October is Women in Business Month and it’s also Manufacturing Month so who better to spotlight than Pat Begrowicz. She is the owner of Onyx Specialty Papers which is located in Lee and also serves on the 1Berkshire Alliance Board of Directors. The company is now in its seventh year and has grown from 121 employees to 155. Onyx is a manufacturer of specialty papers for a wide range of different markets around the globe, from decorative laminates for countertops, museum mounting, medical devices, filtration systems, to dry cleaning tags and car parts.
Pat started out her career as a chemical engineer and technical manager, growing into a Director of Research and Development for a Fortune 500 company. She is now the president of a manufacturing company: “I have gotten used to standing out from the crowd. Typically, there is rarely a line at the ladies’ room at the meetings attend,” she jokes, “but that is changing – at Onyx I am one of 6 female engineers out of 14 engineers total, and about half of the engineering interns and co-ops we hire are women.”
Pat is very adamant about challenging the disparity between men and women in the workforce, “Women in a manufacturing environment bring different perspectives, different problem-solving approaches and different teamwork and collaboration talents. This type of diversity is good for business and can lead to stronger companies able to adapt to constantly changing business conditions. It is important for those of us who have progressed nicely in our careers to turn around and support those coming behind us who aspire to similar success in STEM professions.”
Of course, manufacturing in the Berkshires is very different than anywhere else: “the best part of doing business in the Berkshires is the quality of life it offers our associates – the beauty of the area, the peaceful pace of life, the joy of spending time outdoors, and the happiness that comes from all the great cultural activities available to us.” Quality of life and cost of living in the Berkshires are a critical tool used by 1Berkshire to attract and retain talent for our many employers in the Berkshires.
”Sometimes manufacturing can be a challenge,” Pat states. The rising cost of energy in Western Massachusetts is an overwhelming deterrent for many manufacturers looking to relocate to the area. “The challenge of doing business in the Berkshires is the constant struggle to stay competitive and grow in global markets. Energy costs are very high in the state and manufacturers use a lot of energy.” This year, Pat led a campaign against a proposed hike in distribution costs from energy provider Eversource. Pat’s efforts garnered the attention of the state, and amendments were made to the Eversource proposal.
Join us in saluting Pat and also all of our women in business and manufacturing companies in the Berkshires this month and beyond.
A special thank you to our Women in Business month sponsor: Smith Green & Gold