The business world is a competitive one. Organizations big and small are all working toward strategies to stand out from their competitors and grow marketing strategies that point them in that direction. It can be particularly challenging for women, in that the male presence in the business atmosphere is traditionally greater. So, it was especially sweet for Tori (Tuttle) Durliat ’93 M ‘99, director of marketing for Advanced Drainage Systems (ADS), when she was awarded the Women Breaking the Mold Award – an award for women leading in executive and managerial roles whose commitment, virtue, and hard work have made a lasting impact on the plastic industry – in August of last year.
It isn’t the only recognition Durliat has gotten in her nearly thirty-year career in the rubber and plastics industry. She was honored with the Ducks Unlimited Competitive Edge Award, recognizing ADS’ and her contributions to the environment; as “Member of the Year for 2011” by the Plastics Pipe Institute (PPI), an award presented annually by industry peers who evaluate and vote for one individual from hundreds of PPI members; and she was also given the Findlay/Hancock County Chamber of Commerce, Gilmore Jasion Mahler Manufacturing and Distribution Leadership Impact Award in October.
Durliat, who has been with ADS since 1998 at its corporate north campus in Findlay, helped build the iconic ADS Inc. green stripe brand, translating, she said, to $1.7 billion in company revenue. Her success and growth with the company can be attributed in part to the midwestern philosophy that she was raised on, one that was instilled in her by her own parents. She explained that her dad worked for the local post office in the early mornings, getting off work at noon and heading to a second job of working on the family grain and black angus cattle farm until dark. “My mom worked right along beside him raising me and my siblings all while driving tractor and balancing the books,” she added. “They instilled the importance of having a good work ethic and gave me the confidence that anything can be achieved or accomplishment by working hard at it.”
From growing up in the local area and graduating from Liberty Benton High School in Findlay, Durliat knows a thing or two about what makes both the community and her alma mater, University of Findlay, such great places to learn commitment, values, and leadership. Noting, among her “greatest achievements,” being a wife of twenty-four years and a mother to “four incredible children,” her connection to family and these aforementioned midwestern ethics is something that Durliat said is yet another barometer of success and provider of particular skills, alongside those that are professional, that reflect her time at University of Findlay.
A commuter to and from campus, Durliat said that, as a freshman, she wondered if she would feel a part of the UF culture as much as those who live on campus. Some colleges aren’t as committed to those students who live at home, and, as a result, those students often fall through the cracks. Not so for UF, Durliat said. “I met and spent time with a great group of friends, a lot of them commuters like me, and we’d hang out in the AMU and study and talk and play ping pong in the rec room that was there,” she said. “There was even a commuter club back then that made us really feel like we were a part of things. It helped a lot.”
Along with that group of friends, with which she is still close and often spends time, Durliat added, the business program really helped her to grow and succeed, mainly because of the hands-on learning, internship opportunities, and hardworking attributes that seem to permeate campus. “It’s difficult to explain for those who aren’t a part of it and the area,” she said. “I feel like [the midwestern ethics] are an important part of UF and the Hancock County area.” She mentioned things like reliability, kindness, and accountability as being paramount cogs in this local wheel, and that she’s seen these values carry over into the local workforce time and time again.
Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing, Durliat said she “was fortunate” to find employment with Hercules Tire and Rubber Company, a former business in Findlay, in their Precure/Retreading division. The pull and practicality of a UF education called her back during this time, as she once again became an Oiler, this time as a graduate student attending evening and weekend classes to eventually earn an MBA in Marketing and Advertising, an education that was fully funded by the company.
For her personal and professional achievements, Durliat should be seen as not just a successful woman, but as a successful human. She’s happy, she’s driven, and she’s accomplished. And her time on campus, before walking under the Griffith Memorial Arch on her graduation days, helped lead her in that direction and beyond. “UF was definitely a big part of it,” she said. “I am fortunate to have my dream job now, and my goal is to keep learning every day and meet new people to make the journey into retirement interesting.”