Ashley Gannon Interviews Steve Eglowstein, Director of Sales at IPL Plastics

Ashley Gannon, Executive Recruiter for Plastics and Flexible Packaging recently had the opportunity to interview Steve Eglowstein, Director of Sales at IPL Plastics. Mr. Eglowstein shared helpful insights regarding the plastics packaging industry, innovation, and leadership.

Please tell us about yourself and your company, IPL Plastics.

I have had over 15 years of Plastic Packaging experience, most of which have been in the manufacturing of rigid plastic containers. I have had roles from producing in sales to leadership. Currently, my title is Director of Sales and I lead Sales Reps from the Southeast, out to the Gulf Coast and the entire West Coast throughout that division. IPL Plastics is now the third largest manufacturer of rigid plastic containers in North America. IPL is comprised of 4 business units -The bulk division which is all plastic containers from 0.5 up to 6 gallons in rounds, squares, rectangles and various shapes and styles, a retail division, which is the smaller type of plastic containers that are synonymous with yogurt and sour cream and products you see mostly in the retail sector, a material handling division which is primarily storage handling containers, and an environmental division which are roll-out trash cans.

What led you to pursue the Plastics/Packaging industry in your career?

I think what really caught my attention in the Plastics/Packaging industry was the opportunity to work within an industry that is always growing and changing. Whether it is in food, chemical, or industrial, types of packaging are always changing. There are many initiatives that have been ongoing in the OEM to retail markets. The innovation and constant change is very present in Plastics Packaging, and finding a company that was open and invested in innovation allows you to get to the right customers for the right reasons.

IPL has a culture of innovation and commitment. How do you encourage innovation on the teams you lead?

It starts with a company like IPL who provides best in class product and service. Having these key components allows your team to collaborate with customers and truly provide solutions and the ability to differentiate yourselves from the competition. We, at IPL, encourage our teams and our sales folks to constantly think outside the box. We hire creative minds who are constantly looking to provide solutions, options or variations to the way that you’re doing things. Hiring people that have that mindset and then having a best in class company, best in class product, and having a team internally that welcomes that, drives innovation and people take to it. Each opportunity in our company is worth exploring and if it makes sense we will do it. We are probably more flexible than most of our competitors, so for that reason it creates an environment in itself that promotes innovation, thinking outside the box and coming up with new ideas.

What trends do you expect to see in the Plastics/Packaging industry in the next 5 years?

Source reduction is definitely a key proponent, not only from an environmental standpoint, but also reduction in costs. In addition, state of the art decoration has become more accessible to medium and small customers. IML or in mold labeling is something 10 years ago only large brand owners could afford to do. Through technology advancements, it’s not just for the companies who have a huge wallet, now some of the medium and smaller accounts can use state of the art decoration. I think you will see more and more of that. Being able to do shorter runs with decoration will be more available in the next 5 years, so driving out material, driving out costs, and using types of decoration in an economical way are trends I see. Lastly, innovation is not going to stop. Coming up with the best and newest mouse trap is an ongoing topic that has no finish line.

What traits do you believe are necessary in leadership?

The first is being able to hire the right people. One of the reasons we work with DRI is they give us the ability to hire the right people, by putting the right people in front of us. Additionally, being able to have access as a leader, keeping your ear to the ground and finding talent that can add value to the team is important. I think that once you’ve got the right people on board then it becomes leading by example. My job, in essence, is to remove obstacles and do everything in my power to help that person succeed whether in metrics, goals, and dollars; that’s my mantra. My job is to stand behind someone and help them move the pile and help them succeed in closing business, and achieving their personal and professional goals. We provide all the training and guidance but once you hire the right people and give them the right tools, leaders should be asking, ‘how can I help you?’ It’s not about who works for you, it’s more or less becoming teammates and partners and creating collaborative relationships.

Describe the approach you take to attracting and retaining high impact talent at IPL Plastics.

I think one of the assets that IPL’s culture has is having a collaborative and entrepreneurial type spirit. Some of our best in class competitors are very set in their ways. Having a leadership team that is open to new ideas, and wants to collaborate with their teammates seems very well received with the people that we talk to. It seems to be the culture people want to be around instead of the less flexible environment. There’s nobody at IPL that puts themselves above anybody else. We all consider ourselves partners, coworkers and we all work together for a common goal so people feel apart of the process and that’s how you get a better buy in.

What or who has motivated and influenced you to be successful in your career? Have you been involved in mentorship throughout your career, whether being mentored or mentoring others?

I have been very fortunate to have worked with and for people I would consider mentors. I have been given the opportunities to go through formal training and worked with good mentors who have taught me great skills in sales and leadership. These people have enabled me to pick up some great habits and great skillsets. As for mentoring others, part of my job is to mentor the people who report to me to certain degrees, helping them provide solutions and recommending how to handle different situations. Some people are just as experienced as I am, so the last thing I want to do is to tell them how to do their job. My job is to find out what can I do, how can I help, and how can I remove obstacles. For those with less experience that come across a situation they need help with, we will sit down, brainstorm, and look at our options to figure out the best way to handle it – that is one way I can provide some mentorship.

What is the biggest challenge facing the industry right now?

Top manufacturers need to have the ability to be flexible to meet and exceed customer expectations. There are folks that are much larger or much smaller that are very ingratiated in standard operating procedures IE, “that’s how it’s got to be done”, but business climate has changed over years. There are spikes and valleys in businesses and there are different senses of urgency and needs so the biggest challenge in the industry is being that company that not always says yes, but has the flexibility and open-mindedness to look at ways to help customers meet and exceed their expectations.

What do you think is necessary to be a successful salesperson in your industry?

There are a lot of people in our industry from the sales standpoint that are used to doing things the same way that everybody else has done it for some period of time and I don’t believe that necessarily holds true anymore. Customers in the industry have evolved. The average customer is more astute as to entertaining a new vendor coming in, listening to the questions they ask and the way they conduct themselves, and they’re saying to themselves, “Is this someone I can look at as a partner? Do they have our best interest at hand? Are they bringing new ideas to the table?” This is a different mindset than just trying to speak to customers to sell your product or service. Salespeople need to enable themselves to get in front of customers and ask them a lot of questions, find out what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, where they want help, and then providing solutions, suggestions or options. When you do that, then you become an extension with a company and you are viewed as a partner with your customer. I think that’s very important and the industry needs it.

 

Ashley Gannon
Executive Recruiter
agannon@directrecruiters.com
440-991-1064

Management Vs. Leadership

February 14, 2018

By Christy Fox, Director of Marketing

What is the difference between management and leadership? To some, the words might seem interchangeable, however, this is not the case. Professionals across all industries should try to find a balance between the two to lead a successful team.

Here are six points outlining the differences between management and leadership. Where are you excelling and where are you lacking in your management or leadership roles?

  • Leaders are inspirational and work to take their team to the next level.
  • Managers execute day to day tasks and make sure day-to-day operations run smoothly.
  • Leaders influence people; many come to leaders for advice.
  • Managers have subordinates who just work for them.
  • Leaders take risks that might take time, and resources, but will be worth it in the end.
  • Managers eliminate risk and get tasks done in specific, set timeframes.
  • Leaders think long term with goals and vision.
  • Managers focus on short term tasks and accomplishments.
  • Leaders are typically very people oriented.
  • Managers are driven by numbers and rational problem solving.
  • Leaders are proactive in building a strategy.
  • Managers are reactive to a strategy that has been built and they execute it.

Not all managers and leaders are built the same, but a strong combination of the points above can push you from just managing people to leading people, and drive your team to be more successful.

4 Traits Needed to be a Great Leader in 2017

February 15, 2017

By Dan Charney, President

Day by day, the workforce evolves due to economical, technological, and societal changes. With the constant workforce transformation is a constant need for leaders to strive for quality management tactics. Common important traits for a leader to have are confidence, transparency, and innovation, among others. However, 2017 is a new year, with new challenges, and leaders should take note of these 3 key traits and skills that will make them successful and benefit their employees this year.

1. Decisiveness
On a regular basis, leaders are put into situations where they are expected to make tough decisions that can impact the entire company. In addition, they are responsible for communicating their decisions to employees and others. To be successful, a great leader is able to make quick decisions by balancing emotions and logic. When it comes to information processing and decision making, leaders are able to use both sides of the brain; left being the logic center responsible for reasoning and analysis, and right being the emotional center responsible for creativity and intuition. With the fast pace of the business world, leaders and top executives have to implement balanced decision making without hesitation and without wasting time.

2. Focus
In 2017, technology continues to expand and grow at a fast rate with big data, cybersecurity, and IoT being at the forefront of not only the tech industries, but also manufacturing, healthcare, banking, and more. With this growth, leaders need to be able to adapt to changes, but also know their core business and stick to it. Changes and challenges can cause leaders and executives to lose focus and lose sight of their mission which can ultimately result in a loss of profits. It is important for leaders to stay organized and stay on track with established strategies, plans, and goals, while also keeping employees and other leaders in the company focused for the business to be successful no matter what changes the business world could be experiencing.

3. Communication Skills
Having exceptional communication skills is common for leaders, but especially important in today’s day and age. There are four different generations with a prominent presence in the workforce today. Furthermore, today’s leaders fall into many of these generational categories. This makes it so important for leaders to be able to clearly communicate strategy, goals, give and receive feedback, and motivate employees no matter if they are dealing with Baby Boomers, Generation X, or Millennials. While many of these generations have stereotypes stamped onto them that may or may not be true, it is extremely important for leaders to pay attention to what communication methods are the clearest and most concise for employees and the team.

4. Insightfulness and Innovation
The 2017 workforce has been highlighting a key factor in what is most valuable to them in a job: company culture. A recent poll by Hunt Scanlon Media shows that 73% of respondents say culture is the most important workplace consideration at their organization, with 42% responding that culture is a leadership priority driven from the top down. As leaders, it is extremely important to be insightful and innovative in creating a great company culture. Top executives can improve the quality of their workplace environment and culture by simply having a clear understanding of what employees want, and creatively implementing perks. This will help to not only retain current employees, but attract new talent as well.

Effective leadership takes time and experience, but with practice, leaders can polish these traits and benefit themselves, and their employees. What other leadership traits do you think are crucial for top executives to have in 2017?

Top 10 Reasons Why Good People Quit

February 3, 2016

According to the US Department of Labor and Statistics, turnover can cost an organization 33% of an employee’s total compensation including both salary and benefits. But the impact is not only financial it also affects employee morale. Therefore, it would be prudent for hiring managers to focus on reducing turnover rates but in order to do that they must first understand the reasons why employees quit.

There have been many studies and articles written on why good employees leave their current positions. There’s an infinite number of reasons. However, from our experience, these are “Top Ten” reasons why good employees quit:

1) The job was not as expected. All too often the job changes from the original description and what was promised during the interviewing stages. It becomes painfully clear to the new hire that their new company played the bait and switch game which ultimately leads to mistrust. The new hire is now thinking, “What else are they lying about?”

2) Work/Life imbalance. There are times when management demands that one person do the jobs of two or more people. This is especially true when a company merges, downsizes, or restructures resulting in longer hours and possible weekend work. Employees are often forced to choose between a personal life and a career.

3) Mismatch between job and new hire. No matter how much you love the candidate, don’t hire them unless they are truly qualified for the job and they mesh with your company culture. Too many times, hiring managers try to fit a square peg into a round hole especially when it comes to a sales position.

4) Management freezes raises and promotions. Money isn’t usually the first reason why people leave an organization but it does rank especially when an employee can find a job earning 20-25% more somewhere else. Make sure your wages are competitive and your benefits package is attractive. Resources like www.salary.com can provide accurate and appropriate information.

5) Feeling undervalued. It’s human nature to want to be recognized and praised for a job well done. And in business, recognizing employees is not simply a nice thing to do but an effective way to communicate your appreciation for their efforts and successes while also reinforcing those actions and behaviors that make a difference in your organization.

6) Lack of decision-making power. Too many managers micromanage down to the finest detail. Empower your employees and allow them the freedom make suggestions and decisions. Often, the word “Empowerment” is a ‘catch-all’ term for many ideas on employee authority and responsibility; but as a broad definition it means giving employees latitude to do their jobs and placing trust in them.

7) Too little coaching & feedback. Many managers have no clue on how to help employees improve their performance. In addition, many managers put off giving feedback to employees even though they instinctively know that giving and getting honest feedback is essential for growth and in building successful teams and organizations. Your role as a manager is to help your people find the right behavior, not just tell them what to do.

8) Management lacks people skills. Remember that many managers were promoted because they did their first job well, but that doesn’t mean they know how to lead others. People skills can be learned and developed but it really helps if a manager has the natural ability to get along with people and motivate them.

9) Too few growth opportunities. One of the most common reasons employees express for leaving their jobs is lack of challenge and potential for career growth. The most successful employers find ways to help employees develop new skills and responsibilities in their current positions.

10) Loss of faith and confidence in corporate leaders. With employees being asked to do more and more, they see less evidence that they will share in the fruits of their successes. More often than not, when revenues and profits are up, employers are still thinking competitive wages but employees are thinking bonuses, stock options and creative development opportunities.

Reasons You Aren’t Reaching Your Career Goals

By John Yurkschatt, IT Director, DCA

Have you been passed up for a promotion lately? Are you not where you thought you would be in career by now? You’re smart, hard-working, and creative. So what’s the problem?

There are a number of very real reasons that could be holding you back from reaching your potential including fears you may have or false-thinking patterns. No matter what the reason, once you recognize the issue, you have the power to change it.

From my experience and vantage point, here are the 10 biggest reasons why you’re not where you should be in your career:

Fear of Success. Many people feel they don’t deserve success in life or fear their own greatness. Just as the fear of achieving a personal worst can motivate personal growth, the fear of achieving a personal best can also hinder achievement. You need to believe in yourself and that you deserve to succeed. Have you heard of “Fake it till you make it?” It means if you don’t feel confident, pretend you are until you gain the confidence needed.

Fear of Failure. Fearing failure can damage everything at work and in life. It ruins your productivity, destroys your dreams, and keeps you from building the professional success you’re trying to build. Don’t fear failure but expect it. Your mistakes will teach you and show you a better way to get what you want and remember there’s no reward without risk.

Thinking Way Too Small. You may be looking at the future one day at a time or even one week at a time. You don’t have vision for the long-term. You see the trees and not the forest. Transformational leaders have one thing in common…their vision is bigger than average. Just like them, you need to open up your mind’s eye to continually seek new opportunities.

Lack of Soft Skills to do the Job. Your hard skills might have landed you the job but the lack of the right soft skills will hold you back from moving forward within the organization. According to Careerealism, the critical soft skills employers most desire in their employees today are honesty and integrity, strong work ethic, emotional intelligence, self-motivation, high energy, and being a team player. The good news is that soft skills can be learned. Take the initiative and get trained on those you need.

Preoccupied with Social Media. If you waste valuable work hours and productivity time on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media platforms (unless your job is in social media), you’re not going to get anywhere. Employers will see you working on “not working.” Your chance for a promotion is gone and soon you’ll be gone.

Feeling Entitled. Entitled, comfortable and security are words that you should never utter or experience. These are words that justify complacency, certain privileges, and low performance on the job. Being “entitled” to be treated differently than you are being treated can absolutely ruin your career. The reality is that coworkers don’t appreciate others leaving more work for them and bosses don’t reward bare minimum performance.

Paralysis by Analysis. Wiki defines Paralysis by Analysis as the state of over-thinking a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. There’s a great cost to an organization if the decision making process overwhelms you and therefore prevents you from making any decision at all.

Negative Thinking. Negative workplace attitudes have an effect on every person in the organization and negative attitudes effects employee morale, productivity, and team building abilities. It also has an effect on the overall workplace environment or culture. Get rid of your toxic thinking and beliefs before they send you into a downward spiral and ruin your career altogether.

Lack of Goals. If you don’t plan anything, play it by ear, and just hope things will fall into place, you are not being realistic. What you need is a clear understanding of the company mission and create a number of professional and personal goals that relate to the company’s mission and success. Put your goals in writing. This makes them more real. By not setting goals, you look lazy and management will perceive you as having a lack of ambition or initiative.

Thinking Like an Employee and Not a Leader. Today, companies are in dire need of future leaders. If you’re giving them the impression you’re only showing up for a paycheck, it’s not likely that you’ll be high on their list of those ready for a promotion or leadership position. Therefore, to get ahead, it’s a good idea to demonstrate that you have leading edge ideas and the ability to implement them for the continued success of the company.

Is there something that’s keeping you back from reaching success in your career? If so, please share your story or comment below.

How Millennials are Changing the Workplace

By John Yurkschatt, IT Director of Sister Company DCA

In 2014, Millennials comprised 36% of the workforce. By 2025, they will make up 75% of the workforce. Compared to Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, the Millennials have a very different view of what the workplace landscape should look like and therefore, come into the workforce with different expectations. We’re already seeing some companies, including our own, that have adopted new techniques for hiring, motivating, managing, and retaining this young talent. Eventually all companies will need to adjust and prepare for this emerging demographic and shift.

On the whole, millennials are hard workers. But what do they really want in the workplace? Here’s our list of the 7 ways they will reshape the future of work:

Emphasis on Technology.  As the most technologically literate generation, millennials find it important that employers keep them connected with the latest and best technology including mobile platforms. In fact, many companies now offer online pre-interview questionnaires and video interviews. Not only is the video interview process a cost-effective and convenient way to screen candidates, it also highlights the company’s use of technology and can help draw in top talent.

Corporate Culture and Meaningful Work are Paramount. Millennials say that meaningful work is a key factor when accepting a job. They want to know that their work will have a positive impact on their co-workers, manager, and on the company at large. In addition, millennials are especially fond of volunteering whether for skills-based volunteering or company volunteering days.

Leadership Must be Transparent and Authentic. Transparency is one of the top four qualities that millennials look for in leaders so it’s no surprise that when they become leaders it is something they will make a priority. Also, this generation is able to smell phony and pretentiousness a mile away. They’re fed up with politicians and business leaders who don’t keep promises and are more concerned about personal gain than serving others. They want leaders with integrity.

Working from Home Will Become the Norm.  The Census Bureau reported that 13.4 million people work from home in America. That number will only continue to rise as more Millennials enter the workforce. They like the idea of remote connectivity and dislike the idea of being confined in an office from 9 to 5. They value a work/life balance but expect to stay highly connected and engaged with their employer and team.

Rewards and Instant Gratification Expected.  Millennial expectations for rewards and instant gratification are due to their emphasis on connectedness and communication. Technology has cultivated an expectation of quick responses and immediate appreciation for a job well done. However, this appreciation is not necessarily monetary. Instead, millennials want their ideas to be considered, appreciated and implemented.

Annual Performance Reviews Eliminated. Millennials want feedback in real-time or at the very least, on a regular basis. They aren’t willing to wait until an annual review to improve. In addition, they want to know what’s expected of them from the start.

Leadership Development a Must. Millennials have a strong opinion about how they will learn and develop leadership skills. Career coaching, mentorship programs, and rotational assignments are the most desired types of leadership training. Less important are the traditional types of training including e-learning, university courses and instructor-led classes. Millennials want to learn through experiences, rather than traditional training.

If you’re a Millennial, what other changes do you see coming in the workplace? Please post below.