Profile: Bryan Forrest

Bryan Forrest

Product Manager – Consumer & Packaging – Washington Penn Plastic Co., Inc.

From childhood through high school I was fascinated by anything mechanical. I loved working with my hands whether it was playing with Legos, building tree stands or potato cannons; I knew that long term I wanted to pursue something that allowed me to have hands-on interactions on daily basis. I started out my college career in the mechanical engineer program, only to be talked into trying out a plastics course or two by a fellow ski instructor and professor in the plastics program. One or two courses on a trial basis ended up turning into a career that I love.

I found that I really liked the combination of traditional classroom courses and the hands on labs that plastics engineering offered. I ended up having two very different internships over the next two summers, one at a smaller, family owned custom injection molder and another at a very large corporation that designed and manufactured electrical connectors and sensors for everything from cell phones and computers to cars and aircraft.

A few months before graduation I was contacted by the same company that I had interned with the previous summer and asked if I would be interested in a full time opportunity. I accepted the offer and ended up spending almost five years with that company and gaining a broad range experiences with injection molding projects.

In 2012 a college classmate called me to catch up. He mentioned that there was a job open where he worked that he thought I would be a good fit for even though it was a bit different than what I had been doing. A few months later I found myself moving across the country for a new opportunity with John Deere. My new role was a hybrid technical and commercial role supporting the global supply base manager for the resins commodity. The chance to combine my technical knowledge with the business side of things was a great fit for me In this role I had the opportunity to travel to our factories and both molders and resin manufacturers around the world. These experiences, seeing both the similarities and differences of industry and way of life around the world, will stick with me forever. After about two and a half years in that position, my manager elected to retire and I was approached about taking over his responsibilities as Global Supply Base Manager. I never pictured myself outside of the engineering world but found that my undergraduate plastics engineering studies had prepared me well to make the jump to the commercial side of the industry. After a few years on the commercial side of the business, I moved back to the technical side in an engineering leadership position. These roles allowed me to travel to global factories and suppliers and gain international exposure in more than ten countries.

In 2017 my wife and I decided it was time to move our family back closer to home and grandparents. People frequently say “It’s a small world”, but in the “Plastics world” it is even smaller. Through the extensive network I had developed over the first 10 years of my career I was able to identify a number of opportunities back home in Pennsylvania, ultimately finding a good fit for my skill set and background at Washington Penn Plastic Co, a global leaded in polyolefin compounds.

I would highly recommend a career in plastics to anyone exploring college options, looking to enter the civilian work force after serving our country or to anyone looking for an exciting career change. The plastics industry is growing rapidly and there are many opportunities in a broad range of plastics related jobs anywhere in the world that you are willing to go!