Meet America’s Makers: 25 Manufacturing CEOs Thriving In The U.S.

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For the second consecutive year, Chief Executive has selected a handful of people who are really successful, whose companies represent robust trends in the U.S. manufacturing economy, or who are reshaping their industries or manufacturing as a whole.

Bob Patel / Chairman and CEO, LyondellBasell, Houston, TX

The head of the $40 billion global chemical, plastics and fuel company represents the new triumph of the American oil patch, as it innovates in packaging and aims to double exports of its natural gas liquids in the next few years.

Laura Nador

Laura Nador / President, CHEP North America, Atlanta, GA

The greening of the manufacturing supply chain is the sweet spot for this company that provides durable, high-quality pallets to many industries, and then transports and refurbishes them instead of trashing them. “More and more companies are keen to improve the sustainability of their supply chains, to reduce their footprint in carbon dioxide and source materials that never end up in a landfill,” Nador says.

Sharad and Sahil Tak / Co-Founders, ST Tissue, Isle of Wight, VA

The father-and-son combo is consolidating and revitalizing a commodity category—production of paper towels and toilet paper—in an industry that got old and lazy. ST Tissue refurbished or built new mills to become the cost and quality leader in supplying the market’s commercial segment, where price-competitiveness is king.

“We built a series of new mills close to suppliers and customers, and made the mills standardized so they could share parts,” Sahil Tak says. “It’s similar to the mini-mill concept in steel. It’s about costs and how you run the operation in a lean fashion, and the technology you’re using to that end.”

Bob Chapman

Bob Chapman / Chairman & CEO, Barry-Wehmiller, St. Louis, MO

The company is a highly diversified industrial manufacturer and an agglomeration of more than 100 acquisitions. But Chapman’s biggest contribution is speaking and consulting to try to help other companies break the cycle of employee disengagement and disaffection by building a healthy culture through what he calls “Truly Human Leadership”

Andrew Inglis and Sarah Baker / Co-Founders, Silverside Detectors, Cambridge, MA

They make arguably some of the most important equipment in America: radiation monitors that detect radiological and nuclear threats entering the U.S. Yet, they’re not running a multibillion-dollar defense contractor. A seven-year-old startup stemming from the minds of whiz kids, Silverside represents some of the best fruit of America’s growing movement of manufacturing incubators, the rising implementation of 3D printing and a penchant for vertical integration right down to subjecting these crucial national security devices to extreme temperatures in the company’s own testing area.

Andy Romjue / President, Hoffmaster Group, Fort Wayne, IN

The paper-straw business is going crazy because American consumers now hate single-use plastic waste, and Hoffmaster snapped up the Aardvark paper-straw brand—America’s largest—last year so that it could ramp up production rapidly to take advantage of the soaring market.

“There’s been a flurry of demand with plastic-straw bans and with people looking for alternative options,” Romjue says. “As that expands, and more cities announce bans and the movement spreads [around the world], we will be able to add capacity commensurate with the demand increase.”

Read more: Masters of Manufacturing: Tom Bickes Helps Close Skills Gap for U.S. Factories


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