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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

Chase Plastics in Credit Today

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CreditToday_250x75_LogoHow do you justify a robust travel budget? Can’t you do the same thing with conference calls or Skype? Not really. As this credit management veteran shows there’s nothing quite like personal visits for solving problems with struggling customers and building volume with stronger ones.

For her first 12 years heading up the Chase Plastic Services’ credit operations Debbie Sexton was your typical, office-bound credit manager. But in 2012, when Chase’s management decided the company could benefit from more credit-customer contacts, she was raring to go. And, by 2014, she was making 50 customer visits a year all across the country.

“Initially, travel was targeted at struggling customers,” she says. “We figured face-to-face meetings would help and they certainly did. Then I decided that, since I was out there, I might as well visit other stronger accounts as well”.

“I have a Customer Visit Form I fill out before I visit the customer, listing their recent payment history, ADP, Limit, Terms, etc.,” she continues. “Then there’s a list of questions I need to ask the customer. This form keeps me on task and ensures I get the most out of the meeting. After the meeting I complete the form by adding who I met with, their titles, personal information (children/hobbies) and the goals we developed during the meeting.

“I’ve been able to help some accounts grow with us. As well as enabling me to get to know people, I get to see their facilities and equipment. That helps you know what questions to ask, and your interest wins their appreciation.”

Another major advantage of the visits is that she often gets to see customers’ financials. “They’re almost all private companies so they’re very leery about sharing financials,” she points out. “With the financials, I can dig in further so that I’m more comfortable giving them a higher credit line or better terms. That’s helped accelerate some customers’ growth rates.”

One account she had visited several times was slow pay but not a worry. “But it was always nice to go in and talk with them and continue to build the relationship,” she says. “Then last year they developed cash-flow issues and extended their terms with us. Because of our relationship I was able to bypass the AP person and talk directly with the owner. We got a strong payment plan in place, and I could see that he was very committed to it. He stuck to the plan, got caught up and now they’re doing great”.

Was AP miffed that she had gone around them? “Not at all.” she says. “They were relieved that they didn’t have to be in the middle anymore.”

She has a dedicated credit specialist assigned to monitor certain accounts. When the specialist feels that Sexton should get involved–or when she gets concerned­-she calls someone higher up to see what is going on. If she’s met them it’s easier to make that phone call.

Sometimes when customers start running late, it’s because they’ve produced too much inventory or their customers have pushed back their PO shipment dates. This causes our customer to experience some cash flow issues. And some customers may experience a general slowdown in the field, which again can cause cash flow issues.

October tends to be a slow period in certain industries, so she likes to contact customers at that time to see how they’re doing. When they admit that they “might have a bit of a cash flow problem”, she’ll consider working out a payment plan.

Normally she won’t allow open orders to go out without prepayment in these situations. But if she’s gotten to know the customer she may be flexible. “If they’re current on their payment plan I’d release product as long as they don’t go crazy,” she says. “In these cases they don’t need much material because they’re already sitting on inventory.”

Recently there was a high balance with one of their larger customers and there were indications they were struggling. “Management agreed that I should get out there and meet some of the principals so that I could start working with them immediately trying to figure out how to get their AR balance down,” she says.

In this case there were three owners and they recently hired a controller. She had already met one of the owners, and now she met with the other two and the controller.

“They were great people in a bad situation,” she says. “We agreed to hold weekly conference calls, which we did for three months. We talked about payments and what kind of materials they would need, playing it super close and safe until, unfortunately, they had to close their doors. But we had been able to reduce the balance down significantly so that our bad debt write-off was minimal.

“We thought that was a win, even though we did lose some money. We felt that working with them and helping out was the right thing to do.”

DSO has not changed much in the three years since she began travelling (“We’re always on target,” she says.). But bad debts have dropped substantially, something she attributes not so much to tougher credit standards as to the relationships she had developed with customers.

“I’m lucky to have a strong support team in upper management,” she says. “They trust my decision making. It has a lot to do with why they send me out on the road to build rapport with owners.” I also have a strong credit team who backs me up when I’m on the road. I couldn’t travel without my team’s outstanding credit skills or professionalism.

Debbie Sexton

Credit Manager

Office 248-620-2120 x 305

Chase Plastics hires Ryan Williamson as Sales Associate

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williamson-postsPlease join Chase Plastics in welcoming Ryan Williamson to our sales team serving North Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Ryan started his career with Chase Plastics as a sales intern at our corporate headquarters in Clarkston, Michigan, gaining extensive knowledge by working in cross-functional departments such as customer service, sales, credit and logistics.

“This is a strategic market for Chase Plastics and Ryan is up to the challenge of bringing unmatched customer service and cost-effective solutions to our customers in the Southwest,” said Bill Guenveur, regional sales manager. “Ryan brings energy and enthusiasm to his new role. This, coupled with his thermoplastic and business development knowledge, will ensure that our customers receive the high level of customer service Chase is known for.”

Ryan is originally from Saginaw, Michigan, and currently lives in Dallas, Texas. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Central Michigan University, where he majored in political science while minoring in professional sales and marketing.

“I am excited about the opportunity to get to know and work with our customers in the Southwest as I join a team of professionals at Chase who have guided processors to improved profit margins for more than 20 years,” said Ryan Williamson. “I am committed to helping our customers anticipate and address evolving business demands using my knowledge of Chase’s unmatched product line of quality, cost-effective material solutions that will improve their bottom line and elevate them above the competition.”

Ryan Williamson

Sales Associate

mobile 214.587.6744
fax 248.620.4028
orders 800.232.4273

Chase Plastics hires Chris Sypitkowski as Sales Associate

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Syp-postsPlease join Chase Plastics in welcoming Chris Sypitkowski to our sales team serving our customers in Illinois and Northern Indiana. Chris started his career with Chase Plastics as a sales intern at our corporate headquarters in Clarkston, Michigan, gaining extensive knowledge by working in cross-functional departments such as customer service, sales, credit and logistics.

“We are excited and fortunate to have Chris on our Chase Plastics team,” said Eric Walters, regional sales manager. “Chris’ education and technical skills will be integral in providing our valued customers with the outrageous service and dedication that we pride ourselves on.”

Chris is a native of Huntington Woods, Michigan, and currently resides in Aurora, Illinois. He holds an associate’s degree in polymer science and a bachelor’s degree in plastics engineering technology from Ferris State University. Chris is eager to use his technical expertise to guide processors to improved manufacturing productivity and profitability.

“I am very blessed and excited to be part of the Chase Plastics team,” said Chris. “Our core value of outrageous customer service is something I cannot wait to deliver to our customers to help them improve their profit margin and efficiency.”

Chris Sypitkowski

Sales Associate

mobile 773.420.6894
fax 248.620.4050
orders 800.232.4273

Solvay Names Chase Plastics as Newest Distributor of High-Performance Amodel® PPA Resins

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Solvay Specialty Polymers, a leading global supplier of high-performance polymers, announced today that it has appointed Chase Plastics, a stocking distributor of specialty, engineering and commodity thermoplastics, as its newest U.S. distributor of Amodel® polyphthalamide (PPA) resin. Chase Plastic’s comprehensive North American sales coverage and more than 2,500 buying accounts will expand market access and technical support for Amodel® PPA customers. The appointment went into effect on Oct. 1.

“Solvay Specialty Polymers is pleased to have Chase as part of our team and we look forward to working with them to meet rising demand for our Amodel® PPA in high-growth end-markets,” said Tom Wood, senior vice president and head of Crystalline Products for Solvay Specialty Polymers. “We welcome Chase who, along with Nexeo Solutions, will further strengthen our ability to support the design goals and competitive growth of our customers in North America.”

The addition of Chase Plastics will not affect Solvay Specialty Polymers’ order fulfillment policies. Solvay will continue to accept and fill direct orders that meet the company’s established minimum order quantities. Small lot orders of Amodel® PPA will be available through Chase Plastics and Nexeo Solutions. Both companies will continue to distribute Solvay’s Ryton® PPS products, as they have for many years.

Solvay’s Amodel® PPA product portfolio contains well over 100 different grades of the semi-crystalline thermoplastic, which offers excellent mechanical properties, outstanding dimensional stability, exceptional elevated thermal performance and good processability. Solvay was the first company to commercialize PPA and it developed its Amodel® PPA family to meet stringent application demands in wide range of industries, including automotive, transportation, industrial equipment, water handling, telecommunications, electrical/electronics, coatings, composites, food service applications and consumer goods.