Holyoke, Ma – Jay Kumar, Owner and President of Universal Plastics and Mayfield Plastics, has been selected as a one of the winners of the BusinessWest’s 40 Under Forty. The award honors the region’s most accomplished and civic-minded professionals under age 40. This year’s winners represent virtually every sector of the economy and show the seemingly innumerable ways people can give back to the community.
“All of our 40 Under Forty honorees are leaders and they excel in their chosen profession and they give back within the community,” said Kate Campiti, associate publisher of BusinessWest. “This award seeks to identify those individuals who continue to build upon their track record of excellence and find new ways to improve quality of life in this region,” she said.
BusinessWest noted that Jay Kumar spent nearly a decade on Wall Street as a proprietary trader for J.P. Morgan Chase, eventually rising through the ranks to Executive Director. Kumar did very well for himself on ‘the Street,’ but there was something missing in terms of professional satisfaction, feelings that came to the surface during what Kumar called some “deep soul searching” when new financial regulations, specifically the so-called Volcker Rule, passed in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, shutting down ‘prop trading,’ as it was called. “I was talking to my father about the idea of small-business ownership,” he recalled. “I did some thinking about it and liked the idea of buying and running a small manufacturing business.”
In June 2012, Kumar purchased Universal Plastics, a Holyoke-based precision thermoformer, and has become a thoroughly hands-on owner of the operation. Since taking the reins, Kumar has expanded the company through the acquisition of Mayfield Plastics in Sutton in late 2013, while also introducing greater automation and adding new equipment that has increased efficiency and opened doors to new business.
“I was excited by the idea of building something,” Kumar told BusinessWest. “In my old career, I didn’t really get to build — it was much more about numbers and the computer screen; you never really saw what you were doing. Here, you could see we were making things; my first day here, they showed me the underside of a pool table they were making,” he went on, “You could see all these very tangible things that were being made, and that intrigued me.”
What also intrigues this father of two are the challenges to securing a qualified workforce for the years and decades to come. To that end, he has continued and expanded a long tradition of opening the doors to Universal Plastics to young people with the hopes that they might come to understand and then capitalize on the opportunities in the manufacturing sector.
“We try to encourage people to know what manufacturing is,” Kumar said, “and that it can be an exciting place to work — and a rewarding place to work.”
About Universal Plastics
Universal Plastics is a custom thermoformer based in Holyoke MA with strong legacy of expertise in manufacturing thermoformed plastic parts of the highest quality with a distinct focus on customer satisfaction. Universal has been in business for over 45 years with a world class management team and currently serves customers in a variety of industries including aerospace, medical device manufacturers, transportation, consumer products, food packaging and electronic companies.
As a custom manufacturer, Universal has made kayaks, air ducts, bus stop signs, kayaks from recycled detergent bottles, etc. In 2008 they added a 30,000 square foot addition to their Whiting Farms Road building for a total of 100,000 square feet of production and office space. The company is ISO 9001 certified.
For more information visit www.universalplastics.com
Founded in 1984 as The Western Mass. Business Journal, BusinessWest is the region’s most respected business publication. Since its founding, the magazine has featured timely, informative, entertaining articles that essentially turn a mirror to the region’s business community, the people and institutions that define it, and the issues confronting it.
Started as a bi-monthly, BusinessWest doubled its frequency in 2005 in order to better serve its readers and become both more visible and more viable in the Western Mass. region. In recent years, BusinessWest has moved well beyond its printed publication with a highly interactive Web site, participation in numerous networking, education-oriented, and fund-raising events across the region, and the introduction of its own signature events.