Archive for March, 2016

Chase Plastics takes top spot in Best Places to Work 2016

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Chase Plastic Services Inc. employees on a company outing.

Chase Plastic Services Inc. employees on a company outing.

A newcomer to Plastics News’ Best Places to Work ranking takes the top spot this year: resin distributor Chase Plastic Services Inc. of Clarkston, Mich.

When husband-and-wife team Kevin and Carole Chase founded the company almost 24 years ago, “neither of us knew what we were doing,” Kevin Chase said in a recent phone interview.

But they must have figured it out.

The company just moved into a $1.3 million-dollar expansion that effectively doubled its space in the Detroit suburb of Clarkston to 28,000 square feet. Chase Plastics had operated from just the second floor of its building, atop 14,000 square feet of space that was mostly vacant. The company gutted that area, remodeled it and moved in early in February.

The month before, the firm broke ground on a 125,000-square-foot, “extremely productive, wireless warehouse” in South Bend, Ind. The $6 million facility will replace a 90,000-square-foot building the company had been leasing.

It’s all a far cry from the firm’s beginnings, when Carole Chase delivered materials out of the trunk of her car. Chase Plastics now offers more than 6,400 products in the U.S. and nine other countries. Its 34-plus resin suppliers span the globe.

Chase said sales grew 9 percent from 2013 to 2014 reaching $217 million, and he expects them to exceed $230 million this year. Some of that growth comes from inroads the company has made into Canada, and from the strength of the U.S. automotive market. Chase Plastics specializes in engineering and specialty thermoplastics used in automotive, medical, electrical and electronics markets.

With all the growth, “We’re hiring frequently,” he said. The company’s careful hiring process probably contributes to the staff’s satisfaction level.

“When we talk to prospective team members, we want them to interview us as much as we interview them,” Chase said. The result? “We have outstanding people who are passionate about their work.”

While the couple retains 68 percent ownership in the company today, some employees now are owners, too — which also might also explain why the staff enjoys working there. Owning part of the company “gets you skin in the game,” Chase said.

“It allows them to understand the future of the business; it gives them a seat at the table. One of the worst decisions an owner can make is to think he or she can do it all on their own.”

Some of the five minority owners have been with the company more than 20 years.

“The younger ones are part of the succession plan,” he said.

Even though the company isn’t family-owned, “We do everything we can to treat all of our 110 employees as a family,” Chase said. “We treat them fairly and honestly, with no favoritism whatsoever — we don’t have time for that.”

When everyone’s in balance, “that’s when you can be productive, effective and have a damn good time,’’ he added. “You’ve got to remember that … it’s not about the money; it’s about why God put you on this earth.”

In addition to the benefits one might expect from a “best place to work” — such as medical and prescription coverage for employees and dependents, flexible spending accounts, a health savings account to which the company contributes $250 annually and so on — Chase Plastics offers a 401(k) program, critical illness insurance, bonuses when objectives are met and partially paid gym memberships.

And then there’s the food. And competitions. And competitions involving food.

“We love to eat and socialize,” the company said in its Best Places to Work submission. “You name it, and we can have a competition on it — all in good fun!”

There are chili cook-offs, barbecues and potlucks, quarterly luncheons, cornhole tournaments and ladder golf games, best-decorated cubicle contests for Halloween and Christmas, competitions for the ugliest sweater, best costume and craziest slippers, and a pumpkin-carving contest.

In some not-so-silly activities, employees get paid (and fed) to help out charities such as Habitat for Humanity. They hold food drives and adopt families for the holidays with gift donations and volunteer work. The company sponsors local school and community sports teams, and all the employees participate in an Adopt-A-Soldier program, sending care packages to troops a few times a year. Often, soldiers will come visit the company when they return home.

Keeping employees healthy is one of the firm’s missions. Its annual onsite health fair offers flu shots, biometric screenings and a masseuse.

Find an overview of the selection process and links to other Best Places to Work here.

Best Places to Work 2016

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Detroit — For the third year, Plastics News has named the 15 best places to work in the plastics industry. This year, Chase Plastic Services Inc. of Clarkston, Mich., tops the list.

Profiles of the top 15 companies will be posted online all this week, although if you want an overview of the top companies, check out The Plastics Blog here.

We’ll also update this story with links to profiles as they’re posted.

BPTWHarrisburg, Pa.-based Best Companies Group independently manages the Best Places to Work project. BCG gathers information about company benefits and activities, and it solicits employee and management input via detailed surveys. The employer survey responses count for 25 percent of the grading, and the employee feedback accounts for 75 percent.

Best Companies Group is an independent research firm specializing in identifying and recognizing great places to work. BCG manages programs worldwide, including the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

PN’s annual ranking is open to plastics processors and suppliers with a facility in the United States or Canada that have a minimum of 15 employees, that have been in business for at least a year, and derive at least half of their sales from plastics.

The winners are honored each year at the Plastics News Executive Forum.

Chase Plastics named in publication’s ‘Best Places to Work’, expanding in Clarkston

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logo-largeClarkston-based Chase Plastics, a distributor of more than 6,400 specialty, engineering and commodity thermoplastics, announced it was named No. 1 in Plastics News’ “Best Places to Work” program.

“Being named the plastics industry’s best place to work atop a list of world-class organizations that continue to lead our industry — and global economy — is nothing short of humbling,” said Kevin Chase, president, Chase Plastics.

To accommodate its continued growth, Chase Plastics is finalizing expansion projects at its Clarkston headquarters, and at its central distribution center in South Bend, Indiana. In Clarkston, Chase is putting the finishing touches on a newly built $1.3 million customer-support headquarters that boasts a modern, open and collaborative workspace, and industry-leading customer service and supply chain management technology. Both builds are expected to be fully operational by June 2016. In South Bend, construction of the organization’s new $6 million, state-of-the-art central distribution center was recently completed.

Plastics News’ “Best Places to Work” 2016 program surveyed employees at top organizations in the plastics segment in the U.S. and Canada. This year’s winners were announced at the Plastics News Executive Forum in Naples, Florida.

“Since Chase Plastics was founded, our leadership team has remained dedicated to attracting and retaining world-class talent,” said Gustina Sell, human resources manager, Chase Plastics.

Chase Plastics is seeking motivated, experienced candidates to fill engineering, sales, administrative and logistics positions across North America. Visit for more information.

Chase Plastics is currently ranked No. 85 on the Crain’s Detroit Business “Private 200” list, and was recently named one of the publication’s “Cool Places to Work in Michigan.”

US resin distributors happy with Mexican investments

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Two U.S.-based resin distributors are pleased with early results from their new Mexican operations, while another is expanding its presence in the country.

In May, M. Holland Co. of Northbrook, Ill., formed a partnership with resin and chemical supplier Grupo Solquim of Mexico City. That partnership now operates as M. Holland Latinoamérica.

Osterman & Co. Inc. of Cheshire, Conn., followed that move in July by forming a joint venture company with Industrial Mafra SA de CV, a distributor of polyethylene resin based in Morelos, Mexico. The JV will operate as Osterman Plastics de Mexico S de RL.

Chase Plastics of Clarkston, Mich., also plans to begin warehousing in Querétraro by the middle of this year. The firm also plans to hire a business development manager in Mexico to handle sales growth.

“We’re very happy with Mexico,” M. Holland president Ed Holland said in a recent phone interview. “We’ve got a lot to do to make it from where we are to where we’re going, but we’re excited about it.”

M. Holland Latinoamérica has almost 500 customers and an infrastructure that includes commercial reach throughout Mexico. It’s supported by warehousing, bagging lines, rail terminals, pulverizing equipment and a fleet of bulk and packaged delivery trucks.

Grupo Solquim’s primary supplier is state-owned Pemex Petroquímica SA de CV. Pemex resins now may be available to Holland customers in the United States as well. M. Holland Latinoamérica will allow a good portion of M. Holland’s portfolio of materials from more than 20 materials firms to be sold throughout Latin America.

M. Holland last month further added to its Latin American holdings by purchasing a pair of resin distribution firms in Puerto Rico. Those businesses were Able International Corp. and Tril Export Corp. Both firms are based in San Juan and are owned by their founders, the Coifman family.

Able and Tril combined distribute about 50 million pounds of resin per year, with Able selling to customers in Puerto Rico and Tril supplying customers throughout the Caribbean and in Central and South America. Both firms distribute a variety of commodity and engineering resins.

The Osterman deal is expected to help both firms grow their presence in the Mexican market. Industrial Mafra was founded in Morelos, Mexico, in 1991. The firm supplies high density, low density and linear low density PE for injection molding, blow molding and rotational molding uses.

“This is an exciting move for us, because we hadn’t done much in Mexico before,” Osterman executive vice president Jeff Elsen said in a recent phone interview. “We needed to have an entity focused on Mexico to get into Mexico. We needed a partner with market knowledge.”

The formation of the JV is Osterman’s third move into Latin America in the last six years. In 2009, the firm founded its Latin American Polymers unit, followed by its 2013 purchase of resin distributor Quimtec LP of San Jose, Costa Rica.

Chase’s warehousing effort will be its first in Mexico, although the firm has been selling into that market for 15 years, regional manager Bill Guenveur said in a recent phone interview.

“More and more of our customers and suppliers have been asking us to be there, so it’s the next logical step for us,” he added. “You really need to be located in Mexico to sell into the interior of the country.”

Both Ed Holland and Elsen are longtime resin industry veterans who say the Mexican plastics processing market has greatly improved in recent years.

“You couldn’t envision the Mexico of 15 or 20 years ago,” he said. “Today, manufacturers have the best new plants and new equipment and new technology. The industry has really grown up in the last 20 to 30 years.”

“There’s been a lot of capital expansions and a lot of spending on new equipment,” Elsen added.

The Mexican processing market seems to have more family-held, private businesses than the U.S., Ed Holland said, which requires a slightly different approach. “When you meet companies in Mexico, you’re creating relationships, not just selling material,” he explained.

Channels to market for Mexican processors are very diverse, according to Elsen, with a large percent of the market — as much as 40 to 50 percent — buying their resin from distributors, he said.

Among Mexican end markets, Ed Holland said that the automotive sector is showing growth, with many companies now building infrastructure in Mexico. Osterman is targeting markets such as food packaging and pipe, Elsen said, and also is seeing growth in flexible packaging and injection molded pails and crates.

For Chase, automotive has been its largest Mexican sales market, followed by consumer electronics and appliances, according to controller Rich Smith. “Automotive is the driver,” he said. “There are a lot of long-term programs quoting out to 2018 or 2020.”

Sales trends for polyethylene and polypropylene resin also favored Mexico in 2015. U.S./Canadian exports of those materials to Mexico surged during the year, according to the American Chemistry Council. Exports of high density PE to Mexico posted the highest growth rate last year, increasing more than 19 percent to 1.58 billion pounds.

Exports of linear low density PE from the U.S. and Canada to Mexico were up almost 9 percent to 778.4 million pounds in 2015. U.S./Canadian exports of low density PE to Mexico were up 13 percent to 448.4 million pounds in the same comparison.

In the PP market, 2015 Mexican sales — from U.S., Canadian and Mexican suppliers — jumped almost 12 percent to 11.7 billion pounds.

Processors get proactive in hiring process

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Naples, Fla. — Tom Duffey says you can’t just put a help wanted ad in the local paper to find new talent — you have to go out and find potential employees since a lot of the good people are already employed.

Duffey, president of Plastic Components Inc., a custom injection molder in Germantown, Wis., and one of the companies named as Plastics News Best Places to Work for 2016, took part in a panel discussion on the manufacturing skills gap at the Plastics News Executive Forum in Naples.

Duffey said the hiring process has undergone a revolution.

“When we were small, I hired people I liked. And then I subsequently fired a lot of people I liked,” he quipped. Wendi Jay, PCI’s human resources manager, has formalized the process to try and determine how prospective hires fit within the company’s culture.

“They’re satisfied, we’re satisfied and they stay,” Duffey said.

Another panelist, Lindsay Hahn, president of Metro Plastics Technology Inc., said manufacturers have to blend younger and older employees, and “get those two generations to cooperate.”

Duffey said he likes working with millennials. He brought his son, Ryan, into the business about 10 years ago.

“From that point on we have brought in a lot of very talented young people that have improved the company in ways I could not even imagine,” he said. “You give them a challenge and you get out of their way, and they get it done.”

Shelley Fasano, vice president of operations at Dymotek Corp. of Ellington, Conn., said her company created a trainer position, allowing new employees to spend three days of training before working on the factory floor. They learn about Dymotek history and plastics 101. In general, she said, classroom training should last no more than an hour, followed by getting on the equipment.

Fasano said one big motivator is a simple one: Swag. Employees love to get company T-shirts, coffee mugs and other prizes, she said.

Chase Plastics Inc., a resin distributor in Clarkston, Mich., was No. 1 in this year’s Best Places to Work list, announced at the Executive Forum. President Kevin Chase said the company starts with high expectations for its people. “You have to have high expectations and great people,” he said.

What we learn from great work

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One of the highlights at our Executive Forum is the ceremony where we announce the 15 best places to work in the plastics industry. It’s an award we started three years ago, and it’s open to plastics processors and suppliers.

We have a feature on the “best places” companies on Page 15 of this issue, and we’ll profile all of the winners in our March 21 issue. But forum attendees were so excited about the winners that I decided to share a sneak peek at the companies this week.

It’s a cliché that every company says their employees are their most important asset. These companies appear to take that attitude to heart. I think many employers can learn quite a bit from these companies:

• Team 1 Plastics Inc., an injection molder in Albion, Mich., is the No. 15 company this year, and it’s now a three-time winner. This company is rightfully proud of its safety record — it’s surpassed 5,450 days without a lost-time accident.

Team 1 offers a quarterly bonus program, and also has what it calls a Cash Wheel that’s used at the end-of-the-month team meetings. Employees answer a question on a company-related topic, then spin for a cash reward of $5-$30.

• Our No. 14 company is another repeat winner, so Plastics News readers may be getting tired about hearing about the great corporate culture at Plastic Components Inc., a custom molder in Germantown, Wis.

But the strategy definitely is paying off. PCI has more than doubled in size in since 2009 with an historic growth rate of 22.4 percent over the last 5 fiscal years.

• Plastics compounder Techmer PM, our No. 13 company, actively recruits across 17 college campuses each year. The company has a gainshare program that encourages employees to minimize scrap and provide first time quality.

Techmer also offers recycling bonuses to encourage workers to use recycling stations to reduce waste that’s sent to landfill.

• Our No. 12 company, Bales Metal Surface Solutions of Downers Grove, Ill., has shop barbeques and pot lucks throughout the year. Sometimes they’re announced, but often they’re for no reason.

The company also sponsors a summer outing to Arlington Racetrack for employees and immediate family.

• Our No. 11 company, rotational molder Trilogy Plastics of Alliance, Ohio, offers what it calls President Awards, which are certificates to employees nominated by managers for great performance.

The company compiles weekly performance rankings. Friendly competition is encouraged by posting employees’ efficiency numbers. Top performers, called world-class champions, are recognized in quarterly meetings. They have lunch with managers and receive free sports tickets.

• This is the second year in a row on the best places list for our No. 10 company, purging compound supplier Asaclean-Sun Plastech Inc. of Parsippany, N.J. This company is very proud of employing workers with a diverse mix of ethnic and cultural groups.

We’ve been impressed in the past with Asaclean’s list of benefits, and this year it added a few new ones. Plus, it sponsors sponsor a holiday party every year with activities like attending a Broadway show.

• Our No. 9 company is another return winner, film equipment maker CMD Corp. of Appleton, Wis. This company has a generous paid time off program; all PTO is taken or paid out, but never lost. There’s no “use it or lose it” policy.

Last year CMD told us how it employs an aging workforce — the average age is 48 and the average tenure is nearly 11 years. Now, the company is creating new jobs that require less experience that are more appropriate for millennials.

• Our No. 8 company is used to winning these types of awards, but it’s new to our program. It’s custom injection molder Dymotek Corp. of Ellington, Conn.

Dymotek was profiled in our Feb. 22 issue, because it was also a finalist for our Processor of the Year award, and the winner of our PN Excellence award for employee relations.

One tidbit that was left out of that profile — during the summer, workers can pick up free vegetables from the company owners’ garden, which is on the headquarters factory’s premises.

• The owners at our No. 7 company want their firm to be a place employees want to come to every day — not just a job. The company is distributor ePlastics, a Ridout Plastics Co. based in San Diego.

The firm offers flexible personal time off, and company-wide profit-sharing.

• Our No. 6 company, Industrial Molds Inc. of Rockford., Ill., got high marks from employees for trusting in their abilities and judgment, and believing in a balance between work and personal life.

Industrial Molds also gives monetary support to the Rockford Rescue Mission and the Wounded Warriors Project.

• The No. 5 company is International Plastics, a plastics distributor and fabricator based in Greenville, S.C. The company supports approximately 100 different organizations with cash and or in-kind donations.

And it doesn’t stop with money and time. International Plastics’ quarterly blood drives have generated more than 300 units of blood in the past four years.

• When I introduced our No. 4 company, I told the crowd that I expected them to say “wow” when they heard my description. I wasn’t disappointed.

Metro Plastics Technologies, an injection molder and toolmaker based in Noblesville, Ind., offers what it calls a 30/40 work program. The regular shift is 30 hours per week, and if workers are on time and not absent during the week, they receive a 10-hour bonus.

The company operates 24 hours, with a unique schedule of four 6-hour shifts each day.

• Our No. 3 company, Dallas-based distributor and fabricator Kaston Fixtures & Design Group LLC, offers quarterly incentive bonuses for the best new idea. The company also offers free or discounted tickets to local family entertainment or sporting events.

Kaston says it has a culture where all employees are treated fairly and with respect, with an open atmosphere for suggestions/brainstorming/improvement ideas.

• Several employees at our No. 2 company — mold maker Precise Mold & Plate of Columbus, Ind. — are active participants in local, statewide or national non-profit enterprises. The roles range from front-line volunteers to board trustees.

The company has a focus on worker health, with measured walking paths adjacent to the parking lot, and healthy snacks, fruit juices and water stocked in vending machines, at discount prices.

• Finally, our No. 1 company, Chase Plastic Services, a resin distributor and fabricator based in Clarkston, Mich., doesn’t have onsite workout facilities, but it does pay half of the cost of employee memberships at a local gym. It offers fun activities like pumpkin carving, chili cookoff and holiday cubicle decorating contests.

Chase also makes annual $5,000 contribution to Habitat for Humanity, and many workers contribute time to the charity.

Attendees at the forum got an opportunity to network with these companies, which is a big reason for getting out of the office and meeting people in person. I hope to see more processors there next year — and if you think your company is a great place to work, watch later this year for a chance to enter the 2017 competition.

Chase Plastics hires Chris Baker Account Manager

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Chris BakerPlease join Chase Plastics in welcoming Chris Baker to our sales team serving Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Sonora, Mexico. Chris is based in Mesa, Arizona, and has a wide range of field expertise in all aspects of plastics molding, specifically in the medical market.

“I’ve known Chris for four years, working closely with him as one of our customers. I’m very excited to have Chris as our newest member of the West Coast team. He is a true sales professional,” said Mike Nielsen, regional sales manager. “I’m confident that his broad experience and technical background on the injection-molding side of the business is going to allow him to be a valuable resource to our existing and potential new customers.”

Chris is a native of Arizona, having spent the last 28 years in the Phoenix area. He brings with him 25 years of plastics experience in tooling, processing and engineering of new and existing projects.

“Chase Plastics is known throughout the industry as a company with great core values and one that goes above and beyond to deliver customer satisfaction,” said Chris Baker. “I look forward to joining the team/family and representing the over 6,400 varieties of specialty, engineering and commodity thermoplastics we have to offer our customers. I am committed to and passionate about helping our customers troubleshoot projects to find a product match that is best for their needs and improves their bottom line.”

Chris Baker

Account Manager

mobile 480.229.1961
fax 248.620.7670
orders 800.232.4273