Ryan Miller left Penn State in 2012 with excellent training in Finance and Economics. But like most people, he didn’t learn a whole lot about plastics. Little did he know that his search for a job would lead to Ultra-Poly Corp., the world of recycling, and a Business Development Associate’s position that would prove quite an adventure. Ryan needed to know all about the business and Ultra-Poly gave him the education he needed.

“Every day, I went into the plant and learned as much as I could about plastic,” Ryan said. “I would test raw materials and finished compounds in the laboratory, sit in on daily production meetings, run grinders and shredders, book freight inbound and outbound, package samples, and more.”

Putting valuable knowledge to use

And with all that experience, came a series of important relationships. “Throughout my 10 years in the plastics industry, all with Ultra-Poly, I have received a wealth of knowledge from my bosses and co-workers,” Ryan said. “Although I’ve never had an actual ‘mentor’ by definition, I give all the kudos in the world to my colleagues who have each taken time to teach me something new or share an experience I could learn from.”

Today, all that knowledge serves Ryan well in his role as Business Development Manager at Ultra-Poly, helping him keep people informed. “On an average day,” he said, “I will have conversations with my suppliers to make sure raw materials are delivering on time as well as having conversations with my customers to let them know when to expect their orders.”

Speaking up for the industry

As does everyone in the industry, Ryan hopes to change public perceptions about plastics. “Plastic waste is definitely a problem and recycling rates certainly are not where we need them to be,” he said, adding “I think we need to invest more on the recycling side of the industry as well as educate the consumers on how to properly recycle their plastic.”

Ryan can say that with genuine optimism because he has seen good information in action. “What I like most is sharing the story of what we do at Ultra-Poly,” he said. “Most people don’t truly understand plastic recycling or believe that it really happens. I find a lot of joy in seeing faces light up after showing or telling people what we do at our recycling facilities.”

Not just a profession, but a community

In addition to having learned so much at Ultra-Poly, Ryan is glad the company is a PLASTICS member, as that has given him access to FLiP (Future Leaders in Plastics), a PLASTICS initiative focused on personal and professional development for plastics professionals under the age of 40. “I’ve made a lot of great connections and friends, and the guest speakers at our quarterly meetings have all helped me develop skills,” Ryan said. “I’ve also traveled to new cities and had many new experiences thanks to FLiP, which have all helped me grow as a person.”

Ryan is very positive about the future and encourages other young people to consider a career in plastics, saying, “I believe the industry is strong and will continue to grow and adapt to the world we live in. Plastic is EVERYWHERE and that means endless opportunities to find new customers.”

Just ask Ryan’s wife about all the possibilities he explores. “My poor wife can’t take me anywhere at this point,” he said. “We’ll be out in public somewhere and most likely I’m lifting and inspecting a plastic bin to see who the manufacturer is!”

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: flip@plasticsindustry.org