Ahart’s personal touch ensures Toray workers’ satisfaction, safety

RIPPLE EFFECT: Lisa Ahart, vice president for corporate human resources at Toray Plastics (America), speaks with David Jose, treasurer and chief financial officer. / PBN PHOTO/MIKE SALERNO
RIPPLE EFFECT: Lisa Ahart, vice president for corporate human resources at Toray Plastics (America), speaks with David Jose, treasurer and chief financial officer. / PBN PHOTO/MIKE SALERNO

CHIEF HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICER, PUBLIC COMPANY | Lisa Ahart, Toray Plastics (America) Inc.


At the bottom of her emails, Lisa Ahart, vice president for U.S. corporate human resources at Toray Plastics (America) Inc., has a basic message: “A simple act of caring creates an endless ripple.”

Ahart, Providence Business News’ 2018 C-Suite Awards winner in the Chief Human Resources/People Officer category for public companies, applies that message to her job every day. Located in North Kingstown, Toray is the only manufacturer of precision-performance polyester, polypropylene, metalized and bio-based film, used in flexible and rigid packaging, lidding, graphic, industrial optical and electronic applications. The company has 700 employees and $400 million in annual gross revenue.

“Small things can have a major impact,” said Ahart, who also heads HR at the company’s Rhode Island site. “It can be a simple thing [such as] helping them with a payroll or benefit issue or difficulties on the job. It’s their life [and] fixing a payroll problem could help them with feeding kids.”

- Advertisement -

“During Lisa Ahart’s tenure as Toray Plastics (America)’s VP of HR, she has positioned HR as a partner to the business, representing and elevating that vital business link: the human element,” said Michael Brandmeier, president and CEO of Toray locally, in nominating her. “At Toray, Lisa is recognized by her peers and by her senior management team as a partner who helps them find, develop and retain Toray’s ‘best in class’ workforce.”

Toray’s average employee’s tenure is 11 years. Two percent of its workforce has been with the company for 30 years, and approximately 23 percent has been with Toray for more than 20 years.

“Those are remarkable statistics, especially in the context of workplace trends,” said Brandmeier. “Toray has multiple generations of the same family working at the company, a clear demonstration that parents here believe so strongly in Toray’s culture that they have encouraged their children, and in some cases their grandchildren, to seek employment at Toray.”

Fifteen years ago, Ahart was working in the nonprofit field and looking for a new opportunity. At the time, she said, she thought Toray was the best choice, and that has proven to be true. She has been in her current position for eight years.

With 38 years of experience, Toray has benefited from Ahart’s talents and experience as a leader in her field.

“She works tirelessly to keep the organization informed,” said Brandmeier, “ensuring that Toray is a legally compliant and ethically responsible company. Lisa and her team monitor industry best practices and analyze compensation programs and benefit practices so Toray remains competitive, while simultaneously maintaining care and concern for the overall workforce.”

Ahart wears another hat at Toray, as the vice president of environmental health and safety, but it’s a hat that’s strongly tied to human resources.

“There is a lot of overlapping,” said Ahart. “You are looking at the safety of employees and their well-being.”

Toray takes a lot of pride in its accomplishments in safety and keeps track of them.

Ahart says safety is handled carefully.

“Under Lisa’s stewardship, Toray has done its best to maintain a safe, distraction-free workplace environment, which we believe has led directly to the cultivation of a powerful, productive and impactful workforce,” said Brandmeier. “Lisa believes strongly that Toray’s top priority is accident prevention and that its primary objective is to maintain a safe and accident-free workplace.”

She personally sponsors employees’ children’s sports teams and works on causes that are close to her heart, including the North Kingstown Pet Refuge and the Hope Alzheimer’s Center.

“Lisa is equally active within the community, making sure that Toray is a proactive, energetic participant within Toray’s home states of Rhode Island and Virginia,” said Brandmeier. “On a personal level, the depth of caring and compassion that Lisa shows to the community is undeniable. She gives generously of her time and money to a variety of community ­organizations.”

No posts to display