A second-generation UW-Madison chemical engineer, Henry Theisen has drawn on his background to make an impact in the packaging industry, both as an engineer and as a leader.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from UW-Madison in 1975, Theisen joined the Bemis Company, headquartered in Neenah, Wisconsin. Bemis is a global supplier of packaging and pressure-sensitive materials, and creates packaging for consumer products ranging from food to pharmaceuticals. The company uses materials science to address a range of issues that come to bear on packaging, from keeping a product fresh to guarding food safety. Theisen’s work, in a variety of executive positions and management roles in marketing and research and development, has yielded an array of packaging advances that make the material used in the industry more effective, efficient and environmentally sound.
Theisen became president of Bemis in 2007, CEO in 2008, and was named chairman of the board in 2013. In August 2014, the company appointed a new president and CEO, and Theisen became executive chairman of the board. But he says the proudest moment in his career came in 1983, when he was awarded a U.S. patent for a unique flexible wrapping material he developed for the company. Intended for food products, the material is impervious to liquids and gases and efficiently provides grease resistance. “This development put Bemis in the No. 1 position in the packaging of natural cheeses, which it maintains to this day,” Theisen notes.
Theisen’s UW-Madison ties begin with his late father, Henry Nicholas Theisen, who earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1950 and a master’s degree in chemical engineering in 1951. The elder Theisen worked for Standard Oil of California, Stauffer Chemical, and Sterling Drug, and ultimately became a division manager for ITT-Rayonier, a pulp and paper company.
Today, the younger Theisen employs about 110 UW-Madison alumni and remains engaged with UW-Madison through such efforts as the UW E-Business Consortium. And, as he’s moved through a variety of leadership roles at Bemis, Theisen has consistently experienced the value of his chemical engineering education, whether working as an engineer or as an executive.
“Engineering provided a thought process to analyze problems and develop solutions that I used in all aspects of my career, whether in R&D, marketing, finance or management,” he says.
Theisen lives in Neenah with his wife, Kim. In his free time he enjoys the Wisconsin outdoors.