Lavergne’s Team is Expanding
As long as he can remember, John Walling wanted to be an inventor. Growing up in Michigan USA, he was intrigued by learning how things worked and looking for ways to make them work better and last longer.
That instinct undoubtedly serves him well in his current role as Lavergne’s new Vice President of Sales and Global Solutions, where he will develop customer-centred plans that help companies meet their sustainability goals. “I’m very excited to lead this initiative connecting Lavergne’s specialists with our customers’ new product development teams,” John says. “Our work is about driving solutions to help companies create more sustainable products.”
A Plastics Career Journey
During his teenage years, John’s hobbies of photography and playing sports influenced a dream of becoming a sports photographer for one of Detroit’s professional teams: the Lions for football, Tigers for baseball, or Pistons for basketball. However, his love of tinkering and building (along with practicality) led him to study mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan. Following graduation, he started down the path of a career in plastics and materials. “I was eager to get out in the world and apply what I had learned,” he said.
John’s career in the plastics industry has been impressive. After college he worked for seven years at GE Plastics. His GE Plastics tenure began with a year in the Chemical & Materials Leadership program at headquarters in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. That training led to assignments in the Detroit area working on automotive industry solutions, then in the Los Angeles area working on consumer electronics and aerospace projects.
After leaving GE he remained in Southern California for three years as the Western Region Market Development Manager for Owens Corning while completing his MBA at UCLA.
With his MBA in hand, he joined Supplybase, a dot-com startup creating a virtual marketplace for plastics. He initially worked at the group’s headquarters in Silicon Valley, but as the company grew he moved to Las Vegas, which was a convenient hub for travelling to customer sites throughout North America.
John’s most recent appointment was as the Global Strategic Marketing Manager with Victrex, bringing value to customers looking to improve performance, durability and efficiency of their products by replacing metal parts with lightweight PEEK polymers. “We successfully achieved up to 40 percent weight reduction for wire and tubing clamps used on Boeing 787, and we enabled thinner, lighter smartphone designs using less material,” John says. “However, virgin resins are energy and water-intensive to produce, so the net environmental benefits were small compared to post-consumer recycled plastic circular solutions. I’m excited to join Lavergne where we can make a more direct and significant positive impact on the planet through circular solutions.”
Joining the Lavergne Group
After 24 years working with virgin resin producers, John was ready for the next step. Earlier this year he joined Lavergne as Vice President of Sales and Global Solutions. John says: “At Lavergne, I’m excited to join the quest to make things better for the planet, our customers, and our business. My immediate focus is on developing and implementing a strategy to grow Lavergne as we build on a strong growth trend for recycled plastics.”
John’s years of industry experience and instinct for innovation are apparent.
“We will be working more with industry leaders and tackling questions of product lifecycles — ‘How do they source materials? How can Lavergne enhance their quality levels? How can Lavergne help customers set up a closed loop recycling process where customers return their products for recycling so that the recycled material can be used as raw material in that same new product?’”
A Great Fit
John admits part of him still carries that dream of becoming a sports photographer for Detroit’s Lions, Tigers or Pistons. When asked, “What about the Red Wings for hockey?”, John responded with a warm smile. “Some of my fondest childhood memories are skating and playing hockey on Michigan’s Lake Macatawa. When I heard that Lavergne is a Canadian firm headquartered in Montreal, I immediately thought about those great memories.”
John is currently based in the Philadelphia area where he lives with wife Smitha, their daughter, Melina, who is in college and their son, Nikhil, who is in high school.
John credits Melina for inspiring him to join a company with a commitment to sustainability. She is a passionate journalist and photographer completing her master’s degree in Environmental Communications at Stanford University. They are very happy to join the Lavergne family.