Madeline Kline, of Gardner Business Media is a woman of her times.

“I listen to podcasts and music every day,” said Madeline. “My headphones are just one of the plastic products I couldn’t live without.” And she isn’t alone. Activists who want a plastics-free society may want to think twice about what they would be giving up, especially in today’s highly connected world. How many people opining against plastics write their blogs tapping on plastic keys while listening to music on plastic headphones? Likely, quite a few.

The music and podcasts Madeline listens to are all part of the energy input that fuels an especially interesting career. Madeline is Gardner’s East Coast Regional Sales Manager for the Plastics Technology and Moldmaking Technology magazine brands. The company specializes in magazines, events and market intelligence for the manufacturing industry, bringing industrial buyers and sellers together through integrated media solutions. Madeline’s role in the operation is to align media and advertising solutions to customers’ marketing objectives, helping them maintain strong brand presence in the plastics and moldmaking markets.

Rediscovering the world of her upbringing

Gardner is Madeline’s family’s business, but it wasn’t her first stop on the career train after graduating High Point University in 2018. “My first job after college was an inside sales role with an enterprise research and advisory company,” she said. “I was starting to think about the next steps in my career when an opportunity presented itself to manage the East Coast territory for Plastics Technology. I was excited to be considered for the job and onboarded in July of 2020.”

“I grew up around publishing adjacent to the manufacturing industry,” she added. Now she has a role in a success story that began with her great-great-grandfather, Don G. Gardner, in 1928. And the experience is proving rewarding. “My favorite part about working in the plastics industry is the people,” Madeline said. “The excitement with which they speak about their products and processes is contagious. I learn something new in every conversation I have with my customers and my colleagues.”

Madeline’s career is teaching her things on a personal level, as well. “It has made me a more thoughtful consumer and recycler,” she said. “Understanding how many people and how much time goes into the manufacturing and recycling of plastic products makes it impossible to take them for granted.”

Connecting with her generation of professionals

Another rewarding aspect of life at Gardner is the company’s membership in the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) which introduced Madeline to the Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP) group for plastics professionals under the age of 40. “I’ve been participating in FLiP for about a year,” she said.  “It’s great seeing familiar faces at live events and getting to know people in different parts of the industry.”

Among the benefits Madeline discovered through FLiP is its Mentorship Program, through which she connected with Hillary Thomas, Vice President at Westminster Tool, with whom she shares some interesting common ground. “Hillary and I connected through the Mentorship Program last year and continue to meet on a regular basis,” Madeline said. “Her sales and industry knowledge, as well as her experience working for her family’s business, has made her mentorship invaluable.”

In speaking about the business of plastics, Madeline echoes the concerns of many in the industry about how to deal honestly with public perception. “The major challenges the plastics industry faces today are the perception that plastic is terrible, and the reality that plastic can have adverse effects on the environment,” she said. “I think the industry can overcome these challenges through education and advocacy around sustainability and proper recycling.”

Sharing a passion for progress

When asked why people of her generation should consider a career in plastics, Madeline didn’t go straight to her opinion for an answer. She pointed to some tried-and-true wisdom from her great-great-grandfather. “There’s a quote from Gardner’s founder, Don Gardner,” she said, “which goes: ‘Time passes, conditions change, the world progresses, and those who are found keeping pace with the new order of things are those who are young enough in mind and spirit to recognize the value of the new and to make themselves a part of it.’”

“I love this quote,” Madeline added, “because it beautifully embodies the vision of Gardner and our approach to the industries we serve. People in my generation should consider careers in plastics because this industry is always changing and has limitless potential for innovation. We have an opportunity to bring fresh perspectives to this market and make ourselves part of the ‘new order of things.’”

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