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Currier Plastics expands its collegiate co-op program

Currier Plastics knows the value of working with academic institutions to promote careers in the plastics industry. The custom molder, located in central New York state, specializes in plastic packaging for beauty and cosmetics, amenities and household consumables, as well as electronic connectors and medical measuring devices.

As Currier's business has grown over the past 30 years the company's efforts to meet its human resources requirements through its Collegiate Co-Op Program has grown as well. The company recently added a Penn State senior to its list of interns that have worked with the company.

Currier Plastics believes in the importance of education and encourages students of all ages to stay in school and learn about technology. The company provides several plant tours each year to students ranging from second graders from the Hermann Avenue Elementary School, to juniors and seniors from the local high school. Last week, 33 junior and senior high school students toured Currier Plastics to explore the company's manufacturing technology and to learn about career opportunities.

"After the visits, the children write thank you letters and tell us what they enjoyed most about their visit to Currier Plastics," said Dianne Pisciotti, director of talent at Currier. "For some, it's seeing the plastic bottles and lids being molded and for others, the race car driver by Tim Currier, our technical buyer and a student from the first class of elementary students to visit some 18 years ago."

Currier's Collegiate Co-Op program has proven successful over the years as is evident by the transition of SUNY Oswego graduate Tom Maloney from intern more than four years ago to the role of business development manager today. Maloney has a major in technology and a minor in business focusing on technology management. "As part of my degree program, I had to do a technology internship, which SUNY Oswego sourced for me," Maloney told PlasticsToday. "Gary Kieffer, vice president of new product development and one of the owners of Currier, is a graduate of SUNY Oswego. Currier allowed me to do a three-month internship here."

Maloney started his stint at Currier in the quality control lab. "That was critical to my eventual position as a business development manager," he said. "I saw first-hand the issues that we see on a day-to-day basis and that has helped me support customers in the field and convey to them any quality issues we might have. And it's helped me in my sales techniques."

Additionally, Currier trusted Maloney enough to allow him to work on programs with two of Currier's top five customers. Maloney worked on a wet wipe package at an engineering design level and on a quality concern with a PVC bottle the company was blowmolding. "I was very fortunate to be able to work on these projects and report my findings to Currier management and even went on a customer visit to review the designs I worked on," Maloney explained.  "It was a good stepping stone to becoming successful in this industry."

Currier management saw that sales would be a good position for Maloney. "It was a natural fit for me with this degree," he said. "Currier gave me a shot and I've been working here about four-and-a-half years in a business development role."

Max Leone, VP of business development, added that long before Maloney's internship and employment with Currier, management was convinced that this program is well worth the investment. "We really invest in these interns," said Leone. "They spend time in each department and experience that department first-hand for up to a week to really understand the department. By the time they finish their internship, they've got a well-rounded sense of Currier Plastics' organization. Those kinds of investments really count."

Maloney agreed. "Spending time in each department allowed me to learn the internal workings of Currier and how we rely on each other as a team," he commented. "Understanding the challenges of each department means I have a better sense of what I'm asking of people when I request things. I can go about things smarter."

Maloney is convinced that Currier's Collegiate Co-Op program is "absolutely a great program." He promotes this type of program to friends and relatives who are recent graduates or in college, and tells them to try to find a program like this for their internships. "It's great to have this hands-on experience prior to working a place full time," he said. "And the employer gets a better read on you as a potential employee, your talents and skills and work ethic - much more so than a brief job interview can tell them."

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