 2000s, as a child and then teenager, when her parents would enlist her help at the family-owned and operated business. “I remember my Mom sending me down to the basement and going through all these pallets to find a part. I would bring it upstairs to be checked and packaged. I started there as a kid, helping out.”

Though she went to college for IT, Caitlin found herself being drawn back to her family’s business at Ideal Machinery. She would spend her school breaks and summers working customer service and helping out there. She enjoyed working alongside her father and brothers and she strived to assist with making the longtime customers feel valued and appreciated. She started managing Ideal Machinery’s online stores and then became a sales associate.

Spending her life in the plastics industry, Caitlin has experienced the ups and downs of her family’s business over the years. She remembers with joy the day her family moved from their home office into a larger, 16,000 square foot facility, only to need to move to an even larger facility soon after due to their machinery expansions. She also remembers the days of the economic recession and how that impacted her family’s business.

Caitlin admires her family’s ingenuity during this stressful period. Because no one was purchasing new plastics machinery due to the cost, Caitlin’s parents came up with the idea to sell and repair used parts for machines. “Watching my family ride out a recession and seeing everyone pull together was really something because we did almost lose our business. I really admired my parents for pulling themselves up by the bootstraps and making sure that we could keep going.”

Throughout the years, Caitlin’s biggest role models within the industry have been her family and parents. They inspire her to “look forward and ask: ‘how are we going to both sustain and grow our company and grow on what my parents did in the past?’”

Looking back, Caitlin can see how she has worked her way up through the business to get to her current position. Caitlin has also seen so many of her family members go into manufacturing careers in the plastics industry and specifically within her family’s business. She advises teens to look into the plastics industry for careers in manufacturing. “If you want a good, stable job, you could find a career in manufacturing. You could innovate a new product people need. The opportunities are pretty much endless in manufacturing.”

Looking to the future, Caitlin can see herself always being a part of her family’s business. She indicated that she is looking forward to bringing on some of her nieces and nephews to the Ideal Machinery team, joking that it is a family “rite of passage” to help out with the business. On a serious note, Caitlin remarked that there is no reason for her to leave her family’s business. According to her: “I have been in the plastics industry my whole life and there is always something to learn.”

The FLiP Files is a blog series spotlighting young professionals who are active in PLASTICS' Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP), a group for plastics professionals under the age of 40.  For this FLiP File, we spoke with Caitlin DeMasellis, sales associate and system administrator at Ideal Machinery, Inc., about her experience working in the plastics industry.  Interested in participating?  Please contact: Katie Hanczaryk at KMasterson@plasticsindustry.org.