While Mativ isn’t a startup by any means, it is a “new kid” on the manufacturing block, having been created earlier this year out of a merger of Neenah and Schweitzer-Mauduit International, Inc. (“SWM”).
But the Alpharetta-based company is one of those companies that you interact with every day even if you don’t know its name just yet. From hospital-grade air filtration systems to smart glass coatings to retail packaging, it is producing some of the most important global materials for healthcare, industrial, and retail settings.
And at the helm is CEO Julie Schertell, a veteran leader in the manufacturing arena.
After receiving her master’s degree from the University of Georgia, she started her career in the paper industry at Georgia Pacific. She said it was the place where she “fell in love” with “science and the art” of manufacturing.
“I just loved being around the products, learning what levers really drive value, and learning from people that had been on the shop floor for 30 years,” she told Hypepotamus.
Georgia Pacific opened up much more than just the manufacturing world to Schertell. During her sixteen-year tenure at the company, she also took on roles in supply chain, process engineering, sales and marketing sides of the business.
She ultimately jumped from Georgia Pacific to Neenah, another Georgia-based powerhouse in the manufacturing space. She took over Neenah’s CEO seat at the very start of Covid, which she described as a “ trial by fire” for the entire manufacturing space.
Now in 2022, she’s CEO of the latest name in Georgia’s manufacturing scene, Mativ.
Mativ is a $3 billion leader in specialty materials, producing healthcare, filtration, paper, and protective solutions materials. With customers in 100 countries, Mativ has manufacturing facilities on four continents and 7,500 employees while running the company from its Alpharetta headquarters.
“We’re not just a product supplier,” she said. “We really have the opportunity to bring unique solutions because of the breadth of the technologies that we have in our portfolio.”
Leading Through A Merger
Navigating a manufacturing company through Covid and supply chain disruptions was a feat for any CEO. Add in a merger, and you’ve got a business case that would be complicated for many of the most seasoned leaders.
But Schertell saw an opportunity to build on the solid foundation brought by both Neenah and SWM.
“This [merger] was many years in the making,” Schertell added. “Both companies had been asking about the other one….because we had so many similarities from a technology standpoint, how we go to market, and [our] customer share. So it’s a pretty natural combination and a lot of natural synergies. We announced to the market $65 million of synergies by bringing the two companies together. So that’s a significant improvement for both Neenah and for SWM.”
There is a lot on the horizon for Mativ, as the newly expanded team looks to bring key products to market at a time of intense uncertainty.
“We’re merging during a fairly challenging economic year, including supply chain disruptions, rising costs of materials, global headwinds, and pretty significant inflation,” she added. “It’s important that we keep growing our top line. There are some fantastic macro trends that support what we are doing. Think about filtration and the expectations of cleaner air and water. And think about new technologies like smart glass and paint protection…and in healthcare, the advancements in personal wellness.”