An Interview with Dr. Gary Wedlake
This interview was conducted on August 10, 2008
Tell me about your educational background?
I earned degrees in Chemical Engineering from McGill University (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) and the University of Waterloo (Waterloo/Kitchener, Ontario, Canada). I later taught Chemical Engineering at the University of Alberta (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) before immigrating to the US in 1979. In 1993 I graduated from Louisiana State University’s Executive Program (Baton Rouge, Lousiana).
Tell me about your career path?
The majority of my industrial career has been in the PVC compounding industry, having worked for four PVC compound producers during the past three decades. My most recent positions were as Technical Directors for three of these companies including one of the largest in the United States. Earlier in my career, I gained experience as a Plant Manager and Sales Executive. I also consider my volunteer experiences with the Society of Plastics Engineers, Inc. and SPI to have been valuable experiences. For example, when I served as the Chairman of SPE’s Vinyl Division and member of SPI’s PVC Technical Committee I collaborated with many of the leaders in this industry.
What made you decide to start your own PVC compounding company?
At the time, I saw that there was an ongoing consolidation in this industry, with many of the smaller operations being absorbed by the larger ones. At the same time, friends and potential customers repeatedly commented on an apparent loss of technical support being offered to the smaller compound consumers. Since then, we’ve found that even very large compound users have found that we can provide responsive, cost effective support to even their operations.
Who is on your Advisory Board?
The success of Wedlake industries has come due to the support and encouragement from many friends and associates in this industry. In particular, the company’s Advisory Board, made up of a VP of technology, compounding plant superintendant and senior company executive, have all been committed contributors to this company’s growth since its very inception almost six years ago.
What types of products can you produce?
We produce both rigid and flexible powder compound on our three high intensity compounding lines.
These lines, which were built by this company, were designed for ease of operation, control and maintenance. The result has been our ability to produce consistent quality products. However, we continuously seek out ways to improve on what we have. At present we only produce flexible pellet compound but aim to be able to offer rigid pellet compound in early 2009.
Why did you pick Hohenwald, Tennessee for your business?
Hohenwald is centrally located with service to 2/3 of the U.S. population and offers easy access to major E-W and N-S transportation routes, which includes on-site rail service. Given today’s high energy costs, we feel fortunate that our choice of location will offer many customers lower delivered transportation costs.
Furthermore, the City of Hohenwald offered an ideal 8 acre site boasting a 33,000 square foot production facility. I have been very pleased with the quality of the workforce in Hohenwald - they are hardworking, innovative, and friendly. An extra bonus is that we are located in a beautiful part of the country having a moderate climate and many interesting attractions, one of which is the world renowned Elephant Sanctuary located here in Hohenwald.
To what do you ascribe to the success that Wedlake Industries has enjoyed to date?
I believe that our motto says it all: "We only succeed if our customers succeed"
This to me is so logical it's hard to expand upon except to say it means going the extra mile for each customer. In practice it means learning as much as possible about what the customer's goals are, what resources he has to achieve those goals and then ensuring that that we do our part. The latter can mean getting him the product that meets his end product specifications, but it also means ensuring that our product is consistent and that it is available when needed. Our efforts really become interesting when our customer begins to share his problems and opportunities with us. That's when we really become partners in success!
How can a customer, supplier, or employment applicant contact you?
There is a link on my website, www.wedlakeindustries.com, called "Contacts" that can be used for reaching my firm.
"We Only Succeed When Our Customers Succeed."