For a younger guy in the business, Zach Adams displays the maturity of a veteran when speaking about his place of business, Milliken & Company. “Since our founding in 1865,” he said, “our commitment to ethics has guided our work. We strive to deliver innovations without compromising environmental stewardship, the health and safety of our associates, or the future of our communities.”

Zach, a graduate of North Carolina State University, has been with Milliken since 2008 and says he’s enjoying a career with a company that gives its people opportunities. “I was working in our specialty fabrics division,” he recalled, “when an opportunity opened up in our plastics lab.” That led to working as a Technical Services and Development Engineer on a next-generation polypropylene clarifier.

Today, Zach is a Global Product Line Manager, who jested that his days are, “Meetings. So many meetings,” going on to add, “but seriously, every day is different but often it’s a split between making decisions to support the business, creating marketing material, and supporting my team in a variety of ways.”

In addition to his aforementioned maturity, Zach’s passion for his chosen industry is undeniable. “We are constantly reinventing ourselves to provide enhanced protective packaging and durables to improve lives and often reduce the carbon footprint of products versus alternative materials,” he said. “We’re bringing value to this world we live in.”

Zach believes that young people in the job market should be taking a serious look at companies like Milliken, as they can provide both an education and a great way to earn a living. “A career in plastics has given me an appreciation of how plastics improve convenience and safety in many areas of life,” he said. “And through my work I’ve also had the opportunity of exposure to many different and unique cultures all over the world.”

There’s an even more practical reason to consider the plastics industry, according to Zach: there’s an incredible amount of opportunity to be had. “Plastics is a market where demand is growing,” Zach said. “The need for further innovation exists, recessions have limited impact, the desire for talent is strong, and there is still low-hanging fruit for sustainability advancements.”

Among the opportunities Zach enjoys is Milliken’s membership in PLASTICS, which introduced him to FLiP, Future Leaders in Plastics, an initiative focused on networking and professional development for plastics professionals under the age of 40. “I’ve been in FLiP for just over a year,” Zach said, “and have benefited from networking, book club conversations, lunch and learns, and generally staying in the know about happenings with the Plastics Industry Association.”

Zach has also taken advantage of FLiP’s mentorship opportunities. “Kevin Cronin from Ultra-Poly Corporation has recently adopted me as a mentee,” he said. “I’ve already gained great perspective on building a network, making great work/life balance choices, and how to highlight the successes of my team members.”

Eager to further the goals of FLiP, Zach stepped forward as a leadership candidate and was recently elected Vice Chair of the group. Among his priorities is encouraging his peers to help change public perceptions about plastics. “In the near term,” he said, “It will be difficult to overcome negative opinion about plastics but if we keep innovating and keep a focus on scientific approaches to measuring sustainability, I believe we will slowly turn the tide.”

 

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