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Plastics Business 2019 Issue 1

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

Building a Winning Team Maximizing Business Value Partnering with Education Improving Social Media Marketing

Official Publication of Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors


2019 Issue 1




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focus Strategic Steps to Maximize Business Value for Plastics Processors by Joellen Sorenson, director, Stout education Productive Partnerships: What Education and Industry Need to Prosper by Dianna Brodine, managing editor, Plastics Business strategies Integrating In-Mold Decorating into Injection Molding Workflow by John Berg, director of marketing, Sussex IM solutions Intralox Builds a Winning Team by Lara Copeland, contributing editor, Plastics Business benchmarking Steady Not Stagnant: Strong Performance Continues in 2019 by Ashley Burleson, membership and analytics director, MAPP outlook Prepare for Supply Chain Pressures by Liz Stevens, contributing writer, Plastics Business view from 30 Communicating Ideas for Improvement at Thogus by Lara Copeland, contributing editor, Plastics Business

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view from 30


36 39 43 48 52

activism Advocacy for Plastics in Legislation by Liz Stevens, contributing writer, Plastics Business economic corner Plastics Industry Swings from Free Trade to No Trade by Chris Kuehl, managing director, Armada Corporate Intelligence industry Five Manufacturing Trends to Watch in 2019 by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers marketing Six Suggestions to Improve Social Media Marketing Efforts for B2B Businesses by Brenda Eubank, Team 1 Plastics


booklist Inspiration from the Sports World by Dianna Brodine, managing editor, Plastics Business


departments viewpoint.....................................6

news.......................................... 50

association................................. 16

supplier directory...................... 54

Plastics Business

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

Published by:

Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors, Inc. (MAPP) 7321 Shadeland Station Way, Suite 285 Indianapolis, IN 46256 phone 317.913.2440 • fax 317.913.2445 www.mappinc.com MAPP Board of Directors President Norm Forest, Dymotek Molding Technologies Vice President Tim Capps, Par 4 Plastics Inc. Treasurer Ryan Richey, Precision Plastics, Inc. Secretary and Counsel Alan Rothenbuecher, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP

MAPP Board Members Mike Benson, Stout Steve Bieszczat, IQMS Brendan Cahill, PTG Silicones Craig Carrel, Team 1 Plastics, Inc. Jim Eberle, MXL Industries Glen Fish, Revere Plastics Systems LLC Chris Gedwed, Cosmetic Specialties International Jim Kepler, Intertech Plastics Jim Krause, Microplastics, Inc. Tom Nagler, Natech Plastics, Inc. Samir Patel, Midwest Molding Inc. Derrill Rice, Plastic Components, Inc. Missy Rogers, Noble Plastics, Inc. Stacy Shelly, AMCO Polymers Chuck Sholtis, Plastic Molding Technology, Inc. Tom Tredway, Erie Molded Plastics, Inc.

Peterson Publications, Inc. 2150 SW Westport Dr., Suite 101 Topeka, KS 66614 phone 785.271.5801 www.plasticsbusinessmag.com

Editor in Chief Jeff Peterson

Advertising/Sales Janet Dunnichay

Managing Editor Dianna Brodine

Contributing Editors Lara Copeland Nancy Cates

Art Director Becky Arensdorf Graphic Designer Kelly Adams

Circulation Manager Brenda Schell

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 5


You have 30 seconds... On your mark, get set, go! It was a Friday afternoon in the middle of June, and I was exercising at Orange Theory Fitness. The classes are guided by a coach who provides instructions to attendees engaged in circuit training – rowing, treadmill running and dumbbell weight exercises – that lasts an average of 55 excruciating minutes. Early in my membership, I set a personal rowing goal of 200 meters in less than 30 seconds which, for a novice rower, was simply a stretch goal. On this day in June, the class was nearly finished but I had one more rowing block to complete. I was exhausted – like, “can barely lift my arms” exhausted. The instructor gave us guidelines for the last row of the day and, for some unknown reason, he looked me dead in the eye and took control. He set my rowing meter and said, “Troy, you have 30 seconds to row 200 meters.” This took me by totally by surprise because I never shared my personal goal with him. I immediately began to complain: “Coach Luke, I can’t do that. I’m exhausted. I just–” but I was cut off when he began a thunderous countdown, “3, 2, 1, go!” At that, I closed my eyes, gritted my teeth and began to pull. By the 18-second mark, the pain in my legs was unbearable, my arms were numb and I was gasping for air. I opened my eyes when Luke took a position on top of my rowing machine and started yelling at me. “C’mon Troy, you can do this,” he said. “You’re nearly there. Pull! Pull harder! Go faster!” The last 12 seconds seemed like an eternity, but I didn’t make it to the 30-second mark. I didn’t get there because I didn’t need to. I not only rowed my 200 meters in less than 30 seconds, but I did it at a wattage nearly 60% greater than my past wattage achievements. At this point, I know some of you are saying, “Great story, Troy. So what?” I achieved something that, in that moment of exhaustion and frustration, I truly believed I was incapable of achieving. I achieved my goal because a 26-year-old coach named Luke decided to pick me out of the crowd and inspire me to do better. He chose to motivate me to give more of an effort for the last 30 seconds of my workout. I’ve told this story to audiences around the country because it has had such an impact on my life and on my perspective on

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leadership. You see, there are people that each of you encounter daily who are just like me. They move silently around your company and do their jobs. They have goals, they have dreams and they have aspirations. But, more importantly, they have doubts and lack the self-confidence to go after what they want. Each of you, whether in a formal leadership role or not, can be more like Luke. Each of you can provide a little more attention to the people you work with. You can dig a little deeper to learn about your employees’ dreams and work to eradicate disbeliefs through motivational encouragement, positive praise for jobs well done and outward displays of confidence in their abilities. Those of you who are reading this section of Plastics Business may know that I talk a lot about leadership and the fact that good leaders who positively impact their employees run more profitable companies. I have a great deal of data to support that statement, but it doesn’t take much to make my point either. Recently, Plastics News announced the finalists in its best places to work competition and nearly all companies were members of MAPP. These companies, which I know well, are market leaders in what they do. The commonality among them is that their leadership teams focus aggressively on developing strong, caring relationships with their people. They work daily to inspire, to motivate and to develop self-confidence. I see the “Luke-style” of energy and enthusiasm in their teams. I want you to realize that each of us has the ability to positively impact people. We just need to become more self-aware and apply more energy to touching people. And, before you start thinking you can’t do it, you have “3… 2… 1!” to get started.

Executive Director, MAPP

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Strategic Steps to Maximize Business Value for Plastics Processors by Joellen Sorenson, director, Stout


hat makes one company more valuable than another? A panel of plastics business owners/operators weighed in on this important question during the 2018 MAPP Benchmarking & Best Practices Conference. While demand for plastics continues to surge, the industry’s success also may be its Achilles’ heel. The industry currently has very low barriers to entry and shares many characteristics with the commodities industry. As a result, plastics processors and manufacturers that experience the most success are market leaders that have carefully plotted their course. This results in unique attributes, such as a specific product, process or market niche. But, how can other companies replicate this success?

A panel discussion during the 2018 Benchmarking & Best Practices Conference dissected strategies for maximizing business value. Photo courtesy of Creative Technology Corp.

Mike Benson, managing director in Stout’s Investment Banking group, returned to this year’s MAPP Benchmarking Conference to moderate another dynamic conversation among a panel of plastics business executives and advisers. The discussion focused on the key drivers of business value, the metrics that are vital for understanding business performance and the strategies the executives employed to stay laser-focused on their end goals. Benson was joined by Glen Fish, CEO, Revere Plastics Systems, LLC; Mike Walter, president, Met2Plastic; and Josef Keglewitsch, partner, Ice Miller. “To begin each day with the end in mind means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen.” – Stephen Covey Benson began the conversation with a quick overview of the various valuation methods typically used to value a business, homing in specifically on discounted cash flow (DCF) as the

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desired backdrop for the discussion. “DCF is essentially the value of the future stream of free cash flow that a business is deemed capable of generating, along with the assets in place to generate those cash flows,” he said. Benson then asked CEOs Glen Fish and Mike Walter what steps they’ve taken over time to build value within their companies and to ensure health, competitiveness and longevity. “The true outcome of the value of a business is what it transacts for when it’s sold.” – Benson Fish joined Revere in 2014, when the company was underperforming. A lender had taken an equity position: cash flow wasn’t there, the company had excess inventory and few investments were being made. “My first step was to reel in inventory,” he explained. “We implemented a new process that took us from 40 to 29 days and were able to free up cash. Then

we looked to upgrade our management team, because ultimately we knew the bank did not want to own the business.” Fish went on to describe customer concentration as one of his company’s biggest detractors, with a majority of revenue being tied to a single account: “We lacked a strategy to diversify our customer base, so we added a business development function, brought in a sales team and started to have success.” From there, Fish determined where the company wanted to compete, joined relevant trade associations and worked with his team to create their first strategic five-year plan. “Our plan then became stronger each year, and our operations strategy began to align with our sales strategy,” he explained. “I was determined to demonstrate a growth trajectory.” Walter’s family sold their business earlier than he had thought they would, but he had been preparing for an eventual sale for several years. “What made us most attractive to buyers was our early decision to focus on the markets we wanted to serve and then develop a plan to grow into those markets,” he explained. Walter and his team chose two markets – aerospace and medical – and then worked to gain a footprint and recognition as players in those markets. “We chose these two industries because we saw there would be long-term growth potential, and they also were niche enough where the barriers to entry were higher,” he said. At same time, Walter worked on building bench steps within the organization and developing a strong management team. The third area of focus was putting infrastructure in place (investing in equipment) for long-term success. Keglewitsch added that owners and executives should start looking at their businesses through the eyes of a buyer and to be careful not to ignore housekeeping items. “As an attorney, I think about reducing risk and protecting assets – registering IP when you have it, minimizing risks within your customer base and putting careful thought into contractual relationships,” he said. He advised, when appropriate, to have long-term contracts in place. “Lock up your critical employees with non-competes, employment contracts and transaction bonuses,” he said. “Generally, it’s a very small – but critical – group of people who help a transaction go through, and it’s important to acknowledge them.” Benson inquired whether the panelists had a deliberate plan that was followed, and how their respective strategies were developed. Fish described developing a vision statement that encompassed who the company wanted to be and which end markets the company wanted to serve – and then building that into the Revere sales budget. The management team looked opportunistically at what business they wanted to win. Then, his team looked at

Figure 1. Stout Value Driver Quadrant

what criteria were required to achieve operational excellence and what type of investment in equipment was necessary, which then was tied back to the financials. His team used their budget and inventory metrics to determine their daily position. Walter started with a five-year plan for where the company wanted to be and then revisited that plan each year. “Our plan included numbers, goals, vision, size, markets and what we wanted to be for our employees and customers,” he explained. “We then built the financials around that.” He cited the use of several metrics, including equipment efficiency and value added per hour, noting these as the types of metrics that managers on the floor can relate to and that drive to the same goal. Building on the previous question, Benson asked about the ground-level, day-to-day tasks the panelists chose to focus on that contributed to business value. Fish described routine visual evaluation of critical spots on the production floor – productivity targets for various zones that help to meet the company’s business objectives. “We also do a weekly financial forecast review that helps tremendously to minimize surprises,” he said. “We have separate reviews for financial targets and for our progress toward more strategic initiatives, like lean improvements and capital expenditures.” He described monthly business reviews with the senior leadership team in which they evaluated all four of their facilities for performance, new sales wins and customer feedback, further noting that the company is extremely transparent. page 10 u

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Walter talked about daily meetings with primary production staff to review the previous day’s results and what could be learned from them. He also described meetings held at the beginning of each week to review performance and discuss key initiatives for moving forward. “We don’t just look at the past but also look at what we’re doing moving forward,” Walter said. “It’s a great way to find out if a manager needs support, and it gives them the opportunity to solicit their peers. We implemented the weekly meeting a year ago, and it’s been effective at reducing barriers and enabling information flow across teams.” He said that once per quarter, a meeting is held with the entire production tooling team to gauge performance and to provide the team with a senior management perspective on the business. He was sure to add that they also make time to celebrate key milestones. Continuing the operations-focused discussion, Benson asked Fish and Walter about what metrics they track on their reporting dashboards.

Fish quickly reeled off his daily operating metrics consisting of sales, scrap, inventory and sales pipeline – how many quotes are in the system and how long they’ve been in there. “Our big focus is diversification, so we watch it very closely,” he said. “Full pipeline, inventory and cash at the end of the month.” Walter first cited the usual suspects of sales and profits but then mentioned monitoring incoming orders and backlog to help the company navigate any near-term changes that may be needed. “Looking at an income statement is great, but it’s in the past,” he explained. “Looking at incoming sales gives you time to react. And, it’s not just incoming POs – we also look for trends.” When it comes to buying a business, a buyer is going to place a value on your business based on current EBITDA. However, the multiple on that EBITDA is going to be based on the perceived future health of your business. – Benson Benson acknowledged that the need to go to China had ebbed and flowed, but what had been less discussed was the movement into Mexico. He asked the panelists which parts of the world were becoming more or less relevant to their businesses. Fish explained, “On lower tonnage items that package and ship well, we run into Asian competition. We just try to steer clear of these types of things and focus on larger tonnage value add, which has helped differentiate us. Certain customers want to see presence in Mexico, especially in automotive.” Walter also mentioned the southern migration of US manufacturing facilities. “We’ve seen a lot of our customers move operations from the US to Mexico,” he said. “So far, we’ve been able to continue to supply them from facilities outside of Chicago.” Benson closed the discussion with reference to the Stout Value Driver Quadrant (Figure 1): “It’s certainly been our experience in working with plastics processors that those who are able to focus on the ‘high-impact, high-control’ aspects of the business, while strategically navigating the ‘high-impact, low-control’ factors, are those that will trade for higher values, all else being equal. The key is to recognize what those factors are in your business and begin to pursue a short-, medium- and long-term plan to help you reach your goals.” n More information: 773.750.7150 or www.stoutadvisory.com

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transforming your employees into problem solvers

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Activity-driven instruction increases the ability to troubleshoot problems and develop standardized processes

Provide knowledge and skills to make data driven decisions, which benefits both the employee and employer

Design for manufacturability offers solutions to keep bad part and mold designs from getting into production

Decreased cycle times, scrap reduction, risk management, and up-front analysis methods create higher quality parts and molds



Productive Partnerships: What Education and Industry Need to Prosper by Dianna Brodine, managing editor, Plastics Business


he skilled labor crisis is the top issue facing manufacturing companies today, and the solution may lie within the school system, where a captive audience of young adults is making decisions about prospective careers. But, how does a manufacturing company penetrate the educational system to create a funnel of future employees? What shift is required at the curriculum level to accommodate preparation for careers in technical fields? The yardstick that marked college attendance as the only measure of postsecondary success is breaking. States are recognizing the critical need for a pipeline of employees in the trades, and educational metrics are changing to redefine success for students.

College and career readiness in Kansas

The Kansas State Department of Education has published its definition of success for students: A successful Kansas high school graduate has the academic preparation, cognitive preparation, technical skills, employability skills and civic engagement to be successful in postsecondary education, in the attainment of an industry-recognized certification or in the workforce, without the need for remediation. “For a long time, high schools were not preparing kids for success at a postsecondary level,” explained Mike Mathes, former superintendent of the Seaman School District in Topeka, Kansas (total enrollment: 3,867 and one of four school districts in the city of Topeka), and current superintendent of North Lyon County School District (total enrollment: 430 and providing educational services to six rural communities). “Now, we are focused on getting kids prepared to be adults. Kansas is ahead of the curve in understanding that schools need to be helping students with college and career readiness.” To assist students in achieving those outcomes, a recent statewide initiative is providing incentives for those interested in pursuing Career Technical Education (CTE) while still in high school. According to the Kansas CTE website: For several decades, Career and Technical Education (CTE) has been evolving. No longer offering only

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A student works to build goal posts for the new Eleva-Strum practice football field. Photo courtesy of the Cardinal Manufacturing Facebook page.

traditional vocational education, CTE now offers a diverse range of subjects and career fields, including a number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. In addition, the distinction between CTE and academic programs is slowly disintegrating … CTE plays a powerful role in preventing students from dropping out and provides a variety of opportunities for postsecondary success and employment, including pathways to a bachelor’s degree. The Kansas CTE program offers 16 pathways, including Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; Architecture and Construction; Health Sciences; Manufacturing; and Transportation, Distribution and Logistics. State-sponsored funding is available to cover the cost of tuition for high school students enrolled in a Career Technical Education course at a community or technical college. The funding also helps school districts pay for the costs of transporting those students to and from the community or technical college. “This type of education requires a change in mindset,” said Mathes. “Schools have to change, because right now school districts expect kids to be in attendance. Parents will have to accept that a kid may not be in a school building all day long. Curriculum also becomes a challenge, because we still are

required to teach subjects like English, math and science. It’s not an easy logistical thing to figure out.” Easing the way is a state department of education that has shifted its metrics and its definition of success. Postsecondary attendance and completion is one of the five outcomes set forth by the state for measuring progress toward achieving its vision for education, and the data include two-year, four-year, graduate, trade and vocational schooling. “To be accredited, we are following kids for two years after graduation, and the schools are scored based on the percentage of our kids who are successful,” Mathes explained. By including trade and vocational schools in its definition of success, the state has paved the way for schools to include that programming within the educational day, although barriers still exist. Mathes continued, “To succeed in developing curriculum that gets kids ready for college and careers after high school, we have to keep asking ourselves ‘What is school supposed to look like?’ It’s not as easy as it sounds.”

Apprenticeship initiatives in North Carolina

In North Carolina, apprenticeships are providing a way for manufacturing firms to reach local high school students. At Superior Tooling, Inc. a Wake Forest, North Carolina, company specializing in plastic injection molds, President Robbie Earnhardt has eight apprentices on staff – an impressive number for a company with a total employee count of 28. “We’ve got a very successful apprenticeship program, and the state is helping us with that by being very proactive on getting into the schools,” said Earnhardt. North Carolina has several programs aimed at increasing access to technical education. The North Carolina Tuition Assistance Program offers help to active members of the Army and Air National Guard. Apprenticeship 2000 is a four-year technical training program created in 1995 to develop high school juniors and seniors who are interested in fields such as tool and die making, mold making and machining. And, in the Greensboro area, the Guilford Apprenticeship Partners (GAP) works to bridge the gap between high school graduates and career opportunities in advanced manufacturing and service fields. Still, Earnhardt puts in a significant amount of personal effort to bring apprentices into his facility. “It starts with the teachers,” he said. “We have them into the facility for a luncheon right after school starts and explain the program. Then, they help us locate the kids within the schools who they think qualify for these programs and who have shown an interest in the trades we’re offering. We want to have a targeted audience, rather than speaking to the entire school.”

To begin their apprenticeships, students work half a day at Superior Tooling and spend half a day in the school building during their senior year. “The schools have been working with us to get the classes in line so the students can accomplish that,” said Earnhardt. Upon graduation from high school, the apprentices work for four days a week and attend an area technical college one day a week, which leads to an associate degree within three years. Earnhardt said the bureaucracy made the scheduling difficult. “School has to change,” he explained. “The culture has to change – the culture of our schools and our parents. They have to understand there are other opportunities out there, and that apprenticeships today can be a true educational experience that combines learning a trade and earning a degree. By working with the counselors and teachers, we’re reaching the right student audience. It’s a matter of educating the educators!” By participating in parent/teacher nights, career fairs and Saturday morning orientations with students and parents, Earnhardt is continually explaining not just the Superior Tooling program, but all the programs that are offered. “It’s a continuous battle to change the culture, because they don’t understand what success the trades can offer,” he said.

Success in Wisconsin at Cardinal Manufacturing

One of the most recognizable examples of the success that can follow when industry and education partner is seen in Cardinal Manufacturing, located within Eleva-Strum High School in Strum, Wisconsin. Cardinal Manufacturing is a school-based, student-run manufacturing business. Students in the program work with local businesses and individuals on manufacturing tasks that can range from a simple repair job to welding, woodworking and custom-designed and -machined parts. The program has garnered so much attention across the United States that the school offers one-day workshops for other education and industry partners that want to replicate its success. Attendees of these sessions learn how Cardinal Manufacturing got its start, meet the student employees and business partners, and hear from administration about their concerns and day-today management issues. “Schools from around the country come in to see what we’re doing, spending an entire day here so they can implement it in their own communities,” said Craig Cegielski, instructor for the Cardinal Manufacturing program. The Cardinal Manufacturing program is an integrated part of the school day. “We have an eight-period day,” Cegielski page 14 u

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explained, “and the 7th and 8th period of the day are Cardinal Manufacturing hours. We run the program from the high school shop area.”

“That’s what we do with the workshops we hold – we explain what we do and show them the model we have designed to start a student-run business.”

Students have to apply for acceptance into the Cardinal Manufacturing program prior to their senior year after taking certain prerequisite classes. By the time they reach their final year of high school, most of their core graduation requirements have been met, which makes it easier to accommodate Cardinal Manufacturing within their schedules.

By creating a marketable, sellable product, the program brings in revenue, which is necessary in these times of tightened school funding. “Some schools simply do not have the funding,” he explained. “We have 160 students in the high school, so resources are limited. Cardinal Manufacturing brings in revenue to help us afford tooling, equipment and materials.”

“By building the program here and integrating it into the school day, we avoid transportation issues, and there are no conflicts with sports after school,” he explained.

While Cardinal Manufacturing teaches employable skills in the manufacturing, machining and welding trades, Cegielski said the benefits reach much further. “In so many classes, we tell kids exactly what to do and what to study in order to get the grade. Here, we give them a task and a timeline. From there, the students have to call, design CAD files, fabricate the product and market it to potential consumers. Throughout this entire process, we model and critique their soft skills – sending professional emails, meeting deadlines, working together with multiple students and problem solving. As a high school teacher, that’s the single largest benefit of this program. We can make a big difference in students’ confidence and communication skills, and that carries with them wherever they find employment after high school.” n

Because the program is run from the high school shop, the equipment is utilized to build skills for students as they progress from 8th grade through 12th. “That makes our model easy to replicate,” said Cegielski. “Most schools have the space, the teacher and basic equipment, but there isn’t a budget for tooling and materials. This utilizes what schools already have and brings it to another level by bringing in industry partners.” “You’ve got to make a plan,” he continued. “This isn’t something you start overnight. If schools are running a high-level technical education program and already have a pipeline of classes in place – such as Metalworking 1, 2 and 3 – with a pipeline of students already interested, then it’s easy. You add a class called “Student-Run Business” and start marketing. But, some schools only have an older shop area and one teacher, so you have to figure out where you’re at.” Cegielski said the first step is to sit down with the key players – the teacher, the principal, the school board – and to reach into the community to find industry partners. Then, create a plan.

More information about the Cardinal Manufacturing model: www.cardinalmanufacturing.org. The site contains resources, including links to its Facebook page, information about upcoming workshops and the annual open house, and links to YouTube videos that provide an inside look into the program.

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MAPP Announces All 2019 Plant Tours MAPP is excited to announce all plant tour events for MAPP members in 2019. Plant tours are key events for MAPP members, giving them the opportunity to visit other member facilities. During these events, dozens of plastics professionals come together, view all aspects of the host organization (from production to HR to quality to warehouse), benchmark best practices, share important strategic insights and network with other members. MAPP offers these events to all processors, along with specialty plant tours for the industry’s young professionals. Listed below are the upcoming 2019 MAPP Plant Tour events: MAPP Plant Tours • March 27, Intralox – Hammond, Louisiana • May 16, Natech Plastics – Ronkonkoma, New York • August 8, Vital Plastics – Baldwin, Wisconsin MAPP Plant Tours for Young Professionals • February 21, Intertech Medical – Denver, Colorado • July 25, Dymotek – Ellington, Connecticut • November 14, RJG – Traverse City, Michigan Learn more about these upcoming events and register: www.mappinc.com/events 2019 State of the Industry Report Now Available – With New Features The 2019 State of the Plastics Industry now is available for purchase on the MAPP website. This 56-page report details more than three dozen economic indicators covering 2018 industry performance and 2019 plastics industry forecasts. With input from nearly 200 plastics companies across the country, this annual report – now in its 19th year – analyzes historic and current trends to give plastics executives a closer look at how the plastics industry will perform over the next 12 months. Trend and forecast information in this report includes customer diversity and demographics, industry segment forecast, executive challenges, sales, quoting, backlog, inventory, shipments, off-shoring, customer demands, raw material pricing, employment levels, capital expenditures and profitability. New this year is the 2019 State of the Plastics Industry Discussion Guide. This guide was developed to help executives share the data included in this report and facilitate productive conversations about the state of the industry and its impact on their organizations.

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The 2019 State of the Plastics Industry Report and the Discussion Guide are available for purchase on the MAPP website: www.mappinc.com/resources MAPP Welcomes New Members MAPP is proud to welcome the following plastics organizations into the MAPP network: • ALPLA Inc., McDonough, Georgia • AMA Plastics, Riverside, California • AMS Plastics, El Cajon, California • Elite Plastic Products, Inc., Shelby Township, Michigan • Integrity Mold, Inc., Tempe, Arizona • MRPC, Butler, Wisconsin • Piolax, Canton, Georgia • Plaspros Inc., McHenry, Illinois • Plastic Molded Concepts, Inc., Eagle, Wisconsin • Reliable Caps, LLC, Olathe, Kansas • Royal Plastics, Mentor, Ohio • Selmax Corp., Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania • Tripak Industrial USA LLC, White Plains, New York • West Michigan Molding Inc., Grand Haven, Michigan • Westec Plastics, Livermore, California Processors Connect Virtually to Solve Problems (Forum and Peer Networking) Networking and connecting plastics professionals are fundamental elements of the MAPP organization. To help aid this critical mission, MAPP offers opportunities for MAPP members to connect via online platforms for the purposes of benchmarking, networking and solving problems. Two key resources offered to plastics companies through MAPP are the peer networking calls and the MAPP Member Forum. Peer Networking Calls • Already in 2019, MAPP has hosted four Peer Networking Calls for Human Resources Professionals, IQMS Users, Presidents and Owners, and those utilizing Industry 4.0. • Peer Networking Calls are members-only opportunities for professionals in common positions to connect with peers. These online peer roundtables occur every six to eight weeks. This webinar exchange offers a platform to discuss new and more efficient ways of doing business, by way of virtual connection right from participants’ desks. Attendees will have access to new ideas, expand their professional networks and explore methods of improvement. Members can register for upcoming calls: www.mappinc.com/events

MAPP Member Forum • The MAPP Member Forum is a digital forum on the MAPP website, available 24/7 to plastics companies in the MAPP network. Anyone from a MAPP member company can visit the forum, post a question and receive feedback from others who have answers. Forum topics that already have been solved in 2019 include obsolete tool disposal, mold condition standards, safety best practices, hearing protection, press rates and 4Dx scoreboard, to name a few. Visit the forum: www.mappinc.com/forum

Save the Date: 2019 Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Summit Save the date for the annual Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Summit, July 17 through 18, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. This is a unique event focused on helping manufacturers achieve worldclass safety standards. The annual EHS Summit will provide safety professionals with implementable ideas they can take back to their facilities. This event is designed to facilitate best practice sharing, build leadership skills and give attendees practical and innovative solutions to their largest safety challenges.

vacuum and needs to be practiced. The curriculum is intended to build understanding and skills across four main areas necessary for successful leaders. For each of the development domains, attendees will be provided with the core frameworks, principles, techniques and practices to build knowledge and skill. To view the curriculum, agenda and register: www.mappinc.com/events Plastics Companies Share Performance Appraisals As part of MAPP’s 2019 benchmarking initiatives, MAPP developed the 2019 Performance Reviews and Appraisals Report. MAPP members were asked to share how their companies utilize employee performance appraisals, as well as copies of performance reviews. The final report includes data from dozens of plastics processors and examines the practices and processes associated with these reviews. Additionally, the report includes more than 30 real-world examples of performance appraisals and reviews used by plastics companies across the United States. This report can be purchased on the MAPP website: www.mappinc.com/resources n

Learn more and register: www.mappinc.com

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 17


Integrating In-Mold Decorating into Injection Molding Workflow by John Berg, director of marketing, Sussex IM


osting, designing and developing a robust and repeatable manufacturing process, regardless of the application or industry, is a daunting task. In the plastics industry – specifically injection molding – the challenge can be amplified by tight tolerances for form and fit, meticulous surface finishes, the individual processing characteristics of resins, existing machine capacity, efficiencies and personnel resources. Manufacturing contracts can be years long with specific performance metrics and milestones, penalties for shortfalls and, ultimately, eroding margins. The more involved and broader the project scope, the greater the need for due diligence and careful planning. Adding the in-mold decorating aspect to the injection molding process compounds the difficulty matrix. It means adding extra equipment, materials and tight tolerance-based movement to the workflow. With each additional phase of a product manufacturing process comes the potential for additional scrap and equipment down time. Because of these additional

18 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 1

variables, a systems engineering management method is critical to an IMD project.

Identifying areas of study

Start by identifying and defining every step in the total process before breaking it into manageable action plans. Rather than simply assuming each person or supplier is responsible for the delivery of their piece, create a platform where the goals of the individual are understood in relation to the goals of the group. Every design decision made early on will impact successive phases. What confirmed or non-negotiable information can be proactively shared among the team? This requires an open One of many tolerance-based phases of the IMD process, a two-sided endof-arm tooling fixture places the film properly in the injection mold cavities. Photo courtesy of Sussex IM.

and communicative original equipment manufacturer (OEM)/ brand owner. Design concessions are inevitable once engineers begin digging. At the tool shop, all the standard considerations are still present: steel selection, gating, cooling and ejection – but these decisions must now account for the presence of the decorative film. At the molder, all the standard considerations are still present: press size, cycle time, materials procurement, part handling and packaging ejection – but these decisions must now account for the presence of the decorative film. Design for manufacturing (DFM) evaluation is especially important due to surface attributes – both visual and dimensional. Comprehensive process simulation is a valuable tool in forecasting challenges with regard to flatness, hot spots, cooling, flow and more.

Anticipating challenges and devising options

Because of the additional complexity of adding IMD, utilize a failure mode effects analysis (FMEA) approach, individually and collectively. This means building a virtual system by mapping out each phase of design, development (prototype and/ or pilot) and production launch. This obviously is done to quote the job – to identify the cost of the injection mold, fixtures,

robots, resins, artwork, film, assembly equipment, packaging and required personnel. In addition to their financial impact on the manufacturing cell, examine those individually identified phases and determine if they represent the best approach by asking what can go wrong. This literally means mapping out and questioning every station and workflow progression. Example One: At the tool shop – Injection mold design characteristics Gating location and style: Part geometry may dictate where the part will be gated, but the film works best when injection happens as symmetrically central as possible, fanning out from the fill center and holding the film in place during flow activity. Which one gets priority if the locations differ: part or film? Cooling strategies: The injection point brings a great deal of heat to the film at specific points of entry, with the potential for damage to the art. Which will be more effective for controlling steel temperature: cooling channels or steel selection? Should page 20 u

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induction heating technology be considered? Maintaining film placement location: Which method will be best: static charge, vacuum or a locating feature in the steel and part? Or a combination of methods? Example Two: At the molder – Manufacturing cell characteristics and film handling procedures End of arm tooling fixture design: At which touch points should the film be picked up to ensure one-at-a-time capture (per cavity), and what must be done to place it accurately in the mold? Are finished parts being retrieved with the same end of arm tooling (EOAT)? Film placement is referred to as “pinning.” Photo courtesy of Sussex IM. Managing label flatness: Which label nest method will be best? How big an impact will the molding environment have on mold? Is the film maintaining its position during injection? Is the film stability and performance within the process? Temperature, molded and decorated part meeting the aesthetic requirements? humidity and air cleanliness have a direct and profound impact When molders are ready to trial the system, they will need on film – not just at the injection molding machine but where the to set up the manufacturing cell to an as near-to-production films were stored prior to molding. environment as possible.

How do operators effectively handle the part for any successive value-added operations (assembly, additional decorating, testing, packaging…)?

Qualification of an IMD process

Allowances must be made for the likelihood of significantly more set-up time during sampling and qualification stages. Because of the presence of the film, an IMD sampling event will most assuredly take considerably longer than a traditional mold functional sample. The basic goals of ensuring water circuits are sound, the ejection system functions properly, and tool actions and shut-offs behave as expected are still there. However, molders also hope to see the decisions they made in the steel hold true for molded part dimensions. But, IMD brings many new goals and challenges to this stage. Is the film being effectively transported to – and is it staying in – the

20 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 1

Depending on the customer and application of the final product, meticulous aesthetics may be required – even during the qualification stage – as these parts often are used as marketing samples. A comprehensive validation phase and a long-term debugging mindset is a necessity prior to production launch.

Everyone on the same page and on the same team

Because of the nature of the IMD beast, a successful launch requires far more than building to spec. The film supplier can print and cut to the exact measurements supplied. The tool shop can design and build the mold to the database and print. The molder can create the production cell environment using the equipment appropriately sized for the scope of the project. Everyone can do their job by the book to the best of their abilities… and everything can get derailed in the first cycle of the first trial: films not separating properly in the staging magazine,

films not staying in the open mold after load, injection flow pushing the film out of place, film art discolored by the heat from injection, etc. Molders won’t know what will happen until it happens. However, if they proactively collaborate and forecast challenges to each other, they can use their combined experiences and problem-solving skills and have Plans B and C at the ready. n

Marketing for Manufacturers.com

John Berg is the director of marketing for Sussex IM, a custom molder specializing in value-added manufacturing. He has more than 30 years of experience in business-to-business marketing, sales and business development. Berg has been working in the plastics industry for more than 18 years. He serves on the education and marketing boards of the In-Mold Decorating Association. More information: www.sussexim.com Reprinted with permission from Plastics Decorating, www.plasticsdecorating.com.

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Intralox Builds a Winning Team by Lara Copeland, contributing editor, Plastics Business


ounded on the power of a good idea, Intralox, a global, comprehensive conveyance solutions company based in New Orleans, Louisiana, has held true to the values, environment and culture instilled by founder J.M. Lapeyre. Now, more than 40 years later, Gregory Washington, extrusion supervisor, describes Intralox as “a company of ideas and selfmanaged people who play well together, respect one another’s contributions and have lots of fun at work.” In the early years when the company first formed, Washington said he could imagine it was a challenge to help employees be inspired and productive in their work. This created a less than ideal working environment and led to a great deal of employee turnover. For Lapeyre, this reality was unsustainable. He understood the key to his company’s success resided within the bonds it created with employees and clients alike – that success was dependent upon a healthy company culture. “Today, our growth and sustained success are the result of a diligent focus on continuous improvement, a core belief that self-managed people are our greatest asset and a commitment to ideas, teamwork and effort,” Washington commented. Employing more than 2,100 people across its 11 global locations, Intralox focuses on four key areas: service, technology, accountability and results. Every employee at Intralox contributes ideas and takes action to make continuous improvements. It’s a culture of constantly seeking ways to produce greater results from actions – to improve processes and increase productivity before problems even arise. Maintaining the positive culture and environment at Intralox isn’t something that happens by sheer good luck. It takes a great deal of effort, attention and the collaboration of everyone involved. The company has enjoyed its success by reflecting the values of its founder, who was committed to treating employees, customers and suppliers with honesty, fairness and respect, and then applying those ideas to challenges and opportunities encountered within the business.

Maintaining a positive culture takes effort, attention and collaboration from everyone in the company. Photos courtesy of Intralox. For a closer look at Intralox, attend the MAPP Plant Tour on March 27. More info: www.mappinc.com

22 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 1

“Our culture is a very friendly, diverse and inviting environment where management and front-liners work hand in hand as collective units, leveraging ideas and employing unimpeded strategies for getting the job done,” Washington explained. “Our tightly knit culture and flatly structured teams promote and fuel idea generation by heightening workplace enthusiasm and engagement from all members.” He said these are not just buzzwords or fluffy leadership concepts, but “these attributes

are deeply rooted and grow out of a team-managed culture that is uncompromisingly supported by leadership and team members.”

Intralox team members are paid based upon their contributions, attitudes, ideas and teamwork abilities. They earn individual and team-based incentives for their commitments.

Of course, the company culture does encounter obstacles and challenges, needing occasional tune-ups and improvements. Team building remains a near-constant process at Intralox. Early on, the company sought and adopted a more feedback-styled leadership approach. This approach began with listening to all team members’ concerns and then transformed the way Intralox does business and engages its manufacturing teams. Intralox team members are paid based upon on their contributions, attitudes, ideas and teamwork abilities. They earn individual and team-based incentives for their commitments. In a manufacturing production environment, this sometimes leads to competitiveness and brings about disharmony among team members. However, Intralox has developed agreed-upon global practices to proactively resolve issues and challenges to the following: promoting innovativeness and idea sharing, encouraging a more self-management-style of sustaining highly engaged team members and team conflict resolution. “We do this fairly and are each held accountable for the practice’s execution and results,” Washington shared. It’s called the

Laitram Continuous Improvement Program, or LCI Principles. “It’s our culture’s bible, and it is supported by all at Intralox.” Washington believes that focusing on culture-building is vital to a company’s success. “Companies need to embrace culture as if their future depends on it, because it does,” he stated. “It will help them thrive on a game-changing level.” Starting small, by communicating positively with all team members daily or weekly, can bring about the positive change. Sharing positive thoughts or words of encouragement can lead to town page 24 u

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SOLUTIONS t page 23 hall huddles. “These huddles are small group meetings where leadership truly listens and does not insert themselves or their directives into the agenda. Just listen,” he added. Listening to the front-liners seems like common sense, but Washington said it is not commonly exercised in many companies. “Listen to the people closest to your products, services and customers – those closest to your processes and day-to-day practices.” A little empathy goes a long way. “Be unique in addressing the team’s concerns, ideas and hopes as if you were in their shoes… because at one time you were in their shoes,” he added. Once Intralox put the plan into action, the company’s established culture seemingly changed overnight. “It went from a culture of heavily managed team members to partners of self-managed individuals who are highly engaged, highly productive and work as collective units for success,” Washington said. Intralox’s team members have responded positively to the company’s culture and its practiced principles because “our values and philosophies embody their feedback and their hopes for a greater workplace and career,” he confirmed. “They feel a sense of ownership and are fully engaged in their tasks, and

they are mindful of the important role they play within our organization’s mission.” No one at Intralox is forced to buy into the culture’s ideologies; however, survival or success without adhering to the culture’s practices is virtually unachievable. Furthermore, there are a host of benefits that come from being a part of this highly engaged culture. For instance, biweekly, quarterly and annual incentives and profit sharing are awarded to team members. And, a family-friendly environment offers team members the ability to experience family day in the park, at motocross and in the children’s museum, or they can bring family to work for a day. They also can take advantage of various services for their families, such as free tutoring and education services, an on-site dietician, physical trainers, a gym and much more. Washington said culture building starts from the top of the organization if the team wants to win. “Laitram Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jay Lapeyre and Intralox President Edel Blanks are at the helm of our LCI Principles’ accountability adherence, and they truly believe and champion these principles. These principles are what make us unique in the marketplace and unique to the communities we serve.” n

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Steady Not Stagnant: Strong Performance Continues in 2019 by Ashley Burleson, Membership and Analytics Director, MAPP


s the industry heads into a new year, the theme that stands out for 2019 is one of maintaining performance, according to the most recent State of the Industry Report released by the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP). This is not to be confused with stagnation. On the contrary, many plastics companies experienced incredible growth over the last few years, and these companies now are working to maintain these high levels of performance. Overall, major economic indicators are pointing to a solid year for plastics companies. While the anticipated sales numbers for Q1 2019 and the rest of the year are not as high as 2018, the industry still is expecting sales to increase an average of 10 percent overall. For nearly 20 years, MAPP has been collecting information on fourth-quarter performance metrics, such as quoting, backlog, inventory, shipments, sales and profits. While the industry frequently reports slower business conditions during the fourth quarter, comparing fourthquarter to third-quarter performance offers the ability to gauge momentum heading into a new year, especially when examining historic data trends. Performance in the fourth quarter of 2018 remained relatively unchanged when compared to the third quarter, and this reflects similar trends to Q4 2017 and overall historic averages. Eighty-two percent of companies reported that Q4 2018 quoting either increased or remained steady when compared to the previous quarter. While percent of jobs received vs. jobs quoted is slightly below Q4 2017, 56% of survey respondents indicated they received at least 5% or more of jobs quoted. Additionally, 77% of companies remarked that

backlog also either increased or stayed about the same during the final quarter of 2018. page 26 u

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 25

BENCHMARKING t page 25 Looking forward into 2019, processors are anticipating sales to grow throughout the first quarter and to continue that trend the entire year. In the first quarter, 59% reported that sales should increase when compared to Q1 2018, and only 14% anticipated any decrease in sales when compared to one year ago. When predicting sales growth for the next 12 months, nearly threefourths of processors (73%) anticipated an increase in sales, and only one in 10 expected sales to decrease over the rest of the year. While sales are expected to increase – or at least remain steady – the same cannot be said about profits. Current profit levels for companies are being hurt by increased competition, customer demands, the cost of labor, healthcare costs and increasing prices for raw materials. However, as plastics companies plan their year, many are focused on automation, continuous improvement initiatives and new business developments, with the goal of combating current barriers to higher profit margins. However, as with all challenges, there are new opportunities to which plastics executives are turning their attention. For instance, when asked what major activities were planned for 2019, 39% of survey respondents reported plans for the implementation of

Eighty-two percent of companies reported that Q4 2018 quoting either increased or remained steady when compared to the previous quarter. additional automation/robotics. Another 16% indicated plans for new continuous improvement initiatives. Presumably, many of these plans will be employed to help reduce reliance on direct labor, especially in a tightened labor market, and increase efficiency and profitability. Overall, all major indicators suggest that the industry will maintain its steady, high performance throughout 2019. Those organizations that commit to solving major labor and efficiency issues with new technology and innovative solutions likely will finish the year ahead of their competition. n More information on MAPP’s State of the Industry Report or to purchase this year’s report: www.mappinc.com

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Prepare for Supply Chain Pressures by Liz Stevens, contributing writer, Plastics Business


o manufacturing operation is immune to supply chain risk. Supply chain problems can occur at any stage of the product lifecycle, and – for those who cannot avoid risk (think everyone) – a “belt and suspenders” mindset is vital to preparing for potential disruptions on the horizon. To minimize risk exposure and be better prepared when supply chain problems crop up, a risk avoidance professional stressed the importance of being proactive rather than reactive – and emphasized that companies can capitalize on their investment in contingency planning by using it as a competitive advantage. Erika Melander is the industry manager leading the manufacturing segment at Travelers, the property casualty insurance company with the iconic red umbrella logo. In an extensive interview, she provided expert guidance on contingency planning, overseas supply chain links, employees, equipment and identifying specific pressure points.

Create a contingency plan

According to Travelers, the most effective contingency plans cover the entire manufacturing operation, with a special emphasis on responding to equipment issues. “The contingency plan is a biggie for us and for helping manage risk within the supply chain,” explained Melander. “It really touches on all parts of the supply chain: upstream, in plant and downstream. The contingency plan is going to encompass the entire cycle, so you are going to plan for any disruptions in your ability to receive raw materials or supplies. You also want to plan for any disruptions within your four walls. But then, there may be disruptions for your customers. It’s important to think through the impact of your ability to ensure a really good customer experience during a disruption so that they would purchase from you as a manufacturer again – and possibly spread the word so that you are able to pick up new customers.” Melander continued, “Creating a contingency plan is a crucial process to go through in order to maintain any type

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of competitive advantage. Per a report from FEMA, 40% of businesses never recover from a disaster. And, of those, only 29% are still operating after two years. It’s not all doom and gloom, though, because what Travelers focuses our efforts on is this: Let’s avoid that scenario and put you in the best position possible to successfully continue to operate your business should a disaster happen anywhere along the supply chain.” To be prepared, write up a checklist that – at a minimum – covers all equipment scenarios including key machines, spare parts inventory, sources for specialized rental equipment and local repair contractors. And, ask what relationships with other companies are in place so that one of those companies might be able to lend a hand in an emergency.

Appreciate the upstream, overseas factor

With extreme weather, trade tariffs and global politics having an ever-increasing impact on foreign-sourced materials, proactive manufacturers can get a jump on managing their own overseas risk factors with a combination of knowledge and well-designed procedures. Knowledge is power, whether it be knowledge of regulations and standards, intel on overseas suppliers or thorough documentation of everything related to international business page 32 u


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OUTLOOK t page 30

dealings. Some common procedures that give greater control over the risk of dealing with overseas suppliers include approval processes for changes, rigorous quality control programs and independent product testing. Plastics Business asked Melander about knowing upstream overseas suppliers. Does that mean where are they, and what they are susceptible to? What might go wrong over there, and do you want to take that risk or consider using a different supplier or having a variety of suppliers available? “What do people commonly miss when creating a contingency plan?,” asked Melander. “From our perspective, it’s thinking through the additional considerations, such as supplier risk. You work so hard to create a contingency plan for your operation, but what are your suppliers doing? How are they ensuring that they will stay in business should a disaster strike, and how are they ensuring that they can meet your orders?” When asked about the notion of applying diversification as a supply chain risk management tactic, whether that be

diversifying a company’s clients or diversifying its suppliers, Melander explained, “There are a couple ways to target it: Diversification is certainly one of them, but so is a backup plan. A good example is several years old, but the imagery is vivid: In 2011, Japan suffered from the effects of a tsunami. Japan, in that area that was hit by the tsunami, was the only place in the world that created a specific paint in a specific color of black. And, that black was used on so many vehicles being produced in the United States that it actually brought production to a halt.” Melander continued, “It’s logical and reasonable to plan for a backup supply source, but you also have to think about how quickly you can get those backups up and running.” Disaster isn’t the only risk to an overseas supply source; uncertainty about the impact of US tariffs is rampant throughout the manufacturing community. “The tariffs certainly are something we’re thinking about, and we’ve heard from some companies that maybe China is not where they’ll continue to do their manufacturing,” she said. Monitoring quality control for supplies arriving from overseas also is a key part of creating a contingency plan, and Melander discussed what is most important about the quality control process. “Should you have any overseas element to your supply chain, there’s a challenge when it comes to issues that might pop up and the time required to receive your product, identify problems and then replace the product,” Melander explained. “It’s good to have a rigorous process as soon as you are able to get to the product. A lot of large manufacturers have a QC team that lives and works in the manufacturing plant overseas. That, of course, is not a possibility for the average manufacturer, but the key is to implement a QC program in a formalized and rigorous way. That protects the quality of the products that are being produced, and the ability to meet your customers’ expectations to maintain your brand and reputation in the marketplace.”

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In addition to planning for product and material sourcing, Melander urges manufacturers to consider the other end of the product lifecycle. “If you think further down the supply chain, what about your customers?” asked Melander. “What are their contingency plans? How can you ensure that the orders that you are working so hard to deliver will get to your customers, or that your customers are still financially solvent and can purchase from you?”

Whether looking at upstream or downstream partners, Melander points out that transferring risk is a smart business practice. “When we think of transferring risk, we want to make sure our insureds are entering solid contractual relationships with their suppliers and their customers so that, if something were to happen, it is very clearly outlined who is responsible for what,” she said. “This eliminates some of the finger pointing and puts more emphasis on resolution of problems. “

Prepare to repair

When bringing additional equipment into a plant and getting it online, Travelers recommends that manufacturers prepare not only for the inevitable breakdowns that will happen over time but also for any custom modifications required at installation. Will costly or time-consuming modifications be needed before a new machine goes online, and will those modifications complicate future repairs? Facilities that are prepared for repair also estimate lead times for technician visits, calculate the time necessary for repair part deliveries and confirm that new parts will be available for older machines. Having an on-site repair team can be part of a contingency plan, but Melander stressed that this isn’t always feasible. “Some facilities have the luxury of having a formalized repair or service group, but it’s most important to consider whether replacement parts are on hand or if they quickly can be obtained. Do you have employees locally with the skillsets to make repairs, or do you need to reach out to the manufacturer for support with repairs or equipment? It’s things like these that can have an impact, but you don’t really realize how great an impact they can have – until something goes wrong.”

Recognize the most valuable players

Travelers understands that manufacturers rely on specialized machinery that is, in turn, operated by specialized, highly trained employees. If those players are sidelined or worse, bottlenecks or even complete production shutdowns may occur. A continuity plan should identify the most valuable players (MVPs) in the facility, ensure that the alternative operators have adequate training and real-time practice, and draw up a succession plan for key players. Melander explained, “It’s more than the folks who sit in a corner office. It’s really those individuals who meaningfully contribute to the operation and help the manufacturing plant stay effective and efficient. In our Bottleneck White Paper, we reference a very experienced technician who was let go because of contraction within the company’s workforce, and this individual was not seen as a key employee. Once the person was let go, the company realized the mistake in that a lot of their equipment wasn’t running as smoothly. They had more downtime, and they

Facilities that are prepared for repair also estimate lead times for technician visits, calculate the time necessary for repair part deliveries and confirm that new parts will be available for older machines. didn’t have the knowledge or resource to repair the equipment quickly, and so the long-term impacts were something they hadn’t considered when they let this person go.”

Locate unique pressure points

Each company is different, with a complex set of upstream, in-plant and downstream components. Travelers realizes that a strain or a break in any link in these unique supply chains may disrupt production or order fulfillment. “Managing a risk and determining the supply chain link that is at most risk in a company is all very individualized, and it’s always evolving,” Melander said. “A tool like Travelers’ Supply Chain Pressure Test is a quick way to keep tabs on those parts of your supply chain that are continuously evolving and that might then need a different response so that your supply chain and the way you manage it does not go stale.” Melander sums up the supply chain risk challenge succinctly: “The overarching theme is the recognition that the supply chain is ever-evolving and that we see businesses using their planning and strategy around the supply chain as a competitive advantage. If you look at the contrary – that is, if you don’t have a good process in place – we have that statistic that 40% of businesses fail after a disaster. That’s certainly a competitive disadvantage.” n The Travelers Supply Chain Pressure Test (https://www.travelers. com/quiz/supply-chain-management/supply-chain-pressure) presents a short series of questions to gauge a company’s distinct supply chain strengths and weaknesses and, in response, provides useful suggestions. The tips help manufacturers assess the possible risks upstream with their supplier/material sources, identify the most crucial players and processes in-plant, and imagine complications that may arise downstream such as logistics snags and product recalls. More information: https://www.travelers.com/resources/ business-industries/manufacturing

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 33


The View from 30 Feet Business gurus often talk about the view from 30,000 feet – the big picture that provides a look at overall operations. Perhaps, however, the focus should be on the view from 30 feet – a close-up of specific processes and procedures that make an impact now.

Communicating Ideas for Improvement at Thogus by Lara Copeland, contributing editor, Plastics Business


s the old saying goes, “What gets measured, gets done,” and Thogus, Avon Lake, Ohio, takes this idea to heart. Founded in 1950, Thogus began as a tool and die company. Now, a custom plastic injection molder and contract manufacturer, Thogus develops solutions for multiple industries, including small appliance, healthcare, consumer, shooting and sport, fluid management, transportation, industrial, and building and construction. Its 76,000-square-foot facility houses 35 injection molding machines that range in size from 44 to 400 ton. Employing around 100 staff members, the Thogus management team knows that good communication is key to its success.

Over six years ago, Thogus took a casual approach to communication regarding improvement. “It was very informal and occurred sporadically on the production floor,” noted Erin Hlavin, human capital manager at Thogus. “There was no system in place to track ideas or projects implemented. We knew we were making improvements – we just didn't have a formal record of them.” That’s when the management alert card (MAC) system was put into place. “The MAC system is one of the tools that is used to encourage communication between shifts, between employees and management, and between departments,” Hlavin explained. This improvement in the communication system allows for documentation of concerns, issues and suggestions to help improve Thogus. Set up in a universally accessible location on the wall outside the operations office, a box full of blank MACs is available for employees to fill out. There also are nine labeled boxes where personnel can submit MACs. Each box represents one of nine areas – automation, continuous improvement, maintenance, material, operations, process/engineering, quality, safety and tooling – and one manager is assigned to each area. With so many areas available for improvement suggestions, Hlavin said at least two or three management alert cards are

34 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 1

Nine areas are available for suggestions of improvement from employees at Thogus. Photo courtesy of Thogus.

submitted per week. “Each manager is responsible for reviewing and determining the proper next steps for each card that is submitted,” she said. If suggestions received through the MAC system are not feasible for any reason, the responsible manager follows up with the person who submitted the card to explain why the suggestion will not be used. For MACs that are implementable, results or progress are formally reviewed each month. Since the MAC system has been implemented, Hlavin said many completed projects have helped save time and money on production floor processes. “Employees have found easier ways to perform tasks, which has led to reducing labor on jobs,” she

stated. “Some suggestions have led to improvements in the safety of the workplace environment.” As an example of an implemented MAC card, a trainer reported an issue with a pin fixture used on a medical part. The fixture was worn out and, as a result, parts were not being stopped where they should. A MAC card was used, and a request for a new fixture was issued. “Within four days, the tooling team had a new fixture created and implemented,” Hlavin said. After the new fixture was in place, the inserts could be placed on the fixture within the correct length, preventing shorts from being produced. In another instance, two inspection operators identified a problem with being able to safely retrieve packaging from the top racks in the inventory storage areas. Packaging was stacked across the width of a pallet, but the operators only could access the front half of the pallet – leaving the rest of the pallet unevenly stacked. The operators suggested the purchase of a pole or tool of some sort to reach the packaging bundles at the back of the pallet. Thogus ordered poles with hangers on the end, much like those used in retail stores, to allow operators to safely reach the far sides of the pallets. Overall, Hlavin said, “Implementing the program has led to awareness on all levels of the plant.”

Creating a safer, more efficient working environment isn’t the only benefit of the MAC system. Additionally, employees are acknowledged on the Management Alert Card Board when they have suggested an improvement that has a positive impact on the plant. “It is important to reassure employees that all suggestions are evaluated and taken into consideration,” Hlavin explained. “We also have a ‘Shout-Out’ board in our lunchroom where peers and managers often recognize those that have made improvement suggestions on the MAC.” Those Shout-Outs are read at Thogus’ monthly communication meetings, and the person being thanked gets to spin a prize wheel. Many facilities are interested in increasing improvement communication, and according to Hlavin, “ensuring you have a team committed to implementing improvements and a program supported by management” are keys to its success. “We also would recommend tracking suggestions/improvements so that you have the information to refer back to – its always good to see your progress.” n

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Advocacy for Plastics in Legislation by Liz Stevens, contributing writer, Plastics Business Editor’s Note: The Manufacturers Association of Plastics Processors (MAPP) once again has partnered with Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) for the 2019 Plastics Industry Fly-In. The event, to be held March 26 and 27 at the St. Regis, Washington, DC, smooths the way for plastics processors to meet with their state senators and representatives in the nation’s capital. The late Bill Carteaux, former president and CEO of PLASTICS, was a driving force behind the Plastics Industry Fly-In. His presence will be greatly missed.


egislation aimed at the plastics industry is widespread – and heavily covered in the news media. Since 2009, 13 states have enacted bans on the use of BPA (bisphenol A). The City of Seattle banned plastic straws in 2018. In 2019, San Diego joined a growing number of cities to ban Styrofoam containers. And, few recent developments can compare to the impact of tariffs, including the tariff on Chinese steel injection molds that now has been suspended – at least for 2019.

Plastics Industry Fly-In Information The annual Plastics Industry Fly-In is a key event that offers plastics manufacturers access to federal lawmakers and decision makers in Washington, DC. Fly-In activities will take place on Wednesday, March 27, with a morning of briefings at the hotel, along with afternoon meetings on Capitol Hill and an evening reception on Capitol Hill. Information about the Fly-In, including registration, agenda and accommodations, can be found at www. plasticsindustry.org/event/2019-spring-national-board-meeting-plasticsindustry-fly. For more information, contact the MAPP offices at 317.913.2440. Those in the plastics manufacturing industry who would like to identify and reach out to a US Representative in the House can start by visiting www.house. gov/representatives/find-your-representative. To locate US Senators, visit www. senate.gov/ and click on the “Find your Senators” link at the top of the page.

Those legislative actions, while significant, are not the only items being discussed in Washington, DC, that concern the plastics industry. Plastics business owners and leaders also could see significant impact from decisions on healthcare, employment training and even the US Postal Service.

they tell us what is important to the current administration.” The day then moves on to personal visits, where attendees meet with their state’s legislators. “We get to sit with them and their staff and talk through the things that are important to us and the challenges to our businesses,” Harp continued.

Plastics manufacturers have opportunities to be proactive on these and other issues by creating relationships with their local, state and national political representatives. These relationships give manufacturers the chance to drive the narrative on plastics by presenting the industry’s entire story, heralding its value and correcting misperceptions. Meeting with representatives also gives manufacturers the stage to describe how proposed legislation will impact their businesses, employees and customers.

For Revere Plastics’ President Glen Fish, the one-on-one time provided valuable perspective. “It was interesting to get the legislators’ take on the open issues that affect our industry and to hear their positions and actions they are taking,” he said. “The meetings often put you together with others in the industry, including machine builders or resin suppliers, so you get the bigger picture on every issue.”

Leaning in on legislation

Glen Fish of Revere Plastics Systems, LLC in Novi, Michigan, and Ben Harp, of Orchard Park, New York-based Polymer Conversions, participated in last year’s plastics industry legislative event. In separate interviews, they shared their thoughts on issues of great concern to manufacturing companies and about their experiences in Washington, DC. Harp, chief operating officer at Polymer Conversions, has attended the last two Fly-Ins. “The morning starts out with a speech from an elected official or someone in the Cabinet,” he said. “The speeches kick off the tempo of the day because

36 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 1

One issue of importance to Fish – and the industry as a whole – is the education of a skilled workforce. “There is a severe shortage now – to the point of an epidemic,” Fish stated. “As technology advances and manufacturing processes continue to become more sophisticated, the need for skilled workers is only going to increase. We are staring at a potential crisis that can be improved if we start acting now.” Harp agreed, mentioning the value of apprenticeship programs and the opportunities a visit with legislators can bring to advocate for agendas that include skilled labor shortages. Polymer Conversions has an established apprenticeship program, and he talks it up with federal lawmakers. “Getting in front of our legislators creates an opportunity to tell them about

the importance of programs like that,” he explained, “and the importance of those legislators possibly getting behind programs that incentivize smaller molding and tooling companies so that those companies can spread that investment power across even more training opportunities.” Harp also described interactions with legislative representatives on issues that are not plastics industry-specific. “We also talked about healthcare and the Affordable Care Act,” he said. “The restrictions in that healthcare legislation have been significantly burdensome to our business.” Summing up the value of personal interaction with political representatives, Harp said, “Since officials pull their information from various entities and agencies, it’s an opportunity to communicate with them, unfiltered, on the topics that are important to us. Then, we can help influence things on Capitol Hill in a way that’s favorable to our businesses and industry.” While federal outreach through events like the Plastics Industry Fly-In are valuable, Fish also stays in contact with state and local politicians. While it can be frustrating to advocate for change at the federal level because of a lack of immediate action when concerns are raised, communication at the local level is often more efficient. “We do see more immediate action as we move toward the local level,” he said. “The problems being addressed are more tactical, and the local governments typically move more quickly.”

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Fish described some of the issues he has shared with legislators. “We have met with local and state government to discuss potential incentives or assistance that could help us on a major capital investment for a new business project,” he said. “They have all been very supportive of our efforts.” Fish also has invited US representatives to visit his facilities. “We had US Representative Tre Hollingsworth of Indiana visit our facility to help celebrate a safety milestone of 1 million hours worked without lost time,” he said. “US Representative Jim Jordan toured our Clyde, Ohio, facility and discussed some of our challenges while seeing what our factory manufactures.” Those visits provide yet another way for plastics manufacturers to share concerns and insights with local, state and federal lawmakers. Lawmakers can only support and advocate for who (and what) they know – one of the most persuasive arguments that can be made for speaking up and developing relationships with those setting the political agenda. n

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 37

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Plastics Industry Swings from Free Trade to No Trade by Chris Kuehl, managing director, Armada Corporate Intelligence


he US once was considered a champion of free trade and now is attacked by many as a protectionist nation. Some Republicans deeply oppose the trade and tariff policies that have been promulgated by President Trump, and others celebrate the effort as long overdue. The same split occurs in the Democratic party, as trade policy is one of those things that cuts across traditional political lines. What exactly is meant by free trade or fair trade? Not surprisingly, dozens of answers exist, with few agreeing on even the basic idea. If one consults the textbooks, the issue of trade is neatly divided into two motivations, but this is rarely the way the real world handles it. There is trade based on “absolute advantage,” which takes place when a given nation is the only place where a certain product or commodity is found. The nation then can trade that unique product for other materials. The notion of “comparative advantage” is more complex and involves determining what a given nation does best. The US could produce bananas in Florida and Hawaii to free itself of the banana import tyranny, but it is not worth it. The US-grown fruit would be very, very expensive, so it is simply more logical to buy bananas from Honduras or Ecuador. By the same token, the Hondurans could devote a huge amount of their GDP to building the nation’s own commercial airliner, but it is simpler to trade bananas to the US and elsewhere and then use that money to buy planes. These simple constructs fall apart quickly. To begin with, no single nation has a true absolute advantage. Anything that can be manufactured can be produced anywhere there is a desire to do so. It is true that not every nation has gold or oil or rare earth minerals, but no nation has a lock on them either. It also is true that not every nation is capable of launching rockets to the moon, but there are several that can. The comparative theory would hold that developed nations would concentrate exclusively on the high-value and high-level outputs while leaving low-value production to others – as well as most of the food production – but that is not what happens.

The impetus for most protectionism is a desire to insulate a segment of the population from competition. If a decision is made to import clothing from a nation that has far lower production costs, the average consumer will benefit from those lower prices, but the people who worked in the consumer’s country making clothes will lose their jobs. The political leaders have a natural desire to protect their constituents to some degree, although they have to balance that desire with the equally important desire to make their consumers/constituents happy. The push to protect becomes even stronger when the item has national importance – steel making, for example. To some degree, every nation is protectionist as it tries to make itself stronger, and there is inherent conflict when there is trade. People lose their jobs to a competitor that does a better job and attracts more consumers, but competition isn’t necessarily bad. Few would suggest having just one restaurant in town so that the cooks and waiters would have a protected job. For decades, it has been a goal of policy makers to bring order to the chaos of trade. This is why numerous sets of rules and regulations have been designed to “level the playing field.” Unfortunately, these can go only so far because countries are very different in terms of their assets. China can produce many products more cheaply than the US, simply because Chinese workers traditionally are not paid as much as Americans (or Europeans or Japanese, etc). The cost of living also is far lower in China and other similar nations. The issue comes when China does even more to give itself an advantage – giving subsidies to some sectors, stealing technology from rivals, banning imports that compete and so on. China certainly is not the only nation that does these things, which is why so many organizations dedicate themselves to halting the more blatant manipulations. page 40 u

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 39

ECONOMIC CORNER t page 39 To make matters that much more interesting, not all trade deals are about economic issues or trade. The US granted access to its market for years as part of its Cold War strategy against the USSR. A nation that agreed to support the US position against the Soviet Union would be granted access, regardless of what that might do to the US companies that competed with these imports. The end of the Cold War ended some of these deals, but other political motivations remain – fighting terrorism or taking a stand against some other unpopular regime.

one of the most globally centered. Consumers exist all over the world, and the materials that are used are globally traded. The price of oil and natural gas will have an immediate impact on revenue and profits, and these prices change daily according to global demand and global production decisions. The use of plastic is ubiquitous, finding its way into the very cheapest and the most expensive of products. It is exported and imported and only rarely are consumers even aware that it is a big part of what they just consumed.

Today, the mantra is “America First,” and trade deals are anathema. Would that it was that simple. The question now is which “America” is first – the manufacturer/producer that is being protected from foreign competition or the US consumer who will be paying higher prices now that imports are restricted? The worker is pitted against the consumer, but the average person is both – and attention needs to be paid to both sides.

The top destinations for US plastics exports are Canada and Mexico – not surprisingly. These two countries account for more than half of what is exported from the US, which makes the creation of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement important. In many respects, the revised pact is simply North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with a new name, but there have been changes in the domestic content provisions for the auto sector. It is useful to remember that “domestic,” in the context of the USMCA, means any of the three nations, but these new rules will make it much harder to bring parts and material from nations in Europe and Japan (among others).

So, what? All this is doubtless fascinating to one and all, but specifically what does this mean to those in the plastics business? As with most things, it is complex. The fact is the plastics business is

page 42 u

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that’s innovation Past these big two, the US exports to China – third on the list and accounting for almost 5% of all exports (Canada is 8% and Mexico is 6.5%). The fact is that Chinese tariffs and restrictions on US exports will hurt. When it comes to imports, the Chinese dominate – the US imports almost three times the plastic it exports to China. Right behind the Chinese are the Canadians, and they export twice as much to the US as they import. China accounts for roughly 5% of all exports to the US, and Canada accounts for around 4%. This essentially means that the US exports and imports to/from hundreds of countries all around the world. If your business has developed or improved products, processes, techniques, formulas, inventions or software, you may be able to claim a federal tax credit.


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The fact is the plastics business is one of the most globally centered. Consumers exist all over the world, and the materials that are used are globally traded. It would be almost impossible to separate the pattern of plastics trade into “good” and “bad” – or even fair and unfair. The producers of specific plastics may be up against a heavily supported competitor from another nation or they may have carved out a niche that gives them what amounts to an absolute advantage. Trying to govern this through a maze of laws and regulations can be daunting, and many would assert that it is detrimental to try. On the other hand, the fact remains that many nations do their best to manipulate and alter the market to suit their purposes and thus distort the notion of real competition. The US once was perhaps too committed to absolute notions of free trade and too attuned to the needs and wants of the consumer – but now may have swung too far in the other direction towards protectionism that will detrimentally impact the bulk of American and global consumers. n Chris Kuehl is managing director of Armada Corporate Intelligence. Founded by Keith Prather and Chris Kuehl in January 2001, Armada began as a competitive intelligence firm, grounded in the discipline of gathering, analyzing and disseminating intelligence. Today, Armada executives function as trusted strategic advisers to business executives, merging fundamental roots in corporate intelligence gathering, economic forecasting and strategy development. Armada focuses on the market forces bearing down on organizations. More information: www.armada-intel.com

42 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 1

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Five Manufacturing Trends to Watch in 2019 by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers


he future of the manufacturing industry will be shaped by a number of ever-evolving trends and technologies. While there’s no telling exactly how things will play out in the long term, it seems safe to suggest a few will have a profound impact on manufacturers this year. As a result, it’s critically important for those within the industry to develop a keen sense of what they are, how they will change over time and, most importantly, how they will impact organizations in 2019 and beyond. Here are five manufacturing trends to watch in the near term.


Intelligent Manufacturing. The concept of intelligent manufacturing always is changing. But, in the simplest sense, it can be defined as a large-scale integration of cutting-edge artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing technology and processes. Ultimately, intelligent manufacturing serves to help companies optimize organizational systems, improve product quality, increase the efficient allocation of resources and positively impact customer service.

Advancements in digital technology are driving the rise of intelligent manufacturing 1. It’s now possible for integrated systems to enable communication and collaboration between equipment and people, allowing for the creation of customized products to be accomplished with the efficiency of mass production. In doing so, manufacturers can increase customer engagement and positively impact relationships with equipment end users. In fostering the development of a connected ecosystem of people and equipment communicating in real time, manufacturers are poised to better meet the needs of the industries they serve while simultaneously reducing cost and inefficiencies.


Data Utilization. Being able to simply manage the mounds of data generated by manufacturing processes is not enough anymore. Companies need to go beyond efficiently storing information and consider how best to go about using it to gain insights into their businesses and make actionable and informed decisions about their future.

In the most traditional sense, data management consists of harvesting company data, constructing an ecosystem to support it and then acquiring business intelligence hardware to aid in organizational assessment and analysis. The problem is there’s

often too much data to manage, so companies fail to consistently make observations or find useful takeaways from the information. In short, they’re not utilizing the data, and they’re not really even managing it, either. According to a recent article in IndustryWeek 2, organizations must be willing to ask (and answer) some key questions about how they use data. In doing so, they can begin to identify areas of improvement and ways in which the information can be leveraged to ultimately benefit their bottom lines. Questions include the following: page 44 u

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INDUSTRY t page 43 • How do we visualize the information that drives our business? • How do we make the right decisions required to grow our business? • What are the current sources of data we use to measure, analyze and sustain a true business reality? • Utilizing current sources of data, what areas of rapid improvement will quickly affect changes in our business? • What kind of data are available to an individual who understands how to read it? Organizational data can be overwhelming to manage. But, leading companies today are establishing processes and investing in tools to help increase both profits and productivity. And, as technology continues to develop and evolve, opportunities related to data utilization will become more and more prevalent with time.


The Internet of Things (IoT). The marriage of networked sensors and intelligent devices with connected equipment on the manufacturing plant floor has been one of the most impactful and transformative trends the industry has seen in quite some time. The ever-developing Internet of Things has not only turned traditional supply chains into interconnected and dynamic systems, it also has: • fundamentally changed the way in which products are made, • increased organizational efficiency, • improved organizational safety, and • reduced organizational costs and complexity.

However, according to an article in Wired 3, where the Internet of Things is poised to make a mark in the not-too-distant future is enterprise business models. More specifically, it could lead to more high-value equipment being leased, as opposed to being sold outright. The machinery of the future could be outfitted with built-in sensors and marketed as both a product and as service. Equipment owners then would be able to monitor it remotely and provide maintenance, repairs and necessary upgrades automatically. This would allow end users to focus on the work at hand instead of worrying about the condition of the equipment, leading to increased productivity and satisfaction. The Internet of Things already has had a profound effect on the manufacturing industry, but it offers the potential to do so much more in the coming years. IoT technology is not only capable of helping manufacturers improve productivity and efficiency, but now can be leveraged to positively affect customer service and end-user relationships.

44 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 1

The machinery of the future could be outfitted with built-in sensors and marketed as both a product and as service. Equipment owners then would be able to monitor it remotely and provide maintenance, repairs and necessary upgrades automatically.


Workforce Training. There’s no overstating the seriousness of the manufacturing industry’s skilled worker shortage in 2019. Manufacturing employs roughly 9% of the US workforce, yet it is increasingly unable to fill necessary positions with qualified people. As it stands, there are three times as many open skilled labor positions than are being filled. The skills gap is a significant problem right now, and there’s no reason to suggest anything will improve in the short term.

Thankfully, efforts are underway to find creative ways to address the skilled worker shortage. According to an article from Foley & Lardner LLP 4, states such as Michigan and North Carolina are attempting to lead the pack in terms of innovative solutions to the skills gap crisis. A recently adopted plan in Michigan calls for the investment of $100 million in initiatives that award competency-based certifications, offer aid to schools in changing their curriculum and equipment to help close the skills gap, as well as provide support for career development and school instruction. All of this is being done in an effort to prepare young people to enter the work world prepared for a career in the skilled trades. In addition, North Carolina currently is considering enacting similar legislation to address the skills gap in the state. By investing in training and education, key stakeholders inside and outside the manufacturing industry can begin to connect with the workforce of tomorrow, inspire them to strongly consider a career as skilled workers and – perhaps most importantly – develop them into qualified employees.


Artificial Intelligence. Artificial intelligence is everywhere, so it comes as no surprise that it’s beginning to be incorporated into manufacturing. In the near future, manufacturing facilities will evolve into connected networks of people and machines with supply chain assets, design teams, production and quality control, all integrated into a highly intelligent engine that monitors everything and provides actionable data and insights. Artificial intelligence can come in many forms, and the industry can expect it to make its presence known in manufacturing facilities as: • virtual reality, • automation, • Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure and • robotics.

While there are concerns about artificial intelligence eventually replacing human workers in a variety of industries, what seems clear – at least in the short term – is the technology will drive

increased efficiency and productivity. By incorporating the technology to help manage operational assets, companies are free to focus their time, effort and resources on product innovation and other key strategic priorities. n


1. https://www.huawei.com/en/industry-insights/technology/digitaltransformation/manufacture?kui=zdcAyVcE8ShibcxRzxFxxg#_ ts=1547644645835 2. IndustryWeek, Three Problems in Manufacturing that Impact Productivity and Profitability, Michael Mantzke and Robert Jonas, July 05, 2017 3. Wired, Industrial IoT: How Connected Things Are Changing Manufacturing, Robert Schmid, Deloitte Digital, July 2018 4. The Skills Gap in the Manufacturing Industry and What We Can Do About It, Foley and Lardner LLP, September 13, 2018

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers is a United States-based trade association for companies that manufacture equipment for industries such as agriculture, construction, mining and utility. AEM is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. More information: www.aem.org/think


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Six Suggestions to Improve Social Media Marketing Efforts for B2B Businesses by Brenda Eubank, Team 1 Plastics


ou know it’s important. You’ve read the articles. You’ve attended seminars on the subject. You’ve heard the message loud and clear. Everyone is telling you that you need to be utilizing social media on a consistent basis as part of your marketing strategy. So, why isn’t it happening? It’s always on your “To Do” list, but it’s just not getting done. Sound familiar?

It certainly was familiar to Team 1 Plastics, a plastic injection molding company for the mobility industry. For many years, that was the exact scenario that Craig Carrel, president and co-owner, experienced. “In 2010, when we updated our website,” Carrel explained, “we decided to start a blog entitled Plastics Pipeline and to add a News page to the website. We understood that one of the key components to SEO (search engine optimization) was to consistently have new content on your website. Our goal was to add either a news article or a blog to the website at least once a month. The article would then be automatically posted to our social media platforms through a scheduling tool like Hubspot, and would, in turn, drive traffic back to the website. It was a worthy goal; unfortunately, we never were able to achieve it.” Team 1 tried using internal resources for articles and blogs without consistent success. It was “hit or miss,” Carrel said, and more times than not, it was a “miss.” The problem was that writing the articles and blogs was never a high priority work assignment for any team member, nor was there any content planning.

Number of Annual Visits to Website Year


















Number of Visits from Social Media

In 2015, the company decided to try a different approach – hiring an outside resource with strong writing and communication skills, whose highest priority would be to post an article or blog at least once a month. Using the traditional means of advertising for an employment position, the company found an independent writer and contracted with her for 10 to 20 hours per week.











Working from home, the writer sets her own schedule. “I really appreciate the flexibility. I’ve never been a morning person, and I find that I really like working second shift. I can schedule most phone interviews and meetings during the afternoon hours and often will draft the articles and blogs during the evening.” She added, “When I tell someone that I’ll have a draft completed by the end of the day, I’m always referring to midnight.”









48 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 1

*As of 9/30/18. Data provided by Team 1 Plastics.

Like many business owners, Carrel had lots of ideas for articles and blogs. It didn’t take long to realize that posting once a month was not often enough. “During our initial conversations, Craig shared so many ideas for articles that I began to think that maybe we should post once a week. There was so much content, and we knew that the articles had to be timely. At the once-amonth pace, we’d be writing an article about the summer picnic in January!” With few exceptions, since October 2015 Team 1 Plastics has posted an article or blog to its website and social media outlets every Tuesday. And, the company has seen dramatic results. Annual hits to the company’s website from social media outlets have increased by almost 1000%. Can your company experience the same type of results? Team 1 Plastics thinks so and offers some practical tips: 1. Review Your Website. Because the goal is to drive traffic from social media platforms back to the website, make sure the website is up to date and relevant for both new and current customers, as well as potential employees. 2. Commit Resources to Your Marketing Effort. Find someone (Team 1 recommends an external resource) with excellent writing and communication skills who will dedicate 10 to 20 hours a week and commit to post either once a week or twice a month. Commit to a minimum of at least one year before analyzing results. Remember – it’s a marathon – not a sprint! 3. Collect Content. You can find content everywhere you look! Have you won an award? Do you have employees? (One of the most popular posts for Team 1 is its monthly profile of a team member.) Write about your company’s or employees’ involvement in your local community. Ask your employees for ideas for articles. To collect ideas for its articles and blogs, Team 1 Plastics annually gathers team members from each of its departments for a brainstorming session and asks questions such as: What’s new in your department? What improvements or changes have you made? What is on the horizon? and What’s happening in the plastics industry? The ideas are collected, prioritized and used to create a schedule.

your email marketing. Team 1 Plastics utilizes email marketing three or four times a year, including a “Year-End Review” email sent early in January, pulling the content for the email from the articles written throughout the previous year. 6. Try Sponsored Content on LinkedIn. Use some of your marketing resources in “sponsored content” on LinkedIn – the best B2B social media outlet (in Team 1 Plastics’ opinion). You can control the audience, the length of the campaign and the cost. Team 1 Plastics ran two test campaigns in the fall of 2018 with such excellent results that it plans to dedicate additional marketing resources in 2019. n Team 1 Plastics is a state-of-the-art, custom, plastic injectionmolding company that specializes in precision and transparent plastic components for the mobility industry. For more than 30 years, the company has produced precision components with tight tolerances at its fully automated, 24/7 manufacturing facility located in south central Michigan and delivered them to companies around the world. Learn more: www.team1plastics.com or info@team1plastics.com

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4. Use a Scheduling Tool to Post to Social Media Various scheduling tools are available, including Hubspot, Hootsuite and Buffer. Some have free accounts; some are monthly or yearly subscriptions. 5. Reuse Written Content for Your Email Marketing. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Use written content from articles for


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Chem-Trend Enhances R&D Capabilities in Europe

SABIC Names Chase as North American Distribution Partner SABIC, a manufacturer of diversified chemicals headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has named Chase Plastic Services, Inc., of Clarkston, Michigan, as a key distribution partner, serving SABIC customers for specialty engineering thermoplastics in the US, Canada and Mexico. Chase Plastics joins Nexeo Solutions as authorized distributors of SABIC’s portfolio, including NORYL™ resins, ULTEM™ resins, LNP™ compounds and a range of polycarbonate-based, high-performance copolymers. Chase Plastics has 32 distribution centers and warehouses in the US, Mexico and Canada, and will begin serving SABIC customers during 2019 with a focus on initial introductions and orientation to programs in process with select SABIC customers. Chase Plastics representatives will have access to SABIC’s global application design and testing resources. For more information, visit www.sabic.com and www.chaseplastics.com.

Chem-Trend, a Howell, Michigan-based company offering high-performance release agents, purging compounds and other process chemical specialties, announced the opening of a research and development laboratory space in Maisach, Germany. The new lab space, spanning almost 10 acres, will enhance Chem-Trend’s existing R&D capabilities. Various parts of the facility will be used by parent company Freudenberg Chemical Specialities’ Chem-Trend, Klüber Lubrication and OKS business units. The integrated space includes areas for R&D, warehousing, training, dining and administrative services. Chem-Trend’s advanced technology center includes new equipment and laboratory space for its thermoplastics, polyurethane and wood composite R&D teams. For more information, visit ChemTrend.com.

iD Additives Introduces Eco-Friendly Rust Remover and Preventative iD Additives, Inc., LaGrange, Illinois, a supplier of foaming agents, purging compounds and liquid color and additive systems, has introduced a rust removal and preventive product for injection molds, blown film dies and other products. Eco-Pro 360 is a green, water-based, environmentally safe, EPA tested and verified product. The product is non-hazardous, non-aerosol and non-flammable. Eco-Pro 360 removes mill oil, flash rust and white rust without etching; provides a protective coating for rust protection; works on all ferrous and nonferrous metal surfaces; and cleans, coats and seals. Eco-Pro 360 is reusable: After filtering out rust particles, the fluid can be re-used numerous times. It is available in one-gallon containers, five-gallon containers and 55-gallon drums. For more information, visit www.idadditives.com.

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Carbon® Designs L1 Printer for High-Volume Production Redwood City-based hardware, software and molecular science developer Carbon announced the L1 printer, the newest hardware addition to the Carbon Platform, designed specifically for immediate, high-volume production. The L1 offers 10 times the build area of Carbon’s first product (the M1), making it ideal for printing many parts simultaneously. For customers that have high-volume production needs, the L1 is a solution that combines software, hardware and materials. A suite of software tools is available with the L1 to help control, monitor and log production across each stage of the manufacturing process. To ensure quality printing on the L1, products must be validated by Carbon in the design phase. L1s are not intended for general purpose printing. For more information, visit www. carbon3d.com.

3M Develops Global Adhesive Solutions Lab 3M, St. Paul, Minnesota, developed the Global Adhesive Solutions Lab to provide one-on-one attention and individualized solutions to advance its customers’ overall manufacturing processes. The lab encourages collaboration and engagement with professional application engineers. On-site, automated dispensing equipment and robotic cells from various manufacturers also are available, giving customers the chance to observe adhesive applications firsthand and interact with available tools to help ensure optimization. Users will benefit from personalized product and process recommendations, including help identifying adhesive solutions for their applications. For more information, visit www.3m.com.

Dassault Systèmes Acquires IQMS Dassault Systèmes, a provider of virtual universes headquartered in Vélizy-Villacoublay, France, and Waltham, Massachusetts, has agreed to acquire IQMS, a Paso Robles, California, manufacturing ERP software company. Closing of the transaction is expected in early 2019. With the acquisition, Dassault extends the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to small and midsized companies. By integrating IQMS’s solutions for managing engineering, manufacturing and business ecosystems into the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, Dassault offers a system that improves collaboration, manufacturing efficiency and business agility. IQMS’s solutions are used by manufacturing customers based primarily in the US for automotive, industrial equipment, medical device, consumer goods and consumer packaged goods. For more information, visit www.3ds.com.

Americhem Engineered Compounds Adds to InLube™ Line Americhem, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, a designer and manufacturer of custom color masterbatch, functional additives, engineered compounds and performance technologies, has developed InLube™ PCECO130, a wear-resistant alloy based on a polycarbonate that provides lubrication for optimum wear and friction performance without the use of PTFE. The alloy provides wear resistance in plastic-on-metal and plastic-onplastic applications. The product can span multiple industries and applications, including medical devices, data storage and business equipment. InLube™ PCECO130 is available in standard and high flow grades. FR grades are under development. For more information, visit www.americhem.com.

RJG Now an Authorized Training Center for Autodesk® RJG, Inc., Traverse City, Michigan, which offers injection molding training, technology and resources, now is officially an Authorized Training Center (ATC) for Autodesk®. This allows RJG to share its injection molding training background and experience with the worldwide Autodesk community. As an ATC, RJG provides students with Advanced Autodesk® Moldflow® training, software that is essential for creating simulations of plastic parts during part design, mold design phases and processing of the parts. As an ATC for Autodesk®, RJG is required to follow specific high standards that are continuously reviewed. RJG’s TZERO® group also uses Autodesk Moldflow as part of its consulting service. For more information, visit www.rjginc.com. n

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Inspiration from the Sports World by Dianna Brodine, managing editor, Plastics Busines


ith an apology to any New England Patriots fans… This year’s Super Bowl was quite the disappointment. I’m a diehard Indianapolis Colts fan living in Kansas City Chiefs territory, so my football season was going pretty well until Tom Brady interfered.

Luckily, my favorite former Colts coach wrote a new book to provide a distraction while I’m waiting six months for the next season to kick off. In case any readers are in the same boat, this Booklist offers lessons learned in teamwork, leadership and change from influencers in football.

The Soul of a Team: A Modern-Day Fable for Winning Teamwork Author: Tony Dungy Released: January 22, 2019

For most people, succeeding in life requires mastering the art of teamwork. Whether at work, school, church or home, virtually everyone is part of a team – and when they work well, teams can accomplish more than individuals working by themselves. But, not all teams are created equal. When a team isn’t functioning well, individual strengths can be undermined and weaknesses accentuated, making the work environment a terrible place to be. So, what does a truly effective team environment look like, and how can you create one within your own organization? As a former Super Bowl-winning coach, Tony Dungy is an expert at building and bringing out the best in a team. Drawing on his experiences from years of coaching and working with other leaders, this football fable lays out four essential principles practiced by truly effective teams. Telling the story of a fictional NFL team looking for a turnaround, The Soul of a Team not only identifies some of the most common issues that hold a team back but also lays out a game plan for winning teamwork. Whether you aspire to be a better leader or a stronger team player, The Soul of a Team will show you how to contribute to a stronger, healthier, more productive team destined for success.

The Captain Class: A New Theory of Leadership Author: Sam Walker Released: May 16, 2017

The seventeen most dominant teams in sports history had one thing in common: Each employed the same type of captain – a singular leader with an unconventional set of skills and tendencies. Drawing on original interviews with athletes,

52 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 1

general managers, coaches and team-building experts, Sam Walker identifies the seven core qualities of the Captain Class – from extreme doggedness and emotional control to tactical aggression and the courage to stand apart. Told through riveting accounts of pressuresoaked moments in sports history, The Captain Class will challenge your assumptions of what inspired leadership looks like.

You Win in the Locker Room First: The 7 C’s to Build a Winning Team in Business, Sports and Life Authors: Jon Gordon, Mike Smith Released: September 20, 2015

NFL head coach Mike Smith led one of the most remarkable turnarounds in league history. In the season prior to his arrival in 2008, the Atlanta Falcons had a 4-12 record, and the franchise had never before achieved back-to-back winning seasons. Under Smith’s leadership, the Falcons earned an 11-5 record in his first season and would go on to become perennial playoff and Super Bowl contenders. You Win in the Locker Room First draws on the extraordinary experiences of Coach Mike Smith and Jon Gordon – consultant to numerous college and professional teams – to explore the seven powerful principles that any business, school, organization or sports team can adopt to revitalize their organization. Step by step, the authors outline a strategy for building a thriving organization and provide a practical framework that gives leaders the tools they need to create a great culture, lead with the right mindset, create strong relationships, improve teamwork, execute at a higher level and avoid the pitfalls that sabotage far too many leaders and organizations.

In addition to sharing what went right with the Falcons, Smith also transparently shares what went wrong his last two seasons and provides invaluable lessons leaders can take away from his victories, success, failures and mistakes. You Win in the Locker Room First offers a rare behind-the-scenes look at one of the most pressure-packed leadership jobs on the planet and what leaders can learn from these experiences in order to build their own winning team.

The Thursday Speeches: Lessons in Life, Leadership, and Football from Coach Don James Authors: Peter Tormey Released: November 25, 2014

Two days before Christmas 1974, Don James seized the reins of a University of Washington football program in disarray. Immediately, James challenged players to do the hard work necessary to get to the Rose Bowl. Some players laughed, reminding James that Washington hadn’t been to the Rose Bowl since 1963. James insisted on his vision. In his third season, Washington advanced to the Rose Bowl and beat the heavily favored Michigan Wolverines. In 18 years at Washington, James’ compelling stories in his pregame speeches helped transform the Huskies from mediocrity to national champions. Now, the inspiring stories and invaluable life lessons James imparted to his players are available to all in The Thursday Speeches. Written by Peter Tormey, Ph.D., a three-year UW letterman linebacker for James (1976-1979), The Thursday Speeches puts readers in the room with the legendary coach, revealing the exact words James used to inspire the Huskies to slay the football giants of his day. The book stems from Tormey’s

doctoral research in Leadership Studies (Gonzaga University). James wrote the speeches before practice each Wednesday, by longhand, on 11-by-14-inch yellow legal pads. Exhibiting a voracious appetite for reading and an expansive intellect, James used a wide range of powerful stories to engage the Huskies, including topics such as Freud and Frankl, the Cheshire Cat in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the benefits of suffering, the importance of attitude, the key to problemsolving and the true meaning of fun.

Call an Audible: Let My Pivot from Harvard Law to NFL Coach Inspire Your Transition Author: Daron K. Roberts Released: January 10, 2017

In the summer of 2006, author Daron K. Roberts was just one year away from earning a law degree from his dream school: Harvard. But that summer, in the throes of a clerkship at a Texas law firm, Roberts had a revelation – he wanted something different. Very different. Daron Roberts wanted to be an NFL football coach. After making the transition from Harvard Law student to NFL newbie, Roberts worked as a coach for the Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions, West Virginia Mountaineers and the Cleveland Browns. But, he’s not forgotten how hard it was to take that first step in a new direction. In Call an Audible, Roberts shares his inspiring journey and reveals his playbook to help guide your next transition. n

Experience. Innovation. Excellence. ProtoCAM is a leading provider of value-added additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping services for customers in a wide variety of industries.

www.protocam.com 610-261-9010

SLA | SLS | MJF | FDM | PolyJet | Urethane Castings | Metal Prototyping | Specialty Finishing

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 53

SUPPLIER DIRECTORY Additive Manufacturing/ Prototypes ProtoCAM www.protocam.com Page 53

Financial Services Federated Insurance www.federatedinsurance.com Page 40

Energy Strategy

MBS Advisors www.mbsadvisors.com Page 42

Constellation www.constellation.com Page 26

Mueller Prost www.muellerprost.com Page 42

Equipment/ Auxiliary Suppliers

Stout www.stout.com Page 41

Conair www.conairgroup.com Back cover

Foaming Agents

Frigel www.frigel.com Page 49 Novatec www.novatec.com Pages 28, 29 Progressive Components www.procomps.com/z-series Page 7 Wittmann Battenfeld www.wittmann-group.com Page 14 Yushin America, Inc. www.yushinamerica.com Page 23

Events/Organizations AMI www.ami.ltd/exhibitions_USA Page 38 Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP) www.mappinc.com Page 31

iD Additives www.idadditives.com Page 31

Hot Runners INCOE Corporation www.incoe.com Page 15 Synventive Molding Solutions www.synventive.com Page 32

Marketing Services VIVE www.marketingfor manufacturers.com Page 21

MRO Supplies Grainger www.grainger.com Inside back cover

Molds/Tooling A-1 Tool Corporation www.a1toolcorp.com Page 47 B A Die Mold www.badiemold.com Page 46

54 | plastics business • 2019 Issue 1

Carson Tool & Mold www.carsonmold.com Page 47

M. Holland www.mholland.com Page 21

Concept Molds www.conceptmolds.com Page 47

PolySource www.polysource.net Page 24

Ivanhoe Tool & Die Company, Inc. www.ivanhoetool.com Page 46


Operations Consulting

Paulson Training Programs, Inc. www.paulsontraining.com Page 35

Harbour Results, Inc. www.harbourresults.com Page 45

Process Monitoring IQMS www.iqms.com Page 3 RJG, Inc. www.rjginc.com/training/overview Page 11 SIGMASOFT Virtual Molding www.virtualmolding.us Page 27 Syscon International www.syscon-intl.com Page 10

Purging Compounds ASACLEAN/Sun Plastech Inc. www.asaclean.com Inside front cover Chem-Trend www.chemtrend.com www.ultrapurge.com Pages 17, 37

Plastics Business 2019 Issue 1

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

Building a Winning Team Maximizing Business Value Partnering with Education Improving Social Media Marketing

Resins Amco Polymers www.amcopolymers.com Page 19 Chase Plastics www.chaseplastics.com Page 37

Official Publication of Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors

A guide to this issue’s Plastics Business advertisers.

What people

are saying... MAPP’s MRO Program with Grainger ensures we receive the best pricing on all of our supplies. No need to waste extra time and extra effort – just order and save. Grainger gets it done. It’s that simple.” – Jim Krause, Microplastics, Inc.

Grainger offers MAPP members significant discounts off 13 categories, including: • • • •

Motors Safety (people) Electrical Safety footwear

• Power transmission • Safety (facility) • Hand tools

• Material handling • Abrasives • Power tools

• Lubrication • Welding • Machining

Members also receive a discount off all other Grainger catalog and online products, as well as FREE shipping (restrictions apply).

Start saving with


Visit www.mappinc.com Grainger hotline: (888) 326-8605 Other freight charges will be incurred for such services as expedited delivery, air freight, freight collect, sourced orders, export orders, hazardous materials, buyer’s carrier, shipments outside the contiguous U.S. or other special handling by the carrier.


New Carousel Plus™ Dryer Conair’s new Carousel Plus™ smalland mid-sized dryers are 50% more energy efficient, require no water for cooling, and have a smaller footprint. Conair knows drying. We know that you want a robust dryer with features like trending screens, conveying control, temperature setback, dewpoint monitoring and control, and of course, the Conair Drying Monitor™. Get all this and more from Conair, in stand-alone portable dryers or in our mobile drying/conveying configuration. conairgroup.com/waterlessdryer

UPTIME GUARANTEED Conair equipment is designed, built and supported to ensure it will rarely, if ever, be the cause of unintentional production stoppages. If it ever is, we´ll help make things right.






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Plastics Business - Issue 1 2019  

Plastics Business - Issue 1 2019