AKRON—Working for a business-to-business publication is always an eye-opening experience. A person comes into an industry that is so fine-tuned to the needs of its members, needs that he or she potentially knows next to nothing about. It takes some time to catch up.
But there comes one moment—one moment where you realize that you are learning, that you are starting to think like an industry professional.
I started working for Rubber & Plastic News' sister publication Tire Business in August 2012, and it took about eight months or so before I had this moment. It came in a parking lot when I realized that I was not looking at the cars, but rather I was looking at the tires, studying the tread patterns and company names. Or better, I was looking at the name of the tire and quizzing myself if I knew the tire manufacturer. I stopped in my tracks and thought, “This is it. I'm officially a tire girl.”
From the moment I stepped onto the staff of Rubber & Plastics News last December, I started thinking back to being on the Science Olympiad team in high school, trying to learn all about polymers. I remember it was a lot of memorization and that I finished fourth in competition. And that was it with my career with polymers until January 2014. As an adult outside of the industry, I was just not thinking about the plastics or rubber industries.
But as I sat at a Pampered Chef party last week, I had my moment. Going to parties like that—where there is a plethora of bakeware, cookware, cutting, chopping, etc.—can be completely overwhelming.
As all the other ladies were discussing the products they already own and what they are looking to add to their collections, my mind was elsewhere. I was looking at how much of these “easy-to-use” products were made of rubber, silicones, etc.
Did you know: rubber and plastics are everywhere? Yes, you did, but I did not truly process it until that moment. This was my big moment of realization.
It's genius actually. It all started when I discovered one of the Pampered Chef products, little microwave grips that you use to get hot bowls and plates out of the microwave. What? They make things like this? Why have I been burning my hands for years? Because I did not know how much silicones can help me in my everyday life. There were microwave grips, silicone oven mitts, along with some handle protectors.
As my aunt passed the pasta, I was completely in a world of my own. All these products I can use to make my life easier are the same type of things that I have been spending the past six months learning all about. I flipped page after page, looking at all the different products, including some prep bowls. The whole experience really opened my eyes.
When I woke up the next morning, I just needed to know more. What else is out there that I am already using—or should be? Computers, electronics, automobiles, household products, personal care, etc. I came to work with an understanding of the work I was doing, something I had yet to achieve with RPN until then.
I came in and spoke to my editor, Bruce Meyer, and told him all about my process, and he said he finds himself looking at the medical gloves when he's in a doctor's office.
Each day I learn something new about the industry and all the varying components of it. It has been an interesting ride so far, and I look forward to continuing to learn.