Ask Corey Gast to describe what he does in the course of a day at Graham Engineering, and he’s liable to take a very deep breath before answering. “I’m in charge of marketing,” he said. “That includes inbound marketing such as SEO, content, paid search, Google and LinkedIn, and outbound marketing like tradeshows, branding, conferences, research, PR, user experience, and customer experience. Then there’s also strategy, reporting, promotion, testing, photography, and managing third-party vendors.”
All that is summed up under the title “Marketing Manager.”
Busy man, busy company
Graham Engineering began in a garage in 1960 and has since grown to manufacture single screw extruders, blow molding systems, sheet line systems, and extrusion systems used to manufacture myriad products across numerous industries. Corey credits “dumb luck” with bringing him to the company and into a job and industry he loves. “I was fortunate enough to be brought into the plastics industry by Gina Haines,” he said, “after spending years marketing in the financial and power industries.”
Haines, now retired, was Chief Marketing Officer at Graham Engineering and someone Corey points to gratefully as a mentor. Her guidance ushered him into a fascinating new world. “There are a lot of brilliant people who work in this industry. It’s impossible not to learn something new every day,” Corey said. And all that learning has completely transformed his opinion of plastics: “Understanding the lifecycle of plastic products, from manufacturing to use, to recycling, has made me realize that plastic will be integral to the future.”
It’s a future, Corey says, that will demand proactive effort in both the private and public sectors. “In my opinion, the biggest challenge the industry is facing is the lack of infrastructure and investment governments put towards plastic recycling and sustainability,” Corey said. “The plastics industry should continue to invest in education, general awareness, and backing politicians who will support robust investment in recycling infrastructure.”
Calling peers to action
Corey also believes that people of his generation should seriously consider being part of it all. “There is constant innovation in the plastics industry,” he said. “The idea that you can be at the forefront of the latest technology is thrilling. Also, there will always be plastic products. So, job security is good too.”
And if those young people happen to sign on with a company that’s a member of PLASTICS, they can join Corey in Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP), PLASTICS’ professional development and networking initiative for industry professionals under the age of 40. Corey found FLiP immediately appealing and joined when he first arrived at Graham Engineering in 2017. “It’s a community I can lean into,” he said. “If I have a question or am looking for guidance, there is someone at FLIP who can help. It brings confidence knowing that.”
Enjoying his “dumb luck”
Whether it was indeed “dumb luck” that got Corey where he is today, or someone seeing something in him that could be of great use to this industry, Corey Gast is en route to a career he’ll be able to look back on with pride, knowing he helped put the machinery in place to create the amazing future he sees for plastics.
With all the many plastic products that have been made with the type of machinery Corey markets, what do you suppose is the one plastic product he couldn’t live without?
We asked him, and he said, “The latest toy that helps me keep my 18-month-old entertained!”
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]