What we learn from great work

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.