Emerging Leaders: Matt Biell of Container Systems

Home-Grown Leadership: Matt Biell of Container Systems shares his material handling industry and leadership experiences from working on a maple syrup farm to a warehouse.

By Nicole Needles

Matt Biell graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While still in college, he moved to help his uncle start a maple syrup farm in Vermont. This job led to Biell declaring a farm management major upon his return, and he also took his experience on the farm to start his own business selling maple syrup at an Illinois farmers market. Flash forward a few years later, and he starts working at Container Systems. Biell said he brought his “entrepreneurial spirit and home-grown sales skills” with him.

He said, “Although the inside of a warehouse is about the polar opposite of being outside on a farm, I am happy with how my career has progressed and even happier to be involved in the material handling world.”

He’s taken his amazing work ethic to the next level by investing in his leadership skills. At the Emerging Leaders Conference, he enjoyed speaking with people in similar life stages because he doesn’t work with many people his age. Interacting with peers showed him that he is not alone in his struggles in the workplace and that they bring some of the same strengths to work with them every day.

“Young people bring new interest and energy to an already awesome industry. Speaking for myself, I like to try and work smarter, not harder, by leveraging technology to increase efficiency and communication,” Biell said. “The key is to couple the things that young people bring with the inherent knowledge and irreplaceable years of experience the veterans bring to the table to always improve how we can service our customers.”

He credits learning lessons like these and many others to his grandfather, who started the family company. Biell’s childhood includes memories of his grandfather teaching him and his siblings how to make extra cash on school breaks. He had a steady example of hard work growing up. He’s learned a lot in the workplace from co-worker Steve Marak, who recently retired. Biell observed and learned from Marak about problem-solving and creative solutions in his final year with the company.

Eager and growing leaders are always looking for bits of wisdom from those who came before them. For Biell, it’s all about following the golden rule and being a leader of integrity. Or, in his words, to lead by example.

“It is so crucial to not ask of someone what you would not do yourself, so taking that a step further by actually showing those you lead how to do something by doing it with them goes a long way,” he said.

From here, Biell will only continue to grow. Staying in the family business is something he enjoys and sees as a priority in his career. He wants to contribute all that he can to the company. While his best career years are still unwritten ahead of him, one thing is certain: he loves what he does.

“I like being involved in what I consider to be the backbone of our supply chain and being able to use my own skills and experiences to impact my customers and their businesses positively,” he said.