Title: Senior product manager
Location: Oconomowoc, Wisc.
Experience: Ten years in packaging, including nearly seven years with ORBIS. Zitzke is the 2022 On the Rise Award winner by PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. The award recognizes 10 young professionals who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership qualities in the packaging and processing industry.
Modern: Congratulations on the award. How did you learn you were being honored with this award?
Zitzke: I was nominated by my leadership team, and I didn’t know about it until I’d won, so it was a total surprise and definitely an honor to win. What was gratifying was the recognition for thinking about packaging in new ways. That’s important because these are mature products that have been commoditized, so there isn’t always a lot that is new.
Modern: Can you tell us a little about your background?
Zitzke: I graduated with a degree in marketing from the University of Wisconsin, and an MBA from Marquette University. My first job was with a treadmill company, and I dealt a lot with packaging and managing their trade shows. After that, I worked at Uline for four years in disposable packaging. And then I joined ORBIS 6.5 years ago. I’ve always worked on the pallet side of the business.
Modern: What brought you into packaging?
Zitzke: I entered the business by accident, but what keeps me here is digging deep into the supply chains of products we use every day as consumers. Packaging touches every step of the process, and the excitement is solving a problem that makes it easier to get something through the supply chain to the consumer.
Modern: PMMI highlighted your work on the development and launch of ORBIS’ flagship 40 x 48-inch pallet, the Odyssey. They noted that it’s “bringing ORBIS’ pallet portfolio into new manufacturing technologies, applications and markets within the reusable packaging space.” Tell us about your work on the product.
Zitzke: The Odyssey family of pallets is unique because it was designed to be fully configurable for different applications. To do that, we did a lot of front-end research to make sure it could be adapted to different applications. There are a number of options, including open deck or solid deck options, a lip or no-lip version and options for steel reinforcements. One of the most unique aspects is that we have molded anti-skid options into the pallet to create more stable loads. There’s a small rubber material that’s put into the press and permanently fused with the pallet rather than a secondary component that could cause contamination.
Modern: Sustainability is part of the supply chain discussion today. What role can packaging play in helping your customers meet their sustainability goals?
Zitzke: First, reusability is inherent in our business. But, we’re taking it one step further to help our customers achieve zero waste. All of our pallets are completely recyclable at the end of their usable life, and now, many of our pallets are made from recycled content in the first round of manufacturing.
We’re also recycling some of our clients’ materials to manufacture the products they use, including pallets. Our customers’ customers are asking their brands to be sustainable. We’re doing our part to help them meet their sustainability goals, and for their customers to feel good about doing business with them.