Building a Culture of Performance A plastic injection-molding company in Illinois prides itself on innovative thinking in employee performance. BY PEYTON “CHIP” OWEN
Plastics is a plastic injection-molding manu facturer located in Burlington, IL, a rural community roughly 55 miles northwest of Chicago. This bucolic, agricultural setting is not likely to be the kind of place that people envision when they imagine disruptive thinking in business. But since its founding in 1972, this privately owned manufacturer has consistently looked for new ways to power up both organizational and individual performance, while hoping to create a renaissance in American manufacturing.
I know. I bought the company in 2013 with a goal to make manufacturing cool again. With a degree in engineering, which somehow detoured into a 30-year career in commercial real estate sales, service, and investing, I wanted an opportunity to sink my teeth into something tangible—to finally make things. Having spent the last six years of my career in New York City, I had seen too many of the best minds go to Wall Street, not to the heartland of manufacturing. What if we could produce technology through manufacturing; make things
differently, smarter, and faster in the 21st century? Transitioning to manufacturing, while incorporating the best practices of business, gave me an opportunity to align my work with some of my core beliefs. I believe that for America to be strong, it has to make things. Manufacturing wages pay better than average and can provide an opportunity to build wealth through profit sharing, ownership, and retirement benefits. My first job in sales was at a heavy construction equipment manufacturer. I saw how manufacturing builds families AMA QUARTERLY I SUMMER 2016 I 35
Journal of The American Management Association