Welcome to M. Holland’s 2021 Market Trends Podcast Series! At the end of every year, M. Holland’s market managers take time to reflect on the previous 12 months and anticipate the year to come. What drove their market segments? What can the industry expect to see in the coming months? Typically, we share these insights and predictions in a blog, but this year we decided that a podcast format is more fitting. Listen over the next few weeks as these market managers give us an insider’s look at the plastics industry.
Last year, we predicted that automotive innovation would continue to gain traction and that the auto industry would have one of its most transformative years yet. Matt Zessin, our automotive market manager, joins us to discuss challenges related to COVID-19, the industry’s resilience and refusal to remain idle in 2020, and the advancements he’s most looking forward to in 2021.
Welcome to M. Holland’s 2021 Market Trends Podcast Series. At the end of every year, M. Holland’s market managers take time to reflect on the previous 12 months and anticipate the year to come. What drove their market segments? What can the industry expect to see in the coming months? Typically, we share these insights and predictions in a blog, but this year we decided that a podcast format is more fitting. Listen over the next few weeks as these market managers give us an insider’s look at the plastics industry.
Last year, we predicted that automotive innovation would continue to gain traction and that the auto industry would have one of its most transformative years yet. Matt Zessin, our Automotive Market Manager, joins us to discuss challenges related to COVID-19, the industry’s resilience and refusal to main idol in 2020, and the advancements he’s most looking forward to in 2021.
My name is Matt Zessin. I am the Automotive Market Manager for M. Holland. I work a lot with the different tier ones and OEMs on application development and making sure that we get the right materials and the proper applications so that the development can continue. And, we are producing the right materials, essentially. So, I work very closely with the different tiers in purchasing, as well as engineering, trying to make the process and the flow of material information easier for those tiers. And, as I said earlier, just making sure that the right materials are being used in the right applications.
And as you reflect on automotive in 2020, is there a key learning point that stands out for you?
I think that the 2020 auto market was a challenge. We went through a lot of ups and downs due to coronavirus. There was a lot of highs and lows. One thing that I really learned about the auto industry is it can be shut down for a time, you know, like we saw with corona, the plants were shut down for a month and a half, at least, depending on which plant you were looking at.
So, we weren’t producing anything, but we weren’t staying stagnant. We were still working on future applications. We were working on what the industry is going to look like going forward. And I think a lot of the things that we did at the plant level really changed the shape of 2020. A lot of it had to do with the economy, and the economy coming back on strong. But when you look at the auto industry as a whole, we ramped up quickly.
And so, when I look at it, I think that 2020 as a year in a whole, was just a resilient year. We really just tried to grind through the different cycles and just come through strong at the end. The main key learning point is that even though plants were idled, we don’t remain idled as an industry. We’re constantly pushing. We’re constantly trying to develop new technologies to better the vehicles from a safety level, a comfort level, and from an entertainment level. The cars are changing rapidly, so I think that the main point is that we’re just a resilient industry and we’re constantly working even through those down cycles.
Is there a materials application that really won the year for you?
The main application that I think about is from the electronics side. The auto market has put a lot of effort into electronics inside vehicles and how we are going to continue to develop in a technological world. That’s why CES has become so big in the auto industry. So, when I look at it, there was a new technology released yesterday from Mercedes-Benz, that’s a dashboard in a touch panel that takes up the entire front dash cockpit of the vehicle. I think that this is great technology because it shows the integration of the new air conditioning units, how they’re going to work in some of these touch zones, and exactly what the future kind of looks like for the electronics industry. So, I think that this technology is a great piece of technology. The technology is just going to continue to advance and I think that this is just that next step of showing what we can do from a technological standpoint.
From a materials standpoint, it completely changes everything that we think about, in older vehicles or vehicles that were launched within the past year or two. You still have some areas that have buttons and some different touch points showing these new technological developments. It really pushes away from those touch buttons. So, from a materials standpoint, we have to adapt with that. We have to work a lot more on the electronics side. You know, some of the different wiring behind these clusters is going to be extremely important for us, as well as some of these different touch panels and AC units that have changed. So I think from a design standpoint, a lot is changing from that instance and we have to adapt and help develop these new different technologies.
Putting 2020 in the rear view mirror, now, Matt, what stands out to you for the automotive industry in 2021? What are you most excited about?
I’m really excited to see much of what we saw at the end of 2020. I want to see the auto market continue to hit the same trajectory that they have been the past couple of months. I think that builds the amount of volume that we’ve been seeing come through really shows the resilience that I spoke about earlier. And I really hope to see that trend move into 2021.
I’m also extremely excited about the electronic changes and what’s exactly happening with autonomous vehicles because I think that that’s really where we’re trying to get to, is the full autonomy. And I think once we get to full autonomy, the amount that it’s going to impact our lives is going to be extreme and it’s going to be — you know, we talk about the disruptions in trends. When you get full autonomy, that’s a fully disruptor, and it’s really going to change the way that we either use our vehicles, or how we look at them as a whole.
Thanks Matt, for driving us through all of those great insights and thank you for listening. Continue to tune in and learn what 2020 meant and what 2021 will bring from markets including Healthcare, 3D Printing, Wire & Cable, Electrical & Electronics, Flexible Packaging, Rotational Molding, Color & Compounding, Automotive and Sustainability. All episodes can be found on the News & Insights page on the M. Holland website. We’ll see you next time.
Director, Global Automotive
As the Director of Global Automotive for M. Holland, Matt Zessin integrates cost-effective problem solving techniques and analytical analysis to deliver high-quality materials to M. Holland’s Automotive clients. He brings relationship-building skills and expertise in supply chain management to the role. Matt works closely with account managers to develop new applications aligned with the future of the automotive industry. Prior to joining M. Holland, Matt worked for Polymer Z, an automotive plastics distribution company which was acquired by M. Holland in 2015. While there, he supported supply chain initiatives and business development activities. He has also held positions with Roadrunner Transportation Services, where he managed a company-wide pricing software used to increase new business and create pricing strategies. Matt holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Supply Chain Management and Marketing from Marquette University.