Meet A Member: Dave Wowak
A Green Business Network Member Spotlight
Get to know Green Business Network member Dave Wowak, a sales executive with Pratt Industries. We recently sat down and talked with Dave about what makes Pratt Industries stand out above other cardboard box and display manufacturers and why helping the environment and his clients is important to him.
Dave Wowak has always been an outdoors-minded person and very aware of the environment around him. When starting a career in sales, he found himself attracted to a product and a company that incorporated sustainability into its core – and for the past 3.5 years has found that match working at Pratt Industries.
With 65 locations in North America and more globally, Pratt Industries is the only corrugated box and display manufacturer using 100% recycled paper.
Locally, Pratt operates a sheet plant in Kansas City, Mo., located on Topping Avenue just west of Front Street and I-435. At this plant, sheets of cardboard made at their corrugating facility in nearby Wichita, Kan., are converted into boxes and displays for customers.
Wowak says their customers range from large retailers like Home Depot and Amazon all the way down to small “mom and pop” shops. One of Pratt’s biggest clients here locally is Boulevard Brewing Company.
“They are a great customer and a great partner. They stimulate us to innovate in ways we never thought possible. They have also helped us develop our close-the-loop program on a local scale and push us to help them keep stuff out of the landfill. They are a great partner in challenging us creatively.”
The closed loop program Wowak refers to is a service it provides customers who want to not only source sustainable products up front, but who also want to recycle their waste on the back end – creating a closed loop system. In addition to helping their clients recycle paper as input material into the five paper mills Pratt operates in North America, they work with various vendors to help them keep other waste materials out of the landfill such as strapping, buckets, glass, and plastic to name a few.
The company doesn’t just pride itself on being green, though.
“Not only do we have this great green component – we’re also very good at design and service. We have lots of homegrown talent that’s been with the company for many years. So, we’re able to really perform outside of the green realm as well.”
As a sales executive, Wowak’s biggest challenge he says is getting potential clients to consider using 100% recycled for their packaging.
“The biggest misconception is that It’s an inferior product. Fifteen to 20 years ago, that was true. But we’ve made such strides in our technology that now we’re able to make a box and preserve the long fibers in the recycled material that will hold up. Now we’re apples to apples when comparing us to virgin paper made from trees.”
Joining the Green Business Network has been a way for Wowak to spread awareness of their sustainably sourced boxes and to connect with others who share his passion.
“I wanted to see what else was out there – who was also speaking this language. I also wanted to tell people about us and what we do. As a company, we make an incredible product that is just as good or better as anything else out there – and we don’t cost anymore.”
“Becoming a part of a group that already gets it – and being involved in that beyond our own commodity – is invigorating.”