At Plastipak, we’re committed to fostering an environment that values the personal and professional development of our associates through continuous education and training.
Tim Eppinga is a prime example of this commitment in action. Today, nearly 30 years after starting his career at Plastipak as a sales intern, Eppinga sits on our leadership team as the Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Technology. Like him, countless associates have found opportunities to flourish personally and professionally within the organization.
Alongside two younger brothers, Eppinga grew up in Grand Ledge, Michigan. His father owned and operated a successful family business, where he experienced firsthand the challenges of keeping a small business alive—igniting his interest in pursuing a career with a family-owned enterprise.
In pursuit of his passion, Eppinga enrolled at Michigan State University with his heart set on earning a degree in business. But, in the second semester of his freshman year, he decided to switch his major and landed in MSU’s School of Packaging because of his ability to use his mathematical skills, but with a marketing spin.
While he knew packaging was the right fit for him, he could never quite put his finger on what path he wanted to take his career in. After a lengthy discussion with one of his packaging professors during his Junior year, he realized that he could use his packaging degree to become a sales person for a packaging provider — the ‘aha moment’ that would set the tone for his career at Plastipak.
In 1990, Eppinga graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Packaging Engineering. Eager to start his career, he embarked on a search for internships. However, most packaging companies were only interested in recruiting engineers for operational roles.
Determined to secure an internship with the sales department at Plastipak Packaging, Inc., Eppinga met with Thomas Busard, Plastipak’s talent recruiter — now the Chief Polymers & Recycling Officer and President of Clean Technologies. After Eppinga explained his ideal training experience, Busard encouraged him to pitch his vision to Ron Overbeck, who served as Plastipak’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing at the time. Overbeck agreed to create a sales intern role and welcomed Eppinga to work as a full-time associate for two years.
After completing his sales internship in 1990, Eppinga received news of an upcoming sales territory opening. Excited about the opportunity, he and his wife packed their bags and headed to Chicago, where Eppinga would assume the role of a Sales Representative. The position taught him the importance of patience and preparation in the sales industry. “In sales, you get a lot of “no’s”, but you just need to keep going back. It is a game of odds and the more opportunities you are pursuing, the more chances you have at success,” said Eppinga.
As time went on, Eppinga continued to grow at Plastipak — taking on various roles such as Beverage Technical Service Manager, National Account Manager and District Sales Manager. In 2000, he returned to Michigan to work at Plastipak’s Global Business and Technology Center, where he held several Corporate Sales Management roles.
Looking back, Eppinga is grateful for the opportunity to have worked closely with William C. Young, President and CEO of Plastipak. Over the years, Mr. Young taught him many valuable lessons, like the importance of earning a customer’s business. He is proud to work for a company built on family heritage and that recognizes the value every customer holds — whether they’re a major corporation or a small family-owned business.
Eppinga’s advice for young professionals? Being a good listener, staying open to different perspectives and remaining persistent can take you far. It’s exactly what landed him in the role he’s in today and his inspiring journey at Plastipak is one of many.
About Plastipak Packaging, Inc.
Plastipak Packaging, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Plastipak Holdings, Inc., is a world leader in the design and manufacture of high-quality, rigid plastic containers for the food, beverage, and consumer products industries. Plastipak is also a leading recycler of rigid plastic packaging, producing food-grade post-consumer recycled resin for inclusion in new packaging. Plastipak operates more than 40 sites in the United States, South America and Europe, with a total of over 6,500 employees. Its customers include some of the world’s most respected and recognized consumer brands. Plastipak is also a leading innovator in the packaging industry, holding more than 420 United States patents for its state-of-the-art package designs and manufacturing processes. In addition, Plastipak licenses various packaging technologies around the world. Plastipak was founded in 1967 and is headquartered in Plymouth, Michigan. Additional information about Plastipak can be found at its website www.plastipak.com