Building on Success, ALPOLIC Americas Hires New Plant Manager
2021 is a pivotal year for the ALPOLIC brand, celebrating its 50th year of redefining architecture around the world. At our American headquarters in Chesapeake, Virginia, our expanded production and storage capacity has improved operations, and our new administration building will be opening in time for ALPOLIC America’s 30th anniversary. Restructuring has strengthened our corporate standing and now as a division of Mitsubishi Chemical America, the U.S. ALPOLIC division is poised to leverage the collective strength of MCA to drive further growth and success. Shepherding in this new era, ALPOLIC is proud to welcome Mehul Shah as the new plant manager.
We sat down with Shah to discuss his first impressions, his leadership style and his vision for the next chapter of ALPOLIC’s achievement.
Now that you’ve had a chance to settle in, what are your first impressions of ALPOLIC Americas?
What I can see right away is how close knit it is here. Teamwork is paramount and I’ve seen that in practice. Regardless of the different titles, everyone can come together here. It’s a different culture than other places I’ve worked at. It’s very unique, that approachable, open door attitude. And the other thing that stood out was the longevity of many of the employees. I’m sure elsewhere that could lead to people being set in their ways. But I’ve found people here are open to feedback.
Even something as simple as onboarding. I had some suggestions and they’re going to make changes. It’s a part of my style; I’m not going to let an opportunity go to waste. I’m hoping to bring in my leadership style, a sort of servant leadership, to ALPOLIC so we can continue to make things better for the next person.
How would you describe your leadership style?
Open, flexible, diverse. Honestly, one leadership style doesn’t work for every situation. But at the end of the day, you just need to connect with your people. As simple as it sounds it’s difficult to do. Meeting people, for me, has always been a pretty smooth process. These days we fist bump as a greeting, but it goes a long way. These small gestures are appreciated, and they come from me naturally. It’s what I define as the human factor. Ultimately, I hope to bring my own unique flavor to ALPOLIC. It’s a process, a dialogue, but so far, people are open and receiving to new ideas.
How do you see your role as plant manager?
My idea is more to work on the strategic level, not only the ground level. I’m not here to just fight daily fires. After 30 years, ALPOLIC is good at resolving problems. The team has got it, they don’t need me for the day to day. Instead, I will challenge constantly how we can do better; do more with less. Are we only working harder or are we working smarter? This is a great opportunity for us to get better.
We’ll work to change certain mindsets or assumptions. I don’t think there’s a harm in over-communication internally. It’s okay to voice things and you have to encourage your people to come to the table. I will present ideas and ask questions. “Have you looked into this?” Branching out and working through plans A, B, C and D.
Ultimately, I look forward to defining my own role, working through the job description versus the expectations I want to set for myself. But I see where I can come in.
What is your vision for ALPOLIC Americas production?
The leadership team has a vision for where ALPOLIC is going to be 5, 10 years down the road. Production can be prepared to meet that vision with training and development. Empowering your workforce to do better is key. I come from a continuous improvement background and ask, “What other challenges are coming our way?” I want more robust assurances that our process will always be in control and that our workforce is capable of meeting those challenges. We rely on our operators for their critical decisions on the floor and their soft skills are important. I want to explore technology. New technology and tools provides us greater opportunity for efficiency. I want to continue to bring excitement into production. Technology, training and development. We have to take that leap.
Mehul Shah has 12 years’ experience in manufacturing and holds Masters degrees in Chemistry, Engineering Management and Chemical Engineering from Florida Institute of Technology.