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Elizabeth Maddux is the First Shift Supervisor at Container Services, Inc. She started with the company over sixteen years ago as an Entry Level Packer. Elizabeth’s positive attitude and her experience working the line have been invaluable parts of her story, and big reasons why she has been able to build a great team and earn the trust of her Plant Manager. Her story also highlights the importance of professional encouragement from both our coworkers and family. 

Container Services, Inc. (“CSI”) is a premier manufacturer of rigid plastic packaging services, specializing in the production of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) containers and HDPE (high-density polyethylene) containers for specialty food & beverage and other manufacturers. CSI was founded by in July 1991 to provide custom plastic bottles to honey producers, including their iconic “honey bear” bottle. Based in Hillsboro, Kansas with a second location in New Castle, Pennsylvania, CSI has over 100 employees, and more than 150,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space, while maintaining excellent customer service and providing sophisticated, innovative and reliable plastic packaging solutions.

Transcript

Introduction

Elizabeth Maddux: Just showing up for my people every single day. I know how much they need me. I need them just as much. They know that they matter. They know that I truly care about all of them. And you really don't know what people are going through. And the one thing that we can do is to just be kind, be positive. We really need that.

Anderson Williams: Welcome to Everyday Heroes, a podcast from Shore Capital Partners that highlights the people who are building our companies from the inside, every day, often out of the spotlight. With this series, we want to pull those heroes out of the shadows. We want to hear their stories. We want to share their stories.

We want to understand what drives them, why they do what they do, how they might inspire and support others to become everyday heroes too.

In this episode, I talk with Elizabeth Maddux, a supervisor at Container Services, Inc, also known as CSI.

 

Elizabeth Maddux: I grew up in a very small town, Lincolnville, Kansas. Population less than 300 people, so I'm definitely a small-town girl.

When I graduated, I did go to Emporia State University here in Kansas and graduated with an Elementary Ed degree, and I actually never used that degree. From college, I came to Container Services in 2007. I am married. I have been with my husband for 11 years. We have 15-year-old twins, a boy, and a girl, and we have a six-year-old daughter.

So, we are very busy.

Taking A Chance

Anderson Williams: You are very busy. I'm curious about your elementary education studies. What was it that drew you to that? And do you still use that in any way, whether it's in work or parenting?

Elizabeth Maddux: Yes, I actually feel like I do use it a lot. I always wanted to be a teacher growing up. I love that feeling when you're teaching a child something and it's that moment when they actually get what you're trying to teach them, that's very rewarding.

I decided not to stick with teaching, I just decided it wasn't for me, but I decided to graduate because I only had a year left in school, so I just kept with it. And since becoming a supervisor, I feel like I use a lot of what I've learned in college with my team here with teaching them things on a daily basis.

Anderson Williams: Yeah. That passion for teaching and learning doesn't have to be synonymous with passion for the classroom, right? So go back to that time and tell us how you made that transition.

 

How did you find out about CSI and how did you get started in that role?

Elizabeth Maddux: After I graduated, I did sub in the schools here and there, but I just didn't have a passion for that. I knew it just wasn't for me, something that I wanted to do the rest of my life. I saw an ad in the paper for Container Services and I just took a chance, and I ended up loving it.

Anderson Williams: And can you just sort of step back and for listeners describe what CSI does?

 

Elizabeth Maddux: Yeah, we are a bottle manufacturing company, so we make all sorts of kind of bottles. Dog shampoo, honey, gunpowder bottles. It's a wide variety.

Anderson Williams: And what was your role when you started?

Elizabeth Maddux: I started as an entry level packer. I was on the line packing bottles.

Anderson Williams: And just give us a sense. What was it you loved about it?

What was it when you found, it's a big shift, right? From going from one directly from college into work, but also going from the sort of idea of elementary education into packing bottles. Say a little bit more about what you found that you loved so much.

Elizabeth Maddux: So, I very much like routine. I know what to expect every day.

So, I knew coming in, I felt very comfortable. I knew exactly what I'm going to be doing every day.

In It Together

Anderson Williams: Elizabeth loved working at Container Services immediately, but one of the things she loved so much was the routine. Since those early years on the line, however, Elizabeth has taken on the lead role and is now a supervisor.

So far from the routine of working the line, she now primarily works with people, which rarely seems routine. So, I wanted to hear Elizabeth talk about that evolution and growth and how she approaches her work with her team as a result.

In your supervisor kind of role, what have you had to do, how have you grown, how have you developed into that position as compared to where you were even a few years ago?

What have you had to do professionally or personally to grow into the supervisor role?

Elizabeth Maddux: I think the fact that I started as a packer on the line, I know their struggles, I know what they deal with every day, and then going to a lead position, which I did for several years, so I was responsible for training everyone, and then now I'm a supervisor, and I have been for the last seven years.

 

So now my job is more to oversee the employees and make sure that we are doing everything we can to make sure that they are successful in their job, and it's just constant checking in with them making sure they're doing okay. Asking them if there's anything that we can be doing better because I always have felt like we are working for them. So, I can easily walk out on the floor, and I will know if somebody's struggling just by taking in their work area. Maybe they're getting backed up on their bottles and I will immediately go over there and ask them, do you need help?

Is there anything wrong? Is there anything that I can do to help you? It's because I've been doing it for so long. I can see if somebody's struggling, even just the look on their face. I will ask them, are you doing, okay? I did just have that happen yesterday. I could tell somebody was really struggling and he actually just told me, no, I'm just dealing with something outside of work and I just reassured him that it's okay.

 

And if there's anything I can do to help, please let me know. If you just need to talk, if you need to get off the floor for five minutes, I just always try to do whatever I can to help them.

Anderson Williams: Yeah, because you've been there, right?

Elizabeth Maddux: I have been there, and I know what it feels like and sometimes I have had to do that.

 

I'll cover them on their line so they can just take a break for five minutes and they come back and they're fine.

Anderson Williams: Yeah. I mean, I think that's what you're describing is using your experience to kind of observe and just be able to recognize not just if somebody is falling behind, but what their body language is or if they're off or what other things are happening for them.

Elizabeth Maddux: Yes, absolutely. When I was a packer, the supervisor at the time was not very supportive and their mood, attitude, everything like that is a direct reflection on your team. They will feed off of that. And so, I learned all of these things that, so when I became a supervisor, I wanted to be what I wished I would have had when I was a packer.

So, I consider myself to be a very happy, personable person. So, I almost always have a smile on my face when I'm looking at my packers. They're smiling right back at me. They feed off of that. It's just so important. I also meet individually with them every month. We talk about anything. It doesn't even have to be work related.

It can just be personal things going on. I truly care about all of them, and they know that.

Anderson Williams: It sounds very personal, and you've come across as very natural and connecting that way.

Elizabeth Maddux: Yes, I really love what I do. I really can't say it enough. It's very rewarding for me. If they're having a good day, I'm having a good day, and if I make sure I'm having a good day, that is a direct reflection on them, and they're having a good day.

It goes hand in hand. We're in it together.

Positive Environment

Anderson Williams: Travis Hett is the plant manager at Container Services in the Hillsborough, Kansas facility where Elizabeth also works. And he's the one who nominated her as an Everyday Hero. In his nomination, Travis mentioned specifically how Elizabeth looks out for her team members and encourages a positive work environment.

So, I asked him to share more about that.

Travis Hett: I think it's the fact how she means well for her team. It's not just, hey, I'm here to be a leader, a supervisor and put in my 10 hours for the day and go home. She tries to help her team excel and grow and educate them on how they can advance. And I think that alone is just the positive type leader I want in the organization to help others succeed and grow professionally and personally through the journey of life overall.

Because at the end of the day, we're spending more time here at work with our fellow colleagues than we really do at home with our families.

Anderson Williams: For context, for CSI, is there an example or a story that comes to mind where she really has helped somebody grow or reframe where they were toward growth, just in a real practical sense?

Travis Hett: I think there might be a pretty good example here just recently of an individual that's been with the organization for about five years, not a very social individual, but she found ways to communicate well with her, like Liz being very friendly and personable, which has her dedicated one on one sitting down in the office.

This individual wanted to move forward in the organization, but just didn't really have the right fit for the positions that were open at the time. And Liz expressed the concern about that at the time but shaping her and trying to focus on a growth path by the things that we wanted to see the development on.

And here recently, a position opened up that was actually perfect for her. And that's where Liz steps up and goes to her and says, this is your fit. This is where I think you need to land. And it fit this person perfectly. And I think this is a good example of Liz being able to identify that as a leader.

Be positive in her messaging to that team member of how she wants to see them develop. And then wait until the opportunity did come open to basically highly recommend them to the other department for this post position to interact with the production staff too.

Leap Of Faith

Anderson Williams: When people know their leader, or their supervisor, not only has their back, but has their best interests in mind, it creates enormous commitment and engagement.

People feel seen. People feel known. People feel cared about. And those team members pay it forward not only through their relationships, but through their hard work. But as natural and effective as she is in building these connections in this culture, Elizabeth never really saw herself doing this work.

In fact, it was someone else looking out for her, the way Travis showed us that she looks out for her team, that helped her get where she is today.

Elizabeth Maddux: So, I actually started here when I was 26 years old, and I am now 42. So, I'm so proud of the fact that I am a supervisor. If you would have told me when I first started here that eventually one day, I will be a supervisor on this shift, I never would have believed you.

It's been a slow progression over the years, but I do think that is why I am really good at my job.

 

Anderson Williams: And what is it about maybe that you thought you couldn't have gotten there and then you've proven yourself wrong?

Elizabeth Maddux: So, I really like stability, knowing what to expect. It was just the fear of unknown, fear of failure, not knowing if I could do it.

And I could, I did it. I took a leap of faith with a lot of encouragement from my husband. He really encouraged me to take that step. The biggest step was that packer position to the lead. And he really supported me when I needed it. So, he was just trying to reiterate to me, for seven years, I did nothing but pack, and he just kept trying to say who better to be a lead than somebody who has done nothing but pack, be on the line for the last seven years.

He goes, you know what, you know the job, and now you can teach people to do what you do every single day, and I'm so thankful that I did that.

Anderson Williams: I asked Travis how valuable it's been, in his two years on the job, to have someone with the experience and attitude of Elizabeth in that supervisor role.

Travis Hett: It's extremely helpful when you as a site manager can delegate to someone that knows the operations and that you can count on them and trust them with confidence that they're going to do the job correct and do it in a timely manner.

And if they can't, they're going to give me the feedback that they may not be able to achieve that. Also, the fact that she's been able to contribute to such a positive environment and one that really pushes that, hey, we become how we act and if we're going to be all pessimistic and negative, we're all going to start acting like that.

So, let's try and spread positivity. And the one thing I've really enjoyed with Liz is that she always greets me with a smile. She makes a choice to do that.

Elizabeth’s Advice

Anderson Williams: Her time at Container Services has been a journey of personal and professional growth and development. Elizabeth, with the encouragement of her husband, has pushed herself beyond where she imagined she could go.

She's also used that experience and wisdom to help encourage and push her team to continue to learn and grow as well. So, I wondered what advice she would offer that version of herself early on the job at Container Services based on what she knows today.

And if you were to go back to that 2007 version of yourself, or maybe that just the packer version for as long as you did that.

What advice would you give that version of you now that you're in the supervisor role and you found the success, you've been recognized as an everyday hero? What advice would you give that version of you?

 

Elizabeth Maddux: I would tell her to stay strong, even on all the hard days. It's going to be so worth it. There's so many people that are going to work here that need my positive attitude and strong leadership.

 

The impact that I'm going to have on these people, it's just going to be so rewarding.

Anderson Williams: And how do you translate some of that? You've got twins that are 15 and a daughter who's 6, twin boy and twin girl, and another daughter who's 6. How do you translate that power you have of positivity into that parenting role.

Elizabeth Maddux: It's the same way at home. I try to be positive and encouraging always, especially with kids, because they need it, especially my 15-year-olds. You know, my daughter, it's hard being a teenager. And so, I'm their number one fan, their number one supporter. It really goes how I am at work is how I am at home.

I hope my kids know this. I hope they know I'm their number one fan.

Anderson Williams: They will after this anyway.

Elizabeth Maddux: Yeah, I'm gonna have them listen to this.

Anderson Williams: We'll deliver, we'll make sure we deliver that message.

What advice do you have for them as you think about your journey, your career, things you've learned about yourself, about the world?

Elizabeth Maddux: I would say stay true to yourself, to who you are. I would say to stay near to God. I grew up in a church and it really helped guide me and form me into the person that I am today, and I see it happening with my own children. I don't know how people walk through life without it. My faith is so important to me, so I would just say, stay true to yourself.

You know who you are, you know what you stand for, and I guess that would be it.

Anderson Williams: Elizabeth Maddux is an everyday hero whose superpower is her positivity. Elizabeth has made a decision and has been guided by her faith to be a positive influence on the people and the world around her. She takes care of her people and her family and encourages them to become the best version of themselves. And at a critical time in her own journey, she was wise enough to listen to her husband as he shared similar encouragement and wisdom with her.

If you enjoyed this episode, check out our other Everyday Heroes at www.shorecp.university/podcasts. There you will also find episodes from our Microcap Moments as well as our Bigger. Stronger. Faster. series, each highlighting the stories and strategies that make the microcap space unique.

This podcast was produced by Shore Capital Partners with story and narration by Anderson Williams. Recording and editing by Andrew Malone. Editing by Reel Audiobooks. Sound design, mixing, and mastering by Mark Galup of Reel Audiobooks.

Special thanks to Elizabeth Maddux and Travis Hett.

This podcast is the property of Shore Capital Partners, LLC. None of the content herein is investment advice, an offer of investment advisory services, nor a recommendation or offer relating to any security. See the Terms of Use page on the Shore Capital website for other important information.

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