In a time when the average person holds approx. 10 different jobs throughout their career the plastics industry stands out. It is often said that plastics chooses you and once you start working in plastics you stay in the business. For AIN Plastic’s Jerry Lane that has been a very true statement, but after a lifetime in plastics distribution Jerry Lane is saying ‘bon voyage’ and heading into what we all hope will be a long and happy retirement.
I sat down with Jerry and chatted with him about his time in the plastics industry and how it lead to a lifelong career with the majority of those years being at AIN Plastics.
One of the first things we talked about is what has been the biggest change Jerry has seen in the plastics industry at large. After graduating Babson College in Wellesley 20 miles west of Boston Jerry joined the Coast Guard Reserves and was accepted into a Masters Degree program. 1966 Jerry went to work for his father who had a small plastics distribution company called AAA Plastics Supply. In 1985 this company merged with AIN Plastics which had 5 locations and was looking to expand and AAA Plastics Supply was a good fit. It was in Boston and then Norwood for 16 years before settling in Canton which is the current AIN location. Jerry reminisced that this past Washington’s birthday was the 31st anniversary of agreeing to the terms with Norman and Alex (The original A and N in AIN Plastics) to merge his family’s business with AIN Plastics. On April 19 of that year the formal agreement was signed and he began with AIN. Jerry feels this type of merger has been the biggest change overall in the industry. “There has been a huge consolidation of independent distributors. 30 years ago there were many small entrepreneurs. Now there are fewer but larger.” Jerry went on to add “Most manufacturers were also domestic, now the majority of suppliers are foreign-based companies.”
Jerry also noted one other major change has certainly been the Internet. “The ability to search online has provided the ability to make people smarter. There are so many resources out there. People research and shop differently now.”
Jerry Lane working the phones at AAA Plastics Supply which became part of AIN Plastics.
One of the things that differentiated AIN Plastics during this time period was it’s internal structure and catalog systems. Jerry explained that AIN Plastics relied on a robust outcall program. He said one of Norman Drucker’s favorite sayings was, “if you aren’t taking a call you are making a call!” In the days before Internet AIN Plastics also managed a large catalog business with separate catalogs for different industries. The largest of these catalogs was a school catalog that was mailed to every school in the country, primarily to shop programs that would teach machining of plastics, metals and other materials. They also had a catalog that went out to distributors. As part of the catalog system one thing that has not changed is AIN Plastics was, and is, known for having strong inventory and fast shipping. The merging with thyssenkrupp Materials NA has only strengthened this aspect of AIN by becoming part of the thyssenkrupp nationwide logistics system.
When asked about what job he held at AIN Plastics Jerry says there have been many. Jerry says he started at the very beginning sweeping floor and doing warehouse work, but as he gained knowledge and experience Jerry has ended with a well balanced and broad career including time in:
• Corporate Operations and Management
• Corporate Quality
• Freight and Logistics
Out of all those things, Jerry said one of the most gratifying times was on a recent trip to the AIN Plastics Yonkers facility. The team brought in a retirement cake and Inside Sales Representative George Marotta told Jerry we all wouldn’t be here is it wasn’t for the 2.5 years Jerry worked at our branch.
Of course no retirement chat would be complete without asking the question – What are you most looking forward to? After all, it’s the question we all ask ourselves about retirement or winning the lottery. For Jerry he says the first thing is to enjoy the city he and his wife and family have been a part of for so many years. “The first thing is site seeing beginning with Boston, and enjoying time with our new Grandchild due in just a short time. This will be our 2nd grandchild and first grandson.”
After that Jerry said in all his years of travel for work he has been to all of the AIN Plastics branches except TX and Missouri, “but I have not spent time in the actual cities so we plan to tour the US and enjoy being tourist travelers.”
Lastly we talked about what Jerry will miss the most. He said the AIN people are such a big part of his life and that will be what he misses the most. He went on to say, “I have a couple of projects that I know I won’t get to see finished that I know will be really good for company so I really will miss seeing those to their completion. But, there will always be those projects because it’s a part of our future and how we are growing.”
From here, Jerry will be handing over the logistics portion of his job to Lydia Gonzalez who has worked with Jerry for 24+ years. Jyoti Gorur will expand her Financial Analyst job to include some reports Jerry did as well and Debbie Shunk will take on R&A items so everyone will be in good hands.
Best Wishes to you Jerry!
and to everyone else –
See you in the blogosphere again soon
ThyssenKrupp Materials, NA
AIN Plastics Division
About Lisa Anderson
Ms. Anderson has been ThyssenKrupp Materials AIN Plastics Division for over 4 years. She brings 20+ years of advertising, award winning graphic design, social media and marketing. She has worked in book publishing, advertising agencies, printing, manufacturing, and the apartment industry. Ms. Anderson has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Arts from Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI.