Thermoforming Report

July Thermoforming Report: Leveraging Layoffs

by Keith Brown, President & Owner, Siena Group.

July 2023.

This month’s main article is all about layoffs – they are painful from any point of view. I’m working with a couple of really talented people that were recently impacted (including a recently featured Director of Ops). I’m also tuned into several organizations that have made changes that have impacted their sales team. The info below highlights how to navigate landing a new role if you’ve been impacted or how to find that talent that just hit the market.

As usual, we have several great articles relevant to our industry and quite a few amazing All Stars to highlight! Check them out down below in the links on the right. We also have more extraordinary talent in the Featured Talent tab.

Leveraging Layoffs

Layoffs happen… for lots of reasons. If you’ve been around manufacturing long enough, you will know this firsthand – either as the one having to execute the layoff or the one impacted… or in some cases, both!

The question is, how can you leverage this event, as the one looking for a new opportunity or as a decision-maker seeking out new, hard-to-find talent? There are plans to make and steps to take for both scenarios!

I was Impacted!

One day, you are working. The next day you are not. You were laid off. Now you’re trying to figure out what to do next. The reasons really don’t matter – it could be any number of things. What matters is that you are a professional and in the unlovely position of looking for a new opportunity with a renewed – albeit forced – sense of urgency. You have responsibilities. Family. Mortgage. Bills. Your budget likely can’t take much downtime being out of a job. Lots of thoughts and questions are churning through your mind. [Check out June’s Blog to understand how I handled this scenario when it happened to me.]

When I was faced with this reality over 9 years ago, I thought about where my career had taken me, what I really enjoyed about my work, the things I was good at & why I was good at them, and considered opportunities and roads not pursued for whatever reason. This was a great exercise that really allowed me to think long and hard about my next step. I believe it was the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard that said that “life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”

Candidate: What’s My Plan?

Let’s all agree: Getting laid off sucks. What’s weird is that even if you hated the job or were considering looking for a new role, the impact of “We’re sorry but there’s been a layoff and you were impactedstill stings. And it is obviously much worse if you weren’t expecting to hear that painful statement! 

So, what now? First, you need to take some time to recover and protect yourself a bit. This is a great article on how to ensure you are moving forward and taking care of yourself mentally and emotionally. 

Now you need a plan. I strongly encourage thinking things through and not just doing a “Ready, Fire, Aim” approach.  There is a lot out there (including a book) that supports this approach, but, in my opinion, it is NOT valid when it comes to finding a new role and company. While I agree that the idea of getting going and making things happen is a good one, you do need to be cautious.  I have spoken with too many people who – after only being at a company for a short time – have shared, “I took the first opportunity without doing enough due diligence and am now needing a new role”. 

We dug into this in more detail in our April Thermoforming Report; I encourage you to revisit it as it highlights several key strategies to move forward via a structured approach. 

Whatever plan you make, you should rebound quickly. A recent CNBC article provides this advice from a Harvard Business School professor, Sandra Sucher, who studies layoffs: “There’s one thing that really matters to rebound in the job market: how you frame your narrative.” 

People who fare best after having been let go are able to say and believe that this was a decision that the company made for economic reasons, and it does not have to do with my performance,” says Sucher. “The sooner you can get to the point of saying, ‘That’s on them and not me,’ the more positive mindset you’ll have.” 

CNBC article
Company: We Need Talent!

Leaders: Do you need someone to plug a key gap in your organization? Most likely, the answer is always YES!

Accessing talent is not easy in this market. It is a topic near and dear to my heart given what we do at Siena Group!  Taking advantage of niched external resources is an obvious choice. Are there other strategies that can support both our internal and external partners to expedite the search efforts? Yes, and that answer is knowledge and awareness. 

Being aware of the marketplace can dramatically assist your team in finding and scooping up new talent. If you were made aware that a thermoforming company was scheduled to shut down in your region, do you think it would be wise to reach out and snap up all those trained employees? Most certainly! 

This is not a revelation by any means. This kind of local and regional market information tends to be something known by the HR professionals in the area. Good companies work to help their employees transition quickly and work across organizations and chambers to make that happen. What is much harder is knowing what’s going on outside of your immediate vicinity. 

Company: What’s Our Plan?

Like pretty much everything else in your world, it takes effort, energy, and resources to come up with a plan and strategy to extend your reach. If you are looking to grow your business in a new part of the country, you tend to seek out and hire a sales professional with experience in that particular market to bring industry contacts and new business development, correct? Staying tuned into the thermoforming world beyond your borders means hiring an expert in the business (shameless plug for Siena Group!) or developing that capability internally. 

Here is the not-so-secret secret to doing this well: talking with people! One of the great things about working across the thermoforming world as I do is the privilege of talking with a variety of talent from all different backgrounds and disciplines. These conversations allow me to ask questions and learn about what’s going on. 

Additionally, there are several great resources out there that regularly publish news about the industry: Plastics News, Plastics Today, and SPE Thermoforming to name a few. Then there are trade shows that provide excellent networking opportunities – Med Device, Pack Expo, and so many other industry-specific conferences and events. 

Combining conversations, publications, and conferences enables someone to have key insights into when and where things are happening that could free up talent. 


As expected, it boils down to having a solid approach and strategy. If you were laid off, be deliberate, think about your desired next step, create a plan, and move forward. If you are a leader in need of talent, know how you are going to tap into the broader market – either via an internal resource that is highly tuned in or with an external resource that knows the thermoforming manufacturing (and parallel industries) world. 

Now, go and get that new role or talent! 

As a talent recruiter, we represent clients AND candidates! We’re here to help in any and every way possible! We provide resume facelifts, job searches, client introductions, interview tips, and resignation strategies [read more in our Job Transition Tips blog]. Let’s Strengthen Your Search!  

“There’s one thing that really matters to rebound in the job market: how you frame your narrative.” Sandra Sucher, Harvard Business Professor

  • Resin Prices Slide for PP, PET. via Plastics News.
  • 6 Forces Shaping Plastics Recycling. via Plastics Today.
  • Monthly Resin Report: Bearish Economy Weighs on Plastics Demand. via Plastics Today.
  • Resin Price Report: Demand Stirs after July 4 Lull. via Plastics Today.
  • Brentwood Expands Thermoforming Footprint in Mexico. via Plastics News.
  • Finding the Best ERP System for Plastics Processing. via Plastics Today.
  • How the End of Affirmative Action Reroutes the Talent Pipeline. via Forbes.
  • Why Do Cybercriminals Love Manufacturers So Much? via Industry Week.
  • Global Economic Optimism Continues to Grow During Turbulent Times, June 2023 Survey Report says. via McKinsey.
  • The State of Globalization in 2023. via Harvard Business Review.
  • BLS Employment Report – June 2023. via MRINetwork.
  • My Story: ‘What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?’
    One day you’re working. The next day you’re not. Most everyone experiences a life change of some significance. In this article, I tell you MY STORY. It all started with the iconic question that adults ask kids all the time: “What do you want to be when you grow up?“. via Siena Group.
  • Four Qualities that Set Successful CXOs Apart
    The latest addition to the C-Suite – the Chief Experience Officer – is the glue that holds the customer experience together. This article uncovers the essential qualities critical to being a successful CXO. via CEO Magazine.
  • Six Ways to Become a More Collaborative Leader
    Most experienced leaders are driven by a desire to make a significant impact and drive meaningful change. Affecting lasting change is not a solitary crusade, but rather an inherently shared effort. Success depends on being a collaborative leader versus a change-crusader. via Harvard Business Review.
  • The Right Tools for the Right Job
    Earlier this year, I wrote an article reminding us of the tools necessary for success when finding the right new person or new role. It dovetails nicely with this month’s article on Leveraging Layoffs. via Siena Group.
  • Return-to-Office Debate is Not Over
    Many CEOs had hoped after putting RTO mandates in place, the debate would be over. But the data in key markets like NYC shows that workers are holding out, and experts say part of the issue is leaders have not done the best job of enticing their employees back. via CNBC.

3-for-1 Thermoforming Leader: This Product Development, Technical Sales Leader, and Tool Designer brings more than 20 years of experience in thin-gauge thermoforming. With the bulk of his experience in medical device packaging, he brings unique expertise and the ability to connect with customers, thanks to his very strong technical knowledge and application!

Director of Manufacturing Operations: This Senior Operations Leader has a unique skillset plus experience in supporting and leading multiple manufacturing plants – most recently in thin-gauge thermoforming. He has a solid background in engineering and maintenance before shifting over to operations leadership!

HR Director/VP: This high-level HR Leader has tremendous scope including global accountability for large organizations. His key strengths center on effectively managing change and gaining the trust and respect of a team.

Sales Director: With over 30 years in food service and packaging, this Sales Leader brings a tremendous book of business and industry knowledge. He is a “both/and” type of Sales Leader – he can lead his team AND be the key contact for critical and large clients!

Even More Thermoforming Talent! We work with so many talented people in so many different functions – and all in thermoforming – that we can’t possibly highlight them all! We are here to be your Thermoforming Talent Partner. Whether it’s an Operations Leader, Plant Manager, Supply Chain Leader, HR Leader, specialized Engineer, Quality Leader, Sales Leader, or pretty much any thermoforming role, we are here to help. If you have a need, please do not hesitate to just reach out! 

Click for more All-Stars.

At Siena Group, we are your Thermoforming Talent Partner. With more than 30 years of experience in manufacturing, hiring & recruiting talent, we bring a greater understanding of the companies we partner with and the candidates we pursue.
Let’s Strengthen Your Search!

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