As of September 1, I am retiring from writing about plastics after 32 years. It’s been a great run and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. However, it’s time to say goodbye. I’m not retiring from writing, however. I will continue to write blogs and essays, and publish books. A new book is coming out in November from Monkfish Book Publishing and it is quite different from the many plastics books that have been published over the years.
As Danny DeVito’s character said in Throw Mama from the Train, “A writer writes always.” That is true. Writing has been my obsession as well as my profession. In that respect I’m lucky. I can’t say I actually carved out this path of writing for and about the plastics industry, but I took advantage of opportunities when they came along.
While it’s true that the plastic industry — especially in the 1980s — was a male-dominated industry, the men I worked with were really great guys who taught me about plastics processing, including how to read blueprints (they were on paper back then), how to tell good parts from bad parts, the language of the plastics industry, and much more as my curiosity about plastic part manufacturing increased. I loved it!
When I was given the opportunity to be a marketing and salesperson, I jumped at the chance. It was something I really wanted to do because I loved sales! I’ve never met a stranger, and I love engaging with people. It was a wonderful experience as I covered eight Western states, working with customers such as Compaq Computer, Hewlett Packard, Abbott Labs, and many more.
Traveling for sales and doing the marketing for this company as well as trying to get my degree in journalism at Arizona State University (ASU), all while raising four children, was tough. However, in 1989, I got the opportunity to leave my full-time job to attend ASU full time to complete the journalism degree I’d started in 1979.
I never stopped writing, and found opportunities to freelance articles for several local newspapers and magazines, as I was always on the lookout for interesting topics. In August 1989, I began writing for a new plastics industry trade publication, Plastics News, while finishing my degree at ASU. One of my first big features was a Drug Enforcement Agency raid on a Phoenix-area injection molding company that was making drug paraphernalia. The DEA confiscated the molds, resins, and anything else they could carry off. Quite the story!
In 1991, I graduated from ASU with a BA in journalism and a double minor in marketing and public relations. By 1995 I began writing a book, and I had to find someone to publish it. That’s when I came across Abby Communications, publisher of Injection Molding Magazine. I left Plastics News and signed on with Abby, which published what I believe was the first book about plastics that was targeted to molders and moldmakers, The Business of Injection Molding: How to Succeed as a Custom Molder. That book came out just in time for an NPE show and sold quite well.
The next books that Abby published were also about business — a three-book series on marketing and sales strategies for molders and mold makers. The final book provided information to purchasers of injection molds and molded parts — Purchasing Injection Molds: A Buyer’s Guide. All of my books sold well, and I’ll always be grateful to Abby for publishing my work and to the readers of my work. I hope I helped make a difference for those in the industry.
I loved working with these companies, helping them with marketing and sales planning and their public relations ideas to help them grow their businesses. I believe I’ve met some of the nicest people in the world in this industry throughout the United States – as well as in Canada, Mexico, and Europe – as I traveled to trade shows and toured plastics processing plants.
Time, it seems, has gone by quite rapidly, and here I am, not at the end of the road but at a fork, where my writing is moving in a different direction. It’s been a great 40-year career in a really great industry. I wish everyone in the industry well, and hope they can survive the continued attacks from the unscientific plastic-haters. After all, plastic really is fantastic!