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Plastics Business 2020 Issue 1

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

TAAF Fights Against Global Competition Molders Look Ahead to 2020 Filling the Leadership Gap Setting Sales Goals

Official Publication of Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors


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Contents

2020 Issue 1

outlook

12

talent

26

features

8 12 18 22 26 36

development Nationally Funded Program Offers Assistance to Manufacturers by Dianna Brodine, managing editor, Plastics Business outlook Molders are Looking Forward with 20/20 Vision of the Year Ahead by Cynthia Kustush, contributing writer, Plastics Business training Using a Web-Based Document Control and Training Platform at Automation Plastics by Lara Copeland, contributing editor, Plastics Business benchmarking Forecasts are Changing for Plastics Manufacturers in 2020 by Ashley Turrell, membership & analytics director, MAPP talent Young Professionals Network Fills Leadership Gap by Lara Copeland, contributing editor, Plastics Business production Workstation Innovation Results in Safer, More Efficient Organizations by Liz Stevens, contributing writer, Plastics Business

Read the latest articles from Plastics Business or download a digital edition at plasticsbusinessmag.com.

4 | plastics business • 2020 Issue 1


38

economic corner Let the Good Times Roll – But, for How Long? by Chris Kuehl, managing director, Armada Corporate Intelligence

42

sales Strategic Planning for Greater Sales Success by Brittany Willes, writer, Plastics Business How to Balance Customer Satisfaction and the Bottom Line by Dianna Brodine, managing editor, Plastics Business

47

booklist Grab Customer Attention and Keep It by Dianna Brodine, managing editor, Plastics Business

development

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

news.......................................... 34

association................................. 24

supplier directory...................... 50

8

Cover photo courtesy of Matrix Plastic Products

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 Tim Capps, Par 4 Plastics Inc. Treasurer Samir Patel, Midwest Molding Inc. Secretary and Counsel Alan Rothenbuecher, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP

MAPP Board Members Steve Bieszczat, IQMS Jim Bott, INCOE Brendan Cahill, PTG Silicones Craig Carrel, Team 1 Plastics, Inc. Rich Dorans, PTA Plastics Jim Eberle, MXL Industries Glen Fish, Revere Plastics Systems LLC Norm Forest, Dymotek Molding Technologies Chris Gedwed, Cosmetic Specialties International Jim Kepler, Intertech Plastics Tom Nagler, Natech Plastics, Inc. Derrill Rice, Plastic Components, Inc. Missy Rogers, Noble Plastics, Inc. Tom Tredway, Erie Molded Plastics, Inc. Adam Wachter, Engineered Profiles LLC Scott Walton, Harbour Results Tom Wood, E-S Plastic Products

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 Nancy Cates Lara Copeland

Art Director Becky Arensdorf Graphic Designer Kelly Adams

Circulation Manager Brenda Schell

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 5


VIEWPOINT

Where Leaders Most Often Fail

O

n a Friday night in the fall of 1982, my high school football team was being beaten by a much-detested rival. My frustrations were high, as nothing seemed to be going our way. After stopping the opponent deep in their own territory and forcing a punting situation, I took what I would call a “cheap shot” (hit after the whistle) from an opposing player and responded physically. As often happens, my actions were the only ones seen by the official, resulting in a yellow flag and a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. As I was running off the field, my coach, Dale Doffler, grabbed my facemask with his left hand and aggressively slapped the side of my helmet with his right hand. “Nix!” he screamed, “What you are doing? You are the team captain. You better get your head straight and start leading the way you were taught. You just let me down!”

feedback to those in my organization. In fact, the majority of leaders in my training class rated themselves at or below average in this area. One tool that military leaders use to provide feedback is a formal After Action Review (AAR) – a debriefing process for analyzing what happened, why it happened and how it can be done better. The goal of an AAR is to capture and share knowledge from every participant’s perspective at every level, which promotes learning.

“You just let me down!” The coach’s words reverberate just as loudly today as they did nearly 40 years ago. I was crushed to hear his feedback. He was a great coach and leader. A motivator. A person who inspired me. Someone who cared for me. And, I let him down. So many lessons can be learned from this interchange, the foundation of which began three years prior to this game with the development of a relationship between coach and player. There obviously is not enough room in my letter to explain all of the lessons learned while playing for Coach Doffler, but one thing that was consistent was his ability to provide useful feedback. Not all of it was as stern, but you can guarantee it all was timely. I share this story with you because one of the most important aspects of being a leader is providing feedback. Yet, the action of providing appropriate feedback is what drastically separates good leaders from the really great ones. MAPP’s board of directors and I recently had the opportunity to attend the association’s new Battle Tested Leadership program on the grounds of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Seasoned military leaders – most of whom had experienced multiple combat tours – developed and delivered the actual training. Of the many tremendously important topics covered during the two-day time span, providing critical feedback to employees and peers was one that enamored me. I quickly discovered during the crosstalk sessions on feedback that I am not alone in my struggle to provide timely and critical

6 | plastics business • 2020 Issue 1

During our one-month follow-up progress meeting for those who attended the Battle Tested Leadership training, the vast majority of MAPP board members already had indoctrinated the use of the AAR process for teams and individuals in their companies. In fact, nearly 100% of the attendees had set goals to improve the way they handle providing feedback to their employees; I was one of them! While it is difficult to give good feedback, the ability to do so is truly invaluable. The Harvard Business Review recently discovered that all generations of people prefer to receive constructive feedback, delivered skillfully, than any other variety of feedback – including compliments. In other words, people would rather receive feedback that helps them improve over praise that doesn’t. As I think about Coach Doffler in that 1982 football game and review the December training at West Point, I have realized that Tom Landry was right. A great leader and true coach “… is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.”

Executive Director, MAPP


DEVELOPMENT

Nationally Funded Program Offers Assistance to Manufacturers by Dianna Brodine, managing editor, Plastics Business

F

ighting global competition requires resources that may be beyond the reach of small- to midsize manufacturing companies. As far back as 1962, the US government attempted to level the playing field with the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) program. According to a 2017 Congressional Research Report, “The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) programs were first authorized by Congress in the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to help workers and firms adapt to import competition and dislocation caused by trade liberalization… TAAF provides technical assistance to help trade-impacted firms make strategic adjustments to improve their global competitiveness.” Eleven TAAF centers across the US work with manufacturing companies to develop and implement projects that strengthen their organizations and increase their competitiveness. But, many plastics processors have never heard of it – and the Great Lakes Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (GLTAAC) wants that to change.

Matching funds for development through TAAF

“We’re one of 11 centers around the country, and we manage the Michigan-Ohio-Indiana region,” said Scott Phillips, senior project manager for GLTAAC. “We are part of the Economic

8 | plastics business • 2020 Issue 1

Growth Institute at the University of Michigan, and we’re funded by the US Department of Commerce.” As Phillips explained, the TAAF program has been around since the early 1970s, but its reach has always been small. “We typically work with one to two dozen new companies a year,” he said, “and across the US, all the centers together usually are working with 500 to 600 companies in total.” Nationally, the program is funded in an amount that has ranged from $12 million to $16 million per year. The program is open to all types of companies, and though almost all are in manufacturing, the predominant type of manufacturing served by the TAAF centers varies based on location. “The centers are structured so that the companies accepted into the program can get the specific type of assistance that is needed,” explained Phillips. “In our area, we work with mold makers, plastics processors, and tool and die manufacturers. In the northwest, the center may work with more salmon fishers or in Texas, it could be small food processors.” Phillips, whose job is focused on outreach, works to find companies that fit the program and can meet three criteria for qualification, based on level of sales, level of employment and the degree to which imports have impacted the company. First, sales must be down 5% over a recent period of time. Second,


employment head count must be down 5% over the same period of time. Finally, evidence must be presented that shows the impact of competitive imports. “Typically, that means the company must show that the purchase volume of at least four customers is down,” Phillips explained. “We need to speak to two of them, and at least one of them must validate the fact that purchases are down because they’ve been resourced to an offshore company. “In a five-minute phone call, we can almost always figure out if a company is eligible because the criteria are pretty straightforward,” he continued. Once the company has taken the first steps toward qualification, GLTAAC submits a petition on its behalf for review in Washington, DC. GLTAAC also makes a site visit to talk with the client and perform an assessment of the business. “We work with the company to decide on the best way to use $150,000 over five years,” explained Phillips. “Half of that – $75,000 – is a grant from the program to match $75,000 in funds from the company.”

Helping manufacturers compete

TAAF is designed to meet the needs of the manufacturer, so its funding parameters are fairly broad. “If you’re a small company and all of a sudden you’re confronted with additional foreign competition, you probably don’t have the internal capabilities to Bamar Plastics has brought on two new customers as a result of the innovations funded by TAAF. Photos courtesy of Monica Brazier Photography.

deal with it,” said Phillips. “The program allows manufacturers to bring in outside service providers to build their capabilities and competitiveness.” Examples of projects to be undertaken could include sales lead generation, market research aimed at diversification into new markets, productivity improvements, ERP or MES implementation, management training, succession planning and more. Capital expenditures are one limitation – equipment and building additions cannot be funded. GLTAAC staff help companies assess where best to focus their efforts. “When we go in to create a spending plan, we begin with a site assessment,” said Paul Crossley, senior project manager. “We look at all functional areas: management, sales and marketing, financial, production and support services, such as human resources and information technology.” The assessment includes interviews with company leadership to help form a high-level picture. As the plan develops, follow-up calls with department heads and other staff members occur to help GLTAAC dig deep into what the company is doing and where the opportunities are for improvement. “Part of what we do is help companies figure out what they need to do, what they have the internal capabilities to do and where they need outside help,” said Phillips. Crossley added, “Our function is to come in and help them define what is needed. We’ll make recommendations based on what we page 10 u

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 9


DEVELOPMENT t page 9 see, but ultimately the company decides what they want to do. Our function is to provide information based on our experience.” Once a plan is finalized, it must be submitted for approval. Then implementation mode begins. The program allows five years to identify the scope of work, chose an outside solution provider and create a three-way contract between the solution provider, TAAF and the client. Before the contract can be finalized, parameters for the outside provider must be met, including proof of outside expertise, a set project duration and the definition of clear deliverables. As the project progresses, the plan is able to adjust. “We are working with distressed companies,” said Phillips. “A plan that is developed today may not be perfectly meaningful and useful a year later. We have up to two years to redesign the plan as the company’s needs change.”

Bamar Plastics benefits from TAAF

Bamar Plastics is a precision custom injection molder located in South Bend, Indiana. Family-owned since 1978, Bamar learned about the TAAF program during a chance meeting while exhibiting at a tradeshow.

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The program is designed as a dollar-fordollar cost share for services – bringing in services we probably wouldn't have spent money on. “When I came on staff five years ago, this company was in the red,” said Heather Meixel, CEO and president. “Bamar had lost a ton of its original business to China, and we were hurting.” Bamar had always exhibited at the Buy Indiana Expo, and one of the people who stopped by the booth was a longtime member of the injection molding industry. He introduced Meixel to the program, and she immediately saw the possibilities – even though she was a little surprised it wasn’t more well known. “The program has been around for over 30 years,” Meixel said. “I grew up in this industry, and I’ve never heard of it.” Once qualified for the program, Bamar chose to focus on four projects: a website update, an IATF compliance program, lead generation and IT infrastructure. “We worked for a few months to get through the initial introductions, and then we had to find the things that would add value to us,” said Meixel. “After that, we had to establish a scope of work for these different outside companies. That forced my management team to sit down and figure out exactly who was going to do the work for us and how they were going to do it. We had to decide on measurables and communicate what we were trying to get out of this. I can’t tell you the domino effect of benefits that happen when people start talking about the scope of a project in a way that helps them understand the goal.” When working with the TAAF program, the manufacturing company is able to choose its own outside vendors. “The most important part is the cultural fit between the company and the consultant,” said Phillips. “Some companies already know a consultant and have a prior relationship. However, some companies don’t have that knowledge or previous relationship, so we can provide three or four potential providers if needed.” Crossley added, “There’s a due diligence process, and our function is to oversee that, but we’ll defer to the company unless we see a mismatch.”

For more information, please contact Alan Rothenbuecher at arothenbuecher@beneschlaw.com or 216.363.4436.

10 | plastics business • 2020 Issue 1

Once the scope of work had been finalized and the consultants identified, the project implementation began.


“Bamar was in a position where the company could accept more business,” said Crossley. “My focus was on helping them with lead generation. We began with a prospecting firm that would go in and meet the prospective client, understand their needs and really do a lot of the leg work associated with drumming up business. We also had an IT firm come in and help them with some of the day-to-day IT management issues.” The site assessment process gave Meixel and her team time to think about what processes were effective uses of their time. “Just like payroll, IT is a service that can be offloaded,” she said. “I wish we had done it sooner. And now, everything we can subcontract, we subcontract.” Meixel also hired a woman-owned start-up to redesign Bamar’s website. “The program is designed as a dollar-for-dollar cost share for services – bringing in services we probably wouldn’t have spent money on,” she said. “It not only helped with Bamar’s visibility and marketing, it helped further my goal of helping local small businesses. It helped me plug into things that are important to me, like hiring start-ups in our community.”

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By freeing up resources and bringing in outside expertise, the TAAF program works to give manufacturers an advantage by letting them focus on the daily work. Crossley commented, “There are only so many hours in a day, and these small companies need boots on the ground. GLTAAC helps these companies on many levels in a strategic way, but we also help them with outside resources to give their management team the time to do the strategic work.” GLTAAC tracks data to show that the work it does is impactful and helps companies stay in business. “We have a 97% five-year survival rate,” said Phillips. “We track sales and employment – our companies typically have significant sales and employment growth while in the program and after.” Meixel has seen the results at Bamar Plastics. “We’ve brought on two new customers directly because of our involvement with the program,” she said. “For us, that’s huge.” “There are no downsides to this program,” she continued, “and that’s very unusual for me to say! I’m not easily sold. But this program is painless, and I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t be interested in it.” n

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OUTLOOK

Molders are Looking Forward with 20/20 Vision of the Year Ahead by Cynthia Kustush, contributing writer, Plastics Business

I

t can be difficult to put a finger on the pulse of US manufacturing. For so long it has ebbed and flowed, influenced by many factors including the price of oil, tax and trade policies, workforce development (or the lack thereof) and even disease and natural disaster events here and abroad.

competitive devaluations and targeting exchange rates, while significantly increasing transparency and providing mechanisms for accountability. This approach is unprecedented in the context of a trade agreement and will help reinforce macroeconomic and exchange rate stability.”

One notable influencing factor is the recently ratified US-MexicoCanada trade agreement (USMCA). According to The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), key provisions included in the agreement include stronger and more effective protections for the intellectual property rights of US innovators and creators. This includes the most comprehensive enforcement provisions ever laid out in any trade agreement.

It is too soon to gain any meaningful data on how the new USMCA agreement will influence US manufacturing. Still, there is much optimism, as demonstrated by a few MAPP member companies that Plastics Business reached out to for a read on the pulse of their businesses now and in the coming months.

Additionally, the USTR states in its trade fact sheet the following: “The new Digital Trade chapter contains the strongest disciplines on digital trade of any international agreement, providing a firm foundation for the expansion of trade and investment in the innovative products and services where the United States has a competitive advantage.” The renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) also includes a key chapter focusing on currency issues, saying that it will “address unfair currency practices by requiring high-standard commitments to refrain from

12 | plastics business • 2020 Issue 1

Embracing healthy growth

For Tammy Barras, president of Westec Plastics Corp. (Livermore, California), the fact that the company recently celebrated 50 years in business and continues to grow and improve is proof enough to support an optimistic outlook for 2020. The company currently employs 78, she says, and includes a full, in-house toolroom, a large secondary operations department, 20 injection molding machines and three levels of cleanroom capabilities. “We have a very diverse customer base with products in defense, agriculture and consumer products,” she added. “Currently, we are focusing our attention on the medical and biotech markets.”


Barras says her company is very customer driven, with a culture that embraces its motto: “Your Concept, Our Expertise, One Partnership.” In that vein, Westec Plastics has rebranded itself, complete with an updated logo and website and a new marketing strategy. “We’ve focused on increasing our technology and services to best serve our customers,” Barras said. “We’ve added laser engraving, vibration welding, additional ultrasonic welding capabilities and an ISO Class 7 secondary operations cleanroom.” This expansion in capabilities, she explained, will serve to overcome what she says is the company’s biggest ongoing challenge – bringing in new projects from new and existing customers.

Automation offers an advantage

Like Westec Plastics, Noble Plastics (Grand Coteau, Louisiana), also has enjoyed healthy growth year over year, according to President Missy Rogers, P.E., a mechanical engineer who serves on the MAPP board of directors. Noble Plastics is a custom molder and automation integrator, with 50 employees operating within a more than 100,000-square-foot facility. Rogers says her company provides molding services to customers in the defense, oil and gas, and industrial markets with a focus on engineered resins, while automation clients have roots in manufacturing, packaging and palletizing.

analyses. The company employs 90 people, including secondand third-generation family members who are involved in several key areas of the business. Anne M. Ziegenhorn, sales and marketing manager, said, “Technology is becoming more readily available, less costly and more capable all the time. We continue to integrate more cameras, sensors and robotics on our production lines, and over time we expect to see these benefits pushing down to our lowervolume programs where, historically, it has been difficult to justify the ROI.” Matrix recently invested in its first seven-axis collaborative robot, or “cobot” – a Productive Robotics OB7, for loading and unloading a complex, vertical overmolding application. “We also hired a full-time automation engineer to oversee these ongoing projects,” she added. “Our 42 years of expertise in moldmaking and design continues to be a distinct advantage when providing DFM guidance to our customers,” she said. “Roughly 85 percent of our business is for the medical device market, and the rest is a mix of safety, page 14 u

“The trend we are seeing is more growth in automation systems than molding,” Rogers said. The company currently employs six on its automation team and offers the design and development of robotic systems for such tasks as machine tending, product inspection, secondary operations and more. They also design and build custom robotic machinery when customers require something more or different than what is commercially available elsewhere. At Matrix Plastic Products (Wood Dale, Illinois), automation and advancing technologies are central to the company’s continued growth, particularly when it comes to assisting customers during the R&D phase of projects to guide them through design for manufacturing (DFM)

Matrix Plastic Products recently invested in its first seven-axis collaborative robot. Photo courtesy of Matrix Plastic Products.

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 13


OUTLOOK t page 13 electronics, personal care and other critical applications in our ‘medium to micro’ sweet spot and molding press range of 20 tons to 300 tons.” The company also offers “surgical precision” assembly of molded components, something they credit to their expertise in building closetolerance molds, including micro molds. Asked about the biggest challenge Matrix is facing in the coming year, Ziegenhorn said that, hands down, it is where to expand its facility. “Our growth over the past several years has created a need for more physical space, Westec Plastics Corp. houses a full, in-house toolroom, a large secondary operations department, 20 injection molding and unfortunately, we are machines and three levels of cleanroom capabilities. Photo courtesy of Westec Plastics Corp. landlocked in our current location. Since another building addition is not an option, we will be continuing our seasoned employees, which is an ongoing challenge with which many manufacturers can sympathize. search for a larger facility this year.” In addition to the facility expansion, she said that training and recruiting experienced talent to keep up with the growth factor will continue to be a challenge, “especially with the fast pace at which our customers are moving.” Matrix has a successful in-house training program, but she says it is difficult to keep up the pace of business without also finding and hiring more

Looking ahead, opportunity awaits

The optimism shown by Westec Plastics, Noble Plastics and Matrix Plastic Products is almost palpable. Each company is looking at the coming year with 20/20 vision (pun intended) page 16 u

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OUTLOOK t page 14 and charging forward with further plans that will enable them to continue growing in size and capabilities. For example, Westec’s Barras shared that the biggest opportunity for 2020 has been a long time coming. “The last three years have been the most profitable years that Westec has had since the 1980s,” she said. “I think there has been a lot of confidence in the marketplace.” She explained that Westec is embracing this confidence and will expand its building size by adding 9,200 square feet of production space. “We’re bringing in two-shot molding this year to support customer programs as well,” she added. Noble Plastics’ Rogers said she and her husband, Scott, technical director, will work to “continue the maturing of our Industry 4.0 platform for our manufacturing business.” As for Matrix, Ziegenhorn said automation and technology will continue to play a role in opening up “huge opportunities,” including connecting equipment (Industry 4.0) via its enterprise resource management (ERP) system, collecting and analyzing

Technology is becoming more readily available, less costly and more capable all the time. We continue to integrate more cameras, sensors and robotics on our production lines. data at each level of production, automating inspection processes, reducing labor requirements and so on. “We also will need to carefully plan for the buildup of inventory and the timely re-validation of all our medical programs,” she continued. “We're also excited about a number of new, key medical programs that are wrapping up validation and nearing full production launch, so we are anticipating that 2020 will be a great year for us.” n

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TRAINING

Using a Web-based Document Control and Training Platform at Automation Plastics

T

ribal knowledge, information that is known within a specific group of people and not often known outside of that circle, can be both beneficial and damaging for any manufacturing company. The wisdom and capabilities that specific employees possess can produce exceptional results that are not achievable for others. However, if these employees retire, quit or don’t come to work for any number of reasons, it may be catastrophic for business. Thankfully, losing that specialized, technical information about a product or process can be prevented. Automation Plastics, Aurora, Ohio, is doing this by utilizing a web-based document control and training platform.

Capturing tribal knowledge

The system chosen by Automation – Dozuki – supports continuous improvement and empowers manufacturers. “The purpose of this technology is to capture tribal knowledge in a system where any individual can be trained correctly on any shift – removing inconsistences, providing standard workflow and increasing engagement of employees,” explained Chris Miller, plant engineering manager at the Ohio company. “The system features a format for building work instructions, tracking or training, version control and integration of existing documents,” he continued. For the first four years of content development, Automation’s Dozuki leadership team met biweekly to address standard guide format, training, technology and tablet needs. Miller reported that by the fifth year, the team felt comfortable enough to meet monthly. The leadership team is made of up cross-department managers and its two Dozuki administrators, who manage all content, users, teams, approval processes and ISO compliance with the

18 | plastics business • 2020 Issue 1

by Lara Copeland, contributing editor, Plastics Business standard work software company. The team is responsible for directing content development and assigning authors to create guides that are used in all aspects of training and process documentation. The assigned authors can make changes within the guides, including attaching and embedding pictures, video, PDFs and XMLs. Once authors create and import content into the standardized format, the process guides are moved into an approval process. All guides are examined by the Dozuki administrators and forwarded for review by appropriate departments. The approval process generates an email to the designated approver with a link to the guide. The guide is either accepted or rejected and, once it has finished the approval process, the revision is instantly distributed across teams, shifts and locations. Just a few years ago, Automation Plastics used a combination of an ERP system and Microsoft Office programs for training, documentation of competency and work guidance. Unfortunately, this combination created a weakness in control of paper documentation. According to Miller, many of the documents had outdated revisions accompanied by handwritten notes. “Personnel had conflicting information, and timely change to work guidance was lacking. We had insufficient communication to affected personnel, and tribal knowledge took precedence over documented procedures,” he noted. These challenges provided much frustration for the company’s work guidance authors. “We had two people in charge of documents that were scattered all over our in-house server, originating from six generations of document control managers,” page 20 u


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Miller confessed. To remedy the situation, various on-site and cloud-based document control and training platforms were explored. “In the end, we felt that Dozuki not only offered the best value, but it also provided many advantages, such as ease of use, standardized format, ISO compliance, user control, document control and training features, and support from its customer success team,” he said. Automation started a trial in July 2015 and purchased a contract by the end of that year.

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The benefits of using this platform have been felt by the company and its customers alike. “Internally, the system has helped us reduce variation on the way we perform tasks, improve the quality of our products and create meaningful communication and feedback among all levels in our organization,” Miller said. It also has assisted with internal and external audits. “All the information is right at the employees’ fingertips,” he explained. “Tablets were placed at presses and computers throughout the company so that an employee can answer the auditor within mere seconds.” Miller also confirmed the document control system has helped by removing the wait time that used to occur when it was necessary to contact a specific employee at the company to find, research or answer a customer’s questions. Additionally, the system is accessible via mobile devices, so a company’s site can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Automation Plastics had about 100 employees to train once the system was implemented. “It felt like it took a year before everyone was fully competent and comfortable using it daily,” Miller stated. He also mentioned that some people simply were not comfortable with the technology. To combat the discomfort and unfamiliarity, the company held plant-wide training sessions as part of the onboarding process, and individual sessions were provided for those who needed extra help.

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Due to what Miller calls “passionate, involved and intelligent employees” at Dozuki, he plans to continue utilizing this technology. Employees have recently started using the latest system feature, Courses. This training platform is specifically


designed to document training activities and evaluate employee competency. A course is composed of a group of guides and is assigned to certain users who have a specified number of days to complete the guides in the course. When a user finishes a work log session for a guide or reads and certifies completion of a guide, completion has been achieved. The administrators can track the completion status for each assigned user, and they can set these courses to expire based on time criteria or whenever a new version of a guide in the course is published. One example of a training module created for Automation Plastics requires any individual working with ladders or any type of elevated work to complete the course titled, “Personnel Lift Training and Elevated Work.” “This course is comprised of ladder and lift safety and elevated work, complete with a competency test within the guide and a field test with a safety coordinator to certify the individual is competent,” Miller explained. All documents and training forms are maintained within the Dozuki platform.

The purpose of this technology is to capture tribal knowledge in a system where any individual can be trained correctly on any shift. document control system. Typically, these are created in Excel on the company’s server. “Having all guide content and training in Dozuki, with matrices and training modules in another platform, seemed cumbersome,” Miller noted. “Creating a matrix directly within Dozuki easily identifies who needs training and when training was completed.” Assigning, tracking and viewing training competency with one platform is ideal for the company. After all, it only takes a short amount of time to create a new user, assign the user to a training course and track the training. This allows department managers to quickly see training progress throughout the organization. n

Going forward, one of Automation Plastics’ goals in 2020 is for the administrators to create matrices directly within the

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 21


BENCHMARKING

Forecasts are Changing for Plastics Manufacturers in 2020 by Ashley Turrell, membership & analytics director, MAPP

F

ourth-quarter indicators are down, nearly across the board, for plastics processors. Company leaders are reporting slowing sales, lower quoting activity and shrinking profit margins to round out the end of 2019. This stands in stark contrast to the sentiments and data shared just one year ago, according to the recently published 2020 State of the Plastics Industry by the Manufacturers Association of Plastics Processors (MAPP). The State of the Plastics Industry has been a staple report in the plastics community for the last 20 years. Generated by inputs from nearly 200 plastics industry leaders, the report examines fourth-quarter trends, first-quarter and 12-month outlooks, as well as resin pricing, capital expenditures, challenges and operational changes. This data allows company leaders to benchmark how their organizations compare to the rest of the industry. This year’s report reveals that only 37% of plastics companies experienced increased sales in the final quarter of the year, while 39% reported sales had decreased. These numbers reflect the lowest percentage of processors reporting fourth-quarter growth since 2005. Of the 37% that reported increases in fourth-quarter sales, 67% indicate that this is due to new programs or volume increases with current customers and 22% say this increase is largely in part to securing new customers. As sales slow for plastics companies, so do employment levels. The average fourth-quarter workweek decreased for 30% of manufacturers (compared to 13% last year), and the number of production employees also fell for 32% of companies (compared to 13% in Q4 2018.). In tracking employment levels for the last 20 years, the last time this higher percentage of companies was reporting decreasing workweeks and production employee levels was in 2008. However, companies are ramping up slightly as they head into the first quarter of 2020, with 30% of leaders indicating workweeks will increase and 62% reporting that they will remain the same.

22 | plastics business • 2020 Issue 1

Similar trends in production employee levels also are predicted for the first part of the new year. Of course, lowered production employee levels may in part be due to the ever-continuing challenge of finding qualified workers. In looking at the top 10 challenges facing plastics companies in 2020, workforce remains number one – with 100% of companies listing it as one of the top three challenges they need to address in the next 12 months. This continues a long trend of workforce development challenges plaguing plastics leaders – as it has been ranked in the top three challenges for the last nine years. Not surprisingly, new business development was in the spotlight for improvement in the new year. Many processors are looking to not only grow sales, but also are focusing on diversifying their markets and customer base. On average, about 20% of a plastics company’s customers make up about 80% of the company’s


total revenue. This leaves companies in precarious positions, especially those with a large focus in uncertain or volatile markets, should customers begin to pull back on orders or look for other suppliers. For the first time in several years, worries about the economy (both at home and overseas) and tariffs on tooling appear high on the list of challenges reported by plastics leaders. Approximately 83% of companies serve customers in at least one other country, which means leaders are spending more time and energy focusing on the economic conditions not only in the United States, but across the globe as well. Adding to this, about 70% of plastics companies are pushing their tooling overseas – 90% of which is acquired from China. While plastics executives are stating that they haven’t felt the impact of tariffs yet, they are anticipating future negative impact. To combat this, they are working with their overseas vendors for price reductions or negotiating with their current customers to share the burden of tariffs. Sixteen percent of executives did indicate that they were looking to shift some mold purchasing back the United States.

Looking into the rest of the first quarter and the next 12 months, processors are anticipating a more optimistic, if cautiously optimistic, environment than what was seen at the end of 2019. Capital expenditure plans are expected to increase or remain the same as previous years as processors invest primarily in primary machines, automation and equipment upkeep. On average, companies are anticipating the investment of about $1.2 million in capital expenditures over the next 12 months. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed are projecting an increase in sales throughout the year. Companies anticipating 2020 sales increases are budgeting for an average 10% jump over the next 12 months. With companies believing the biggest impact on their organizations will come from continuous improvement initiatives, strategic sales plans and a large focus on automation across the board (from production through assembly and warehouse), it seems that company leaders expect to combat the troubles of 2019 (lower margins, competition and lack of labor) and continue the 10-year high that has been experienced throughout the industry. n More information: www.mappinc.com

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 23


association

MAPP Announces 2020 Plant Tours and Events MAPP has announced the dates for plant tours and other events in 2020. Plant tours are key events for MAPP members and allow the opportunity for plastics processors 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 events to all processors in addition to specialty plant tours for industry young professionals. MAPP also has planned several other forum events for continuing education and networking for members. MAPP Plant Tours • April 1-2 – Falcon Plastics, Brookings, South Dakota • August 6 – D&M Plastics, Burlington, Illinois MAPP Plant Tours and Events for Young Professionals • February 13 – Innovative Plastics, Madison, Alabama • May 28 – Polymer Conversions, Orchard Park, New York • July 22-24 – Leadership Experience, Cleveland, Ohio • September 10 – Plastics Components, Inc., and Strohwig Industries, Germantown, Wisconsin Other events • March 11 & 12 – Quality Management Forum, Oxford, Connecticut • March 18-20 – Thayer Leadership Program, West Point, New York • May 20-21 – EHS Summit, Cleveland, Ohio • June 18 – Sales Process Forum, Erie, Pennsylvania • October 20-22, 2020 Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference, Indianapolis, Indiana Learn more about these upcoming events and register at www.mappinc.com/events. 2020 State of the Plastics Industry Now Available MAPP’s State of the Industry Report was created to answer the most commonly asked question between business leaders: “How is your business doing?” The State of the Industry Report involves the collection of data from hundreds of plastics manufacturing executives. This study benchmarks the performance of these companies to industry norms and reveals details and trends about: • Sales forecasts • Quoting and backlog • Offshoring and reshoring • Material pricing trends • Profitability

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The 2020 State of the Plastics Industry now is available for purchase on the MAPP website. This 60-page report details more than three dozen economic indicators – covering 2019 industry performance and 2020 plastics industry forecasts. With input from nearly 200 plastics companies across the country, this annual report, now in its 20th 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, offshoring, customer demands, raw material pricing, employment levels, capital expenditures and profitability. The 2020 State of the Plastics Industry Report and the Discussion Guide are both available for purchase at www.mappinc.com. MAPP Welcomes New Members MAPP is proud to welcome the following plastics organizations into the MAPP network: • 3M Company (Nebraska) – Valley, Nebraska • AY McDonald Industries – Cuba City, Wisconsin • Beaumont Advanced Processing – Erie, Pennsylvania • D.A. Inc. (Indiana) – Charlestown, Indiana • Grand Traverse Plastics Corp. – Williamsburg, Michigan • Keter Plastics – Anderson, Indiana • Nolato Contour – Baldwin, Wisconsin • Permian Plastics – O’Fallon, Missouri • Plascene – Oxnard, California • Seitz Corporation – Torrington, Connecticut • The Plastek Group – Hamlet – Hamlet, North Carolina MAPP Names New Board Slate for 2020 The Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP) has announced the appointment of five new members to its Board of Directors. The incoming slate of new board members bring a wealth of leadership and experience to MAPP. Joining the Board of Directors are Rich Dorans, PTA Plastics; Jim Bott, INCOE; Adam Wachter, Engineered Profiles; Tom Wood, E-S Plastic Products LLC; and Scott Walton, Harbour Results, Inc. The MAPP Board of Directors is composed of 20 plastics industry executives, from plastics companies across all area of the United States and with diverse backgrounds in the industry. Having industry leaders participate on the MAPP board allows


the organization to continue its mission of being an association for plastics processors, run by plastics processors. The slate of board members for 2020 is as follows: • Tom Nagler, Natech Plastics Inc. • Craig Carrel, Team 1 Plastics • Tim Capps, Par 4 Plastics Inc. • Missy Rogers, Noble Plastics Inc. • Alan Rothenbuecher, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP • Norm Forest, Dymotek Molding Technologies • Tom Tredway, Erie Molded Plastics, Inc. • Christopher Gedwed, Cosmetic Specialties International • Glen Fish, Revere Plastics Systems, LLC • Brendan Cahill, PTG Silicones • Samir Patel, Midwest Molding Inc. • Jim Eberle, MXL Industries, Inc. • Jim Kepler, Intertech Plastics, Inc. • Derrill Rice, Plastic Components, Inc. • Steve Bieszczat, IQMS • Rich Dorans, PTA Plastics • Jim Bott, INCOE • Adam Wachter, Engineered Profiles LLC • Tom Wood, E-S Plastic Products LLC • Scott Walton, Harbour Results Inc.

Save the Date: 2020 Environmental, Health and Safety Summit Save the date for the annual Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Summit, to be held May 20 and 21, 2020, in its new location, Cleveland, Ohio. This is a unique event focused on helping manufacturing companies achieve world-class safety. 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. Visit www.mappinc. com to learn more about this event and register. Benchmarking Available for Corrective and Preventive Action Plans The 2020 Corrective and Preventive Action Plan Benchmarking was designed by MAPP members seeking to understand the corrective action procedures throughout the industry. This benchmarking includes data on what initiates a corrective action plan, time dedicated to corrective action, average response and completion times, and how tracking and metrics are displayed and communicated. Additionally, this report helps processors

benchmark how many corrective actions are completed each year, how tasks are managed, the most common issues, follow-up processes and management involvement in correction action plans. New Leadership Programming for 2020: Thayer Leadership Program The Thayer Leadership Program is an immersive, exclusive and interactive experience designed exclusively for MAPP. This onsite 3-day experience includes an assortment of applied academic classroom modules, interactive experiential sessions, mentoring with expert faculty, networking time with other participants and inspirational speakers. Held March 18 through 20, 2020, at the Military Academy at West Point, New York, the event focuses on mid- to senior-level leaders from across the plastics industry who want proven, practical tools to be a more effective leader. Attendees say: “One of the most rewarding things we have ever done...” – Alan Rothenbuecher, Benesch “Wow, what an experience on so many levels!” – Derrill Rice, Plastic Components Inc. “An amazing experience that I can’t wait to share with others.” – Mike Benson, Stout “Wow, I'm so pumped from that experience!” – Thomas Nagler, Natech Plastics Registration is limited to 35 participants. Find more details at mappinc.com/events. MAPP Releases Information Systems Management Report The Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP) recently conducted its benchmarking study on information systems for the plastics industry, resulting in MAPP's newest report: Information Systems Management. This report dives into trends, strategies and plans for IT in the plastics manufacturing industry. The results include IT strategy, investments, software, hardware, ERP systems, cloud usage, cybersecurity and future planning. This year’s report highlights major investments and changes occurring in the plastics world as it relates to managing information systems. In preparing this report, the MAPP benchmarking team did additional outside research and sought out best practices. These outside findings will be included within this document as a means to provide IT leaders with additional expert advice. For more information and to purchase this report, visit www.mappinc.com. n

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 25


TALENT

Young Professionals Network Filling Leadership Gap by Lara Copeland, contributing editor, Plastics Business

L

eadership development is crucial for any industry. Future success or failure is dependent on how effectively young talent is equipped with the necessary tools to one day assume a leadership role. Yet, many companies do not have a leadership talent development program in place. Industry associations are stepping into the gap to help members prepare their younger employees. The Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP) is one such association, launching the YP (young professionals) Network in 2017. “At that time, the lack of participation from the younger generation was apparent at most MAPP events,” explained Ashley Turrell, MAPP membership and analytics director. She said that even though up-and-coming leaders in the industry existed and were interested in participating, there just wasn’t a focus on engaging that demographic. Due to rapid changes in manufacturing methodologies and an aging workforce, a heightened sense of urgency to prepare young professionals for leadership roles permeates the industry. “We often talk about the ‘Accidental Supervisor’ phenomenon, where people who are great at their job get put in charge of projects, people, teams or whole departments, but end up not being great leaders,” Turrell shared. And so, the YP Network was launched.

Creating an engaging program

The association wanted the young professionals (YP) group to

26 | plastics business • 2020 Issue 1

be a place where this generation, regardless of their job titles or career level, was provided the opportunity to explore their leadership strengths and areas of challenges. MAPP sees the value in providing the opportunity for the younger generation to learn from others – both senior leaders and peers – how to become more effective in their roles. “Senior executives within MAPP understand the importance and value of being highly engaged in industry associations and creating strong professional bonds through networking and sharing,” Turrell revealed. Creating a space and network for young professionals to connect, find resources that impact them at their career level, and facilitate training and leadership growth spurred MAPP to draft its YP Network initiative. Led by an executive board, YP board members receive board and leadership experience while keeping the group’s goal at the forefront of every event and initiative. As the network grows, Turrell said it has become important to be laser-focused on the group’s vision, “which is to create a community of young leaders with a common goal to encourage one another, propel their respective businesses forward and challenge manufacturers to improve and prepare for the future.” The YP group events are a means to expose young professionals to new places, people and ideas to challenge their thought processes and push them out of their comfort zones. “We look for opportunities where young professionals are forced to speak


YP events expose young professionals to new places, people and ideas – expanding their industry view and providing opportunities to build connections with those in similar roles.

up and be the leaders in the room,” Turrell emphasized, “but we also bring in successful company presidents and owners they can learn from.”

Mentorship

An extension of this idea is one of the group’s newest offerings – available for the first time in 2020 – the mentorship program. “This program provides the opportunity to learn from someone with a vast amount of experience but who is outside of the YP member’s company so these younger industry leaders can start their professional growth,” Turrell remarked. “We also emphasize that ‘leader’ isn’t a title but rather an attitude, and that an individual can lead from any role. Furthermore, ‘leadership’ isn’t a final state, but instead it is an ongoing journey that is engaged in for personal and professional growth.” Every aspect of the group is looking to build up those skills and assist emerging leaders along their journey. Chair of the YP board and Project Committee Zach Bloodworth, is excited for the mentor program to take off. “We want to match young professionals within MAPP with a senior leader to provide a new platform to discuss challenges, ideas, career aspirations and the like,” he explained. Bloodworth is the director of operations for Par 4 Plastics in Marion, Kentucky. MAPP Project Manager Tony Robinson said that both mentees and mentors have filled out surveys voicing what they hope to get out of the relationship. “We see people wanting to learn from the generation above to improve upon weaknesses, see what it takes to run a company and move to the next level in their career,” he remarked. They also want to increase their knowledge base, grow professionally and improve their skills.

He further explained that this program adds a platform for accountability. “You have managers keeping you accountable at work, but typically you don’t have anyone keeping you accountable as far as taking the steps to improve and prepare yourself for the next role you’re interested in,” he said. Acknowledging the disconnect that sometimes may occur between senior leaders and lower-level leaders – or what Robinson identifies informally as millennials and boomers – opportunities exist for the mentors to grow within the relationship, too. The mentors, he said, “want to know how these younger employees operate and what’s important to them, so they know how to best communicate.”

Themed events and initiatives

The group centers nearly everything it orchestrates – aside from the mentorship program – around its quarterly themes. These themes are evaluated and chosen by Robinson and Turrell before they are presented to the YP board for approval. The themes this year are: change management and innovation, communication and persuasion, people management and culture building, and strategic planning and preparing for the future. These themes lend themselves perfectly to one of the group’s newest features – the book club. The book club is a community for people within the YP Network who want to learn how to become more effective and productive manufacturing professionals while reading, networking and participating in group discussions. “Members of the network had mentioned wanting a book club a few times during the past page 28 u

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 27


TALENT t page 27 year. When I joined the MAPP team in August, Ashley and I agreed it was time to get it started,” Robinson noted. About 20 people have signed up for the club and plan to meet once a month in person or through video-conferencing software. “We hope to hammer home as many lessons and takeaways from the books that we can,” he added. The book chosen for the first quarter’s Innovation and Change Management theme is John Kotter’s “Leading Change.” Also following the quarterly theme schedule are the plant tours the YP Network organizes throughout the year. “Being able to see how other companies run their operations is very beneficial to someone – whether experienced or new to a management role – because it broadens their perspective and helps them gain experience,” Robinson said. The 2020 plant tours also will feature a workshop and/or keynote. “For the first quarter, we are looking forward to getting everyone to come together to brainstorm different challenges and solutions to everything that comes with innovation,” he noted. “This is such a big part of manufacturing, and we’re hoping it’ll be beneficial.” Casual and formal peer networking events also are offered before and after the plant tours as a safe zone for everyone to discuss

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It stopped being about networking and really became an opportunity for people to create a vast, lasting network that actually impacts their company’s bottom line. their issues. “They’re sharing their challenges, weaknesses, strengths, career paths or whatever they need to talk about with people outside of their company who may be experiencing similar issues,” Robinson explained. The night before the event, members typically gather in a relaxed environment for dinner. Additionally, a formal networking opportunity is offered immediately following each plant tour. “We offer conversation starters and topics focused on the theme for small groups to discuss,” he said. “Both formats help everyone brainstorm and have proved to be quite valuable to our members.”

Positive changes

Since beginning the YP Network, “We are seeing many more young people getting involved, reaching out and showing a strong eagerness to grow,” Turrell said. She relayed a story about a young man’s perspective after attending his first MAPP event (prior to the formation of the YP group). “He felt out of place and didn’t feel totally comfortable sharing his experience or thoughts because he was surrounded by so many people who were seemingly older, wiser and more experienced,” she said. However, once the YP group was formed and he became an active participant, his outlook changed. “He doesn’t have that feeling anymore because he has a huge pool of peers that he can reach out to,” she added. Turrell said that member companies are urging their young employees to get involved in the association, and she is witnessing the development of important relationships that are impacting members long after an event. “Once we started the YP Network, I had emails coming in from senior leaders asking how they could get their high-potential young professionals involved,” she said. “Not only are the young professionals meeting at quarterly events, they are communicating and problem-solving afterwards.” Recently, a CFO in the group was taking on more humanresource-related responsibilities and reached out to a contact he’d made to help find resources. “It stopped being about networking and really became an opportunity for people to create a vast, page 30 u


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TALENT t page 28 lasting network that actually impacts their company’s bottom line,” Turrell concluded. Bloodworth and his colleague at Par 4 Plastics, Chuck Beavers, have served on the YP board since the group was founded. Bloodworth noted the encouraging side effects witnessed in the industry since the YP Network was established. “Senior leaders show more willingness to loosen the reins a little bit and let some of the young professionals drive improvement within the company and industry,” Bloodworth said. “When they see us benchmarking with other companies and other young professionals – and see us being an integral part in moving the industry forward – they see what our value is.” He further commented that this builds trust between the generations. Beavers agreed and added that their trust provided the younger generation with momentum to continue moving forward and looking for leadership opportunities.

and invested in helping their peers become better as well. As the group continues to grow each month, new opportunities are being explored. “We are focused on core competencies in professional growth to help our YP Network become a catalyst for change in their organizations, in MAPP and in the plastics industry,” she said. Furthermore, Robinson said, “We really want to focus on engagement as we move forward, giving our members the highest quality opportunities.” Bloodworth and Beavers elaborated on this idea, saying, “We want people coming to events, attending webinars and giving input in online forums.” Currently committed to training and preparation to one day assume leadership roles, Beavers said the young professionals are building relationships with people they’re likely to be working with 10 years down the road. “Our group has started preparing ourselves to be the next MAPP board,” he concluded. n

On the horizon

Looking to the future, Turrell envisions a highly engaged collective of young professionals all working to become better

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NEWS Maguire Introduces 100% Injection Coloring Option for Gravimetric Feeder

RJG® and HRSflow Partner to Provide Advanced Process Control Traverse City, Michigan-based RJG®, a provider of injection molding training, technology and resources, and San Polo di Piave, Italy-based hot runner systems producer HRSflow have partnered to provide a process control solution for sequential valve gate control. They conducted a demonstration that included placing sensors in three different-sized cavities of a family mold, and strategically placing temperature sensors. The mold was designed to test the ability of the whole system to withstand difficult process conditions while ensuring optimal part production. The system was first tested through advanced mold filling simulation to establish initial process parameters. Results showed that systematic engineering and simulation efforts, integrated intelligent molding systems and flexible servo-driven hot runner technology greatly minimized the risks associated with a new tool launch. For more information, visit www.rjginc.com and www.hrsflow.com.

Equipment supplier Maguire Products, Inc., based in Aston, Pennsylvania, has introduced a new MGF ™ gravimetric feeder option. This patentpending control system for feeding masterbatch to the injection molding process ensures color uniformity and saves costs by dosing colorant in the injection phase. During the injection molding cycle, about 75% of virgin resin enters the screw during the recovery phase and 25% during injection. Because conventional feeders add color only during recovery, insufficient mixing can occur. This is particularly problematic when shot size approaches screw capacity or when the end product is translucent. In the new 100% Injection Coloring™ system, a special controller on the MGF feeder receives signals from the processing machine in both phases, ensuring that color is added throughout the cycle. For more information, visit www.maguire.com.

M. Holland Signs Distribution Agreement with Henkel M. Holland Company, Northbrook, Illinois, a distributor of thermoplastic resins, announced that the company has onboarded as an authorized distributor of LOCTITE® 3D-branded 3D-printing products from Henkel, a global company in adhesives, sealants and functional coatings. The new agreement will provide M. Holland’s industrial manufacturing clients access to a wider range of 3D-printing materials, including UV-curable silicone elastomeric, ultra-clear, durable, high-impact, high-temperature and general-purpose resins. This agreement marks M. Holland’s first expansion into thermoset materials. Henkel’s complementary product set will help serve M. Holland’s clients with rapidly evolving needs in additive manufacturing. Henkel’s portfolio includes several materials, including LOCTITE® 3D resins, a line designed to produce highly aesthetic parts with finely detailed print resolution. For more information, visit www.mholland.com and www.henkel.com.

34 | plastics business • 2020 Issue 1


iD Additives Names PCS Exclusive iD Eco-Pro 360 Distributor LaGrange, Illinois-based iD Additives, Inc., a supplier of additives to the plastics industry, has named PCS Company of Fraser, Michigan, as its exclusive distributor to injection molders and moldmakers in the US for its iD Eco-Pro 360 rust removal systems. The agreement is effective immediately. iD Additives will continue to sell and market iD Eco-Pro 360 directly for other non-injectionmolding-related rust removal applications, including extrusion, blow molding and non-plastics processes. For more information, visit www.iDAdditives.com.

New Thermolator ® TCUs from Conair Offer Non-Ferrous Cast-Bronze Construction Conair, a producer of auxiliary equipment for plastics processing with corporate offices in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, has announced that the latest Conair Thermolator® temperature-control units (TCUs) offer processors optional non-ferrous construction for all wetted parts, making them highly resistant to corrosion and other problems associated with process water supplies that are untreated, unfiltered or of limited quality. This option now is available in all Thermolator TCUs that use water as coolant. The new product feature includes a cast-bronze pump volute, heater tube, mixing tube and impeller. The combination is designed to deliver longer working life than previous corrosionresistant Thermolator TCU products. Thermolator TCUs with non-ferrous construction can be used with distilled or reverse osmosis water. For more information, visit www.conairgroup.com.

LMSBridge™ App from Routsis Enables Mobile Learning Routsis Training, Dracut, Massachusetts, has launched the new LMSBridge™ app to provide users with an optimal learning experience on mobile devices. Available for both iOS™ and Android™ devices, Routsis Training’s free app optimizes the presentation of plastics training courses on handheld devices. In addition, it provides a unified experience on various devices so that the courses function identically, whether played on Apple iPad™ or a Samsung™ smartphone. This new app also gives Routsis’ RightStart™ customers convenient administrative access to their company’s LMS even while away from their desks. While the app can be downloaded for free, access to Routsis’ training materials requires an existing customer account. For more information, visit www.traininteractive.com. n

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 35


PRODUCTION

Workstation Innovation Results in Safer, More Efficient Organizations by Liz Stevens, contributing writer, Plastics Business

T

he Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP) presented the MAPP Innovation Awards for the fifth year in 2019. The awards, established to recognize innovative solutions to common issues, focused on the following question, “How has your company instituted systems in your facility to make workstations safer, more ergonomic, more efficient and/or improve the organization?” Over 20 final submissions were submitted for voting, and more than 479 industry peers voted to determine the winners. This year’s awards were split into two categories to recognize companies in different sales groups – specifically, those with annual sales under $15 million and those above $15 million. The winners were: Under $15 million category • First Place: Blue Ridge Molding • Second Place: Wadal Plastics • Third Place: Bruin Manufacturing Above $15 million category • First Place: Intertech Medical • Second Place: Plastic Components, Inc. • Third Place: Falcon Plastics – Lexington, Tennessee, location These awards allow MAPP members to benchmark best practices among peer-level companies in the industry, and 20 of the submissions are shared in the 2019 Best Practices Book.

First place winners

Blue Ridge Molding, first place winner in the under $15 million category, detailed its redesign of a workstation layout. The company revamped its original workstation layout – a linear flow in which five workers passed a product from its emergence from the press through assembly and to being boxed for shipment. In the new layout, the product flow has been split into two streams of sub-assembly, with the output of the two streams merged for final assembly, packaging and boxing by a last, single worker. Blue Ridge outfitted the new workstation layout with floor mats, task lighting, supply holders and custom-made tools. The

36 | plastics business • 2020 Issue 1

Blue Ridge Molding, left, and Intertech Medical, right, received MAPP Innovation Awards during the 2019 Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference.

company also created notebooks with clear visual instruction steps, and accompanied the instructions with completed product samples. The company reported that the new layout reduced labor requirements, increased production efficiency, standardized work instructions, improved ergonomics and worker safety, and reduced both the footprint of the workstation and the amount of movement required by the workers. In the above $15 million category, Intertech Medical was voted into first place with its submission describing the creation of a new automated cell for producing and assembling a two-part item: a tray populated with 96 tiny tubes. For this new business venture, Intertech estimated a production volume of 20 million tubes per year, or 212,000 individual tray and tube assemblies. When envisioned as a manual assembly process, the difficulty of hand-placing nearly 100 tiny tubes in each tray and the amount of time required for the task led Intertech to instead imagine an automated process. Intertech’s innovation was to mold the trays in one pass, and then mold tubes with simultaneous automation to pick and place the tubes precisely into a waiting supply of trays. The company’s design includes a Wittmann Battenfeld 818 robot with end-ofarm-tooling with vacuum power to confirm part detection and place the tubes, and additional EOAT functioning to ensure proper seating of the tubes. The design also takes advantage of


a RobotUnits conveyor and Mitsubishi PLC to control conveyor functions.

facility can be expanded with several more machines without the need for additional employees.

In addition to creating an operation that loads the trays with tubes in less than a third of the time that would be required for manual assembly, these medical industry products are produced with zero contamination and no DNA from human interaction. Robotic automation of this cell also minimizes part and mold damage.

Placing third in the above $15 million category, Falcon Plastics (Tennessee) submitted two best practice examples for optimizing operations by adding cobots or robots to perform finishing and assembly at the press. In the case of a strap assembly, Falcon Plastics implemented a cobot to pare the number of employees required at a workstation and eliminate the need for transporting and storing WIP parts.

Second place winners

Wadal Plastics took second place in the under $15 million category with its idea to streamline a molding job that uses precisely placed metal inserts for over-molding. Wadal innovated by adding a vision system to confirm correct placement of the metal inserts (and avoid tool damage), along with an automated gate trimming station, which also confirms that all metal inserts are present and automatically routes the sprue and runner into a grinder. The company reported that its innovation has improved quality, reduced the need for supplemental inspection of parts and slashed production time. The second place winner in the above $15 million category was Plastic Components, Inc. The company created a 20-cell lights out facility – including presses, conveyors, grinders and box fill systems – in a 122'x41' footprint. This facility is not only lights-out and very compact, it also is designed to minimize waste, optimize ergonomics, capitalize on standardization and improve efficiency. The design incorporates automated box fill systems, a mezzanine above the presses from which material is supplied, RJG process monitoring, automatic press shutdown and an overhead crane system. A small crew visits during first shift to restock, make changeovers, and wrap and ship finished goods.

Third place winners

Bruin Manufacturing placed third in the under $15 million category with its Newton, Iowa facility, designed to be as lean and efficient as possible. Bruin created an operation with seven injection machines that operate 24 hours per day and 6 days a week, with only 1.5 employees. All seven machines (Bruin’s proprietary hot runners) are fed raw material via a vacuum system that keeps hoppers full, and each machine feeds its finished products – with the help of automated box changers – toward a centralized cell to be inventoried, labeled and prepped for shipping. Bruin’s design at the Newton

In another instance, Falcon Plastics added a Sawyer robot at the press to handle hot stamping during assembly, thereby reducing labor, ensuring higher quality and eliminating the need to keep WIP inventory on hand.

Wide-ranging innovations demonstrated best practices

The 20 submissions for this year’s MAPP Innovation Award covered a variety of innovation categories, ranging from targeted improvements to sweeping holistic designs. Here’s a breakdown of the innovations and companies. • Innovative Components shared the details and benefits of its cleanup/organizing projects and its adoption of safety vests for anyone who visits the production floor. • Cosmetic Specialties and Noble Plastics offered submissions based on designing superior storage systems for CNC milling tools, and press-side tools and equipment, respectively. • Four companies – Falcon Plastics (South Dakota), Intertech Plastics, Microplastics and Par 4 Plastics – submitted best practices involving the creation of or changes to production or assembly line systems. • PMC Smart Solutions and Wadal Plastics shared insight about incorporating vision systems that improved the companies’ production quality. • Six companies reported the positive benefits of adding cobots to their operations – Falcon Plastics (Tennessee), PolyFlex, Steinwall, Techniplas, Viking Plastics and Wadal Plastics. • Alwin, Blue Ridge Molding, Techniplas and Wisconsin Plastics were the four companies that shared their ingenuity in changing workflows or workstations. • Intertech Medical’s submission revolved around designing an automated workstation. • Both Bruin Manufacturing and Plastic Components Inc. shared details on how holistically designed facilities were imagined, designed and realized. n Learn more: www.mappinc.com

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 37


ECONOMIC CORNER

Let the Good Times Roll – But, for How Long? by Chris Kuehl, managing director, Armada Corporate Intelligence

T

here is a reason that economists are referred to as “dismal scientists.” In the middle of a party, we are the ones who like to remind people that they are going to be hung over the following day. It may be true, but nobody wants to hear it. So it is with the current economic situation. The data that has been coming in thus far in 2020 has exceeded expectations and estimates for GDP growth have been rising, when many assumed it would be tumbling by this point. This leaves us with two related questions. The first: Why is the economy is doing as well as it is? The second: How long can we assume this growth will continue? First, we can review why so many thought the economy would be in trouble by this point. A lot of the gloom and doom stemmed from the expected fallout from the trade war between the US and China, as well as the various other trade wrangles – such as replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), putting tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, and battling Europe over trade and political issues. There was an assumption that commodity prices (especially oil) would rise. Consumers were expected to cool their desires to spend as they faced higher prices, and big sectors – such as automotive and housing – were expected to start shrinking. There has been a little reaction to all of this but not nearly as much as expected.

The China trade war now is in state of truce with the passage of “phase one.” The tariffs on Chinese goods have not been rolled back, but no additional impositions have been placed. China has agreed to buy more from the US, but these purchases have not yet manifested. The promise has been enough to calm markets for now. The US-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement has made it through the US Congress, but now the Canadians and Mexicans are not all that sure about it. Regardless, the US no longer is issuing threats against its northern and southern neighbors. Trade tensions with Europe are present, but there seems no hurry to start a fight. The bottom line is that trade wars have become trade skirmishes and not as critical as had been assumed. Oil prices (and the prices of most other commodities) have not seen big jumps, despite events that should have sent them skyward. A drone attack on the Saudi oil facilities caused a price hike of a few dollars, and it didn’t last. A week of bellicose thundering about an imminent war between the US and Iran fizzled and oil prices fell back again. Prices still are bouncing around in the $60 to $70 range. Oil prices may be the biggest surprise as far as the economy has been concerned this year, and this is obviously of importance to the plastics sector. The oil

38 | plastics business • 2020 Issue 1

market is dominated by the US now – a development that would not have been expected even a decade ago. The US produces more crude than does Saudi Arabia, and US production has more influence on the market than any other state – a big reason there has been little inflation from commodities. Consumers have not retreated and, as long as the unemployment rate remains very low, they likely will stay confident. The retail season was better than expected, with good traffic numbers and solid revenue. The only problem is that profits were less than desired, as the consumer shopped like a commando by zeroing in on the discounted items and shunning everything else. The auto sector had been expected to experience decline in demand by this point, but that has not taken place to any significant degree. Housing has recovered some of its lost momentum, and the sector has started to grow again with higher prices reported by the latest Case-Shiller Index. The fact is that most of the economic indicators have been trending in a positive direction – although not all have been robust, and some already are sending troubling signals. The latest durable goods orders were far better than predicted, but the majority of that movement was due to an increase in spending on defense goods. The Credit Managers’ Index has been stronger than it has been in the last year, and some gains have been seen in the Transportation Activity Index developed by Armada. Transportation is a sector that tends to be a harbinger of things to come, and gains have been shown in both the rail sector and trucking.


The latest GDP numbers have been released, and they are OK but not great. The important thing for the moment is that they are better than was expected a few months ago. The consensus view was that annual GDP would be down to 1.7% or 1.8%, but the data released shows that the fourth quarter rates were at 2.1% and the annual rate was 2.3%. This is not the kind of reading that provokes dancing in the street, but it is a far cry from distressing. With a 2020 start like this, do we have anything to fear in the coming year? Of course, we do. What kind of economist would I be without expressing a depressing alternative? There are three issues that will require lots of attention. These are not the only factors that might spell trouble but are potentially the most disruptive. The first – and by far the most important – is the attitude of the consumer. For the last two to three years, it has been consumption that has carried the day. Business investment was down in the last quarter, manufacturing has been in recession territory and there have been plenty of trade worries, but none of this has slowed the consumer. The warning signal is that consumers slowed more than expected in the fourth quarter, and the confidence surveys are showing more nervousness. The

key factors that consumers react to – low rates of unemployment and low rates of inflation – remain favorable, but the fact is that many of the jobs that have been added in the last decade have been low-paying service jobs, and wages have not been rising. Inflation has been deemed low as gas prices have stayed down, but costs have risen for health care, education, housing and food. Will this be the year that consumer confidence flags? The second issue is a brand new one, and nobody has a handle on it yet. Will the coronavirus outbreak be a minor economic disruption or does this become a full-blown crisis along the lines of the SARS outbreak of a few years ago? Thus far, it has been mostly a problem for the Chinese. but now it is affecting global supply chains, and travel to and from China has been restricted. The estimate is that it will cost China a half point of GDP growth, and the country already is on the brink of recession with growth down to 6.0%. The impact on global growth numbers could be severe if this virus continues to spread. The third area to pay close attention to is trade – still an issue, despite some of the supposed progress. The US and page 41 u

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ECONOMIC CORNER t page 39 China signed a “phase one” deal, but little has changed as yet. China promised to buy more from the US, but that has been promised before. Now that China is spending billions on the virus outbreak, will they really step up those purchases? If not, will the Trump administration demand the spending anyway and force the issue with renewed tariffs? As far as our North American neighbors are concerned, neither Mexico nor Canada is very excited about the USMCA. Trump now has turned his attention toward Europe and threatens tariffs on the automotive sector, as well as French wine (among other things). If these trade wars ramp up again, the global markets will not take it well. And, to add another complication, there is Brexit and the British desire for a big trade deal with the US. Everybody asserts that such a deal might evolve by the end of the year, but the two economies are very similar in terms of output and it is hard to see the US inviting in a lot of British competition. By most estimates, the 2020 economy will do all right – nothing dramatic in terms of either growth or decline. The consensus view is growth between 1.8% and 2.2% for the year, with more activity at the start of the year than at the end. By the third quarter, the political idiocy will have depressed consumers

The consensus view is growth between 1.8% and 2.2% for the year, with more activity at the start of the year than at the end. enough to create a crisis in the retail sector just as the holiday spending season begins. 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

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 41


SALES

Sales Strategies: Strategic Planning for Greater Sales Success by Brittany Willes, writer, Plastics Business

W

hen it comes to sales strategy, many businesses have a goal that looks like this:

Increase sales by X amount over X time period.

Too often, this is where the strategy ends. When business is booming, lack of strategy may not have a (noticeable) effect on profits. At best, a missed opportunity will not have a lasting negative impact. At worst, a lack of planning can lead to dire circumstances. Erie Molded Plastics (EMP) Vice President of Sales Tom Tredway and Thogus Director of Sales Brad Krupa recently shared their experiences with a lack of goal setting and how it affected their sales teams and overall businesses.

Addressing the problem

According to Tredway, “When it came to sales, everything we had been doing was a shotgun-style approach. There was a great deal of activity, but not much discipline in terms of what accounts we were taking on, how we were finding or approaching our customers, or how we were networking. But, we were content. We didn’t feel like we needed that comprehensive strategy because we felt like the good times weren’t going to end.” Then came the downturn. Between 2002 and 2006, the company lost roughly 60% of its business. EMP was hardly alone when it came to struggling with sales efficiency and declining profits. “For Thogus, we always had a growth goal, but we never looked at what sort of product mix was needed,” Krupa remarked. “I experienced first-hand the damaging effects of quoting, launching and running the wrong type of business.”

Prior to adopting SMART Goals, the Thogus sales team’s process started with top-line revenue (what the goal was) and general activity goals, such as number of phone calls, number of new accounts, new programs, number of face-to-face visits, etc. However, this approach left a gaping hole in the team’s process: There was a top-line sales goal and a stream of sales activity but nothing linking the two together. “We started with a very simple question: How do we measure sales team performance?” said Krupa. First, Krupa had to determine exactly what would be measured. “We selected a number of new programs as our primary metric, and number of RFQs and RFQ hit rates as secondary metrics,” Krupa explained. “This was the easy part. The hard part was applying SMART Goal principles to contract manufacturing: How many new programs? How many RFQs? What is an acceptable hit rate?” Thogus’ solution was to develop a SMART Goal calculator. According to Krupa, the goal calculator is fairly simple. It uses five basic inputs: Growth goal (in terms of revenue), growth period (in terms of years), number of sales representatives selling for the business, hit rate percentage (Thogus used its historical hit rate) and – most critical – expected average revenue per new program. “When we enter these into the calculator, several goals are established,” said Krupa. Not only does the calculator establish overall goals and sales team goals, it also breaks down individual goals for each member of the sales team.

Both companies recognized the need for a deeper strategy. “We needed a destination, and we needed a roadmap to get to that destination,” said Tredway.

Thus, applying the principles of SMART Goals allowed the sales team to find the connections between goals and activities. “It truly made a difference in the way we approach business development,” Krupa remarked. “For Thogus, this was eye opening. Using this calculator opened our eyes to see the type of business we needed to hit our goals.”

Shifting focus

Creating a roadmap

At Thogus, the roadmap started with data. “Instead of reinventing the wheel, we decided to use the principles of SMART Goals to ensure that we targeted the right business,” stated Krupa. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. Overall, it is a relatively simple set of principles designed to help clarify ideas, focus efforts, and use time and resources productively.

42 | plastics business • 2020 Issue 1

Of course, there is no one definitive strategic plan that will work for every business. Like people, businesses are unique in their culture and needs. While Thogus opted to employ SMART Goals, EMP opted for more of a hybrid approach: employing principles of the popular 4DX method, as well as bringing on a consultant to help create a unique strategic plan that ultimately revealed how and where the sales team needed to shift its focus.


“The strategic plan was, of course, company-wide, but sales was a key part,” explained Tredway. At the time EMP began shaping its strategic plan, the company had a stock closures division that represented a small portion of the business. Yet through the process of refining business goals and vision, it was determined that division’s packaging market needed to be the team’s focus. Over the course of several meetings with stakeholders, a plan of action was created. The plan addressed where the company had been, where it was currently and where it needed to be in the future. For EMP, this meant an overhaul of the way sales had previously operated. More thought needed to be put into strategic direction rather than relying on pure activity. The goal now would be to make selling more efficient by engaging in specific tactics. The overall strategy was fairly simple: Increase sales. However, to meet that goal, a series of sub-strategies was developed: • Create a plan to stay educated on markets and trends • Create a sales and marketing strategy for proprietary markets with goals, target industries, tactics and strategy to measure return on investment (ROI) • Create a sales and marketing strategy for custom markets with goals, target industries, tactics and strategy to measure ROI • Create an online strategy “A lot of these items are relatively obvious,” Tredway stated. “But, if you don’t take the time to actually write them out, put them in the calendar and commit to spending a few hours every week on the more strategic side of sales, it’s unlikely to ever get done. The urgent needs of the moment always take precedent over the necessary.” Finally, the sales team created a template with action items, owners, dates and status. This template would go a long way in ensuring that the necessary actions were being taken, creating

If you don’t take the time to actually write them out, put them in the calendar and commit to spending a few hours every week on the more strategic side of sales, it’s unlikely to ever get done. a system of accountability for the sales team and ensuring direct focus to the most important tasks. It also made sure that everyone was on the same page and had the same roadmap to guide activity. Making sure that everyone was on the same page was not the only positive result of developing a strategic plan, according to Tredway. “I felt like I had more purpose to my activity,” he said. “Additionally, I had the backing of manufacturing, purchasing and the front office to support the type of sales we were trying to create.” Since putting together its more focused plan, EMP’s sales have increased by 85%. Furthermore, the company has been able to identify which of its customers could be considered nonstrategic. This allowed EMP to decide whether to continue serving customers that were adding complexity to the operation.

End results

Strategic planning – whether for sales, production or administrative tasks – is one of those things everyone knows they should be doing, but the very phrase elicits groaning and excuses. However, the proof is in the numbers. By developing a concrete way to approach and track sales, companies like EMP and Thogus were able to make the necessary changes needed for business to thrive. n

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ADVISORS www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 43


SALES

Sales Strategies: How to Balance Customer Satisfaction and the Bottom Line by Dianna Brodine, managing editor, Plastics Business

A

Google search for “sales” turns up a lot of inspirational messages about serving the customer, but not much about making sure the customer serves your business. Yet, not every customer is the right customer. Sales staff are tasked with filling the sales funnel to ensure consistent revenue, but it’s also important to evaluate how the customer benefits the business after the initial order. From asking for an increased business load to implementing price increases and … when necessary … exiting a customer, it takes a careful strategy to ensure customer relationships benefit both sides of the sales contract. Here, Tom Wood, vice president of sales for E-S Plastic Products LLC, shares advice from his experiences in the plastics industry.

Asking customers for an increased business load

The hardest customer to get is a new customer, and the easiest customer to get is one you already have. Rather than expending resources into a long sales cycle that may or may not end with awarded work, why not ask existing customers to move a larger portion of their business into your care and keeping? Wood: With existing customers, I want to have a candid discussion about where our relationship stands and where it’s going. Are we in a position of strength, or do we have vulnerabilities? It begins

44 | plastics business • 2020 Issue 1

with asking what they spend in plastics. What percentage of that business is with my company? Where are we in their supply base? We want to grow in the percentage of their business that we produce, so we have to find out where we fit in terms of the volume we’re producing for every customer. Other questions might include: • Can we participate in a vendor program? • What’s keeping you up at night right now? • What works with your existing suppliers – even those not doing what we do? The answers to these questions help E-S Plastics to develop a plan that includes a sales target and a strategy to reach that target. I want to know how much potential is available for me to chase.

Implementing price increases

Every customer wants a lower price, and every one of your competitors wants to offer it. However, there comes a time when the price quoted for production no longer provides a profit. Wood: There are three ways to communicate a price increase: make a phone call, send out a price increase letter or do it in person. But, if you do it over the phone or in writing, it becomes adversarial. Instead, I like to have a face-to-face meeting.


SPRAYON PERFECTION

We want to grow in the percentage of their business that we produce, so we have to find out where we fit in terms of the volume we’re producing for every customer. I’m passionate about making business make sense, so I use data to tell the story about the need. Has part volume decreased significantly? Have materials costs increased? Has pricing stayed consistent for a significant amount of time while all other associated costs have gone up? Since I’m using data to justify the increase, we look at each product individually – don’t hit the easy button! An across-the-board increase may not be needed. Once I’m meeting with my customer, I show them the impact of the old price vs. the new price, and then I set an implementation date. In general, customers prefer not to move tools. If you can justify the changes you’re making for the good of your own business – and you have the relationship with the customer that you should have – you have more leverage than you think.

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Exiting a customer

There comes a time when a customer is no longer the right fit for your business. This situation brings a host of emotions for both sides of the sales relationship, but a calm and professional exit strategy can ease the situation for all involved. Wood: Once it’s determined that a customer no longer has growth potential, we explain the narrative to the customer – whether they no longer fit our business model, the margins weren’t profitable, etc. – and we try to have another supplier to recommend. We also consider the resources needed for the project – from the tool room to the quality department – so we can find all of the inserts, gauges, etc. We have even provided work instruction orders. We don’t want to burn any bridges, but it’s also important to make the right decisions for our company. Over the last five years, E-S Plastics has simplified our business. We have a healthy, diversified customer base; we transitioned 20 customers out that weren’t fitting our current business model; and we’ve done price increases without losing business we didn’t want to lose.

When the first shot matters.

Conclusion

Wood: Every sales plan is a combined plan – that’s the secret sauce. By engaging the customer, we get them to be “on our team.” Once we have that relationship, the customer is invested in helping us, just as we are invested in helping them. n

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 45


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46 | plastics business • 2020 Issue 1


BOOKLIST

Grab Customer Attention and Keep It by Dianna Brodine, managing editor, Plastics Business

I

n my job as a magazine editor, I get a lot of press releases every day. A lot. And, if I had a dime for every time I read the words “state-of-the-art” or “customer-focused,” I’d be able to retire from writing Booklists! Marketing buzzwords don’t attract or keep attention. Instead, those words (and other empty phrases like them) are advertising qualities that – at the end of the day – don’t tell your customer or prospect anything about what you can do to solve their problems. This issue’s Booklist is about crafting a story that grabs attention and explains benefits that make a difference to the people who need your company’s products and services. These books talk about structuring your story to capture attention, and then encouraging longtime customer devotion by creating relationships that resonate.

Stories that Stick

Author: Kindra Hall Released: Sept. 24, 2019 You keep hearing how story is the latest-and-greatest business tool, and that storytelling can do everything – from helping leaders better communicate to motivating sales teams and winning customers away from competitors. But, what stories do you need to tell? And, how do you tell them? In Stories That Stick, Kindra Hall, professional storyteller and nationally known speaker, reveals the four unique stories you can use to differentiate, captivate and elevate: • the Value Story, to convince customers they need what you provide; • the Founder Story, to persuade investors and customers your organization is worth the investment; • the Purpose Story, to align and inspire your employees and internal customers; and • the Customer Story, to allow those who use your product or service to share their authentic experiences with others. Telling these stories well is a simple, accessible skill anyone can develop. With case studies, company profiles and anecdotes backed with original research, Hall presents storytelling as the underutilized talent that separates the good from the best in business. She offers specific, actionable steps readers can take to find, craft and leverage the stories they already have and simply aren’t telling.

Fanocracy: Turning Fans into Customers and Customers into Fans Authors: David Meerman Scott, Reiko Scott Released: Jan. 7, 2020

How do some brands attract word-of-mouth buzz and radical devotion around products as everyday as car insurance, b2b

software and underwear? They embody the most powerful marketing force in the world: die-hard fans. In this essential book, leading business growth strategist David Meerman Scott and fandom expert Reiko Scott explore the neuroscience of fandom and interview young entrepreneurs, veteran business owners, startup founders, nonprofits and companies big and small to pinpoint which practices separate organizations that flourish from those stuck in stagnation. They lay out a road map for converting customers’ ardor into buying power, pulling oneof-a-kind examples from a wide range of organizations, including: • HeadCount, the nonprofit that registers voters at music concerts • Grain Surfboards, the board-building studio that willingly reveals its trade secrets with customers • Hagerty, the classic-car insurance provider with over 600,000 premier club members • HubSpot, the software company that draws 25,000 attendees to its annual conference For anyone who seeks to harness the force of fandom to revolutionize his or her business, Fanocracy shows the way.

Let the Story Do the Work: The Art of Storytelling for Business Success Author: Esther Choy Released: July 27, 2017

It sounds so simple: Incorporate a story and people will remember your message. But, when you get down to crafting one, there’s nothing easy about it. Material for stories surrounds us. Yet, few people are skilled at sharing personal anecdotes and even fewer know how to link page 49 u

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 47


SA E THE DATE

SUCCESS IS NO ACCIDENT

MAY 20-21, 2020

Cleveland, OH MAPPINC.COM/EVENTS

This Summit promises to provide high-level safety professionals with implementable ideas they can tae bac to their facilities to improve their operations and achieve worldclass safety.

48 | plastics business • 2020 Issue 1


BOOKLIST t page 47 them to professional goals. Whether you want to stand out in the interview process, add punch to a presentation or make a compelling case for a new initiative, Let the Story Do the Work shows you how to mine your experience for simple narratives that convey who you are, what you want to achieve and why others should care.

evoke something more – something visceral? Welcome to the Experience Economy, where businesses must form unique connections in order to secure their customers’ affections – and ensure their own economic vitality. This seminal book on experience innovation by Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore explores how Packed with enlightening examples, the book explains how to savvy companies excel by offering compelling find the perfect hook, structure your story and deliver it at the experiences for their customers, resulting not only in increased right time in the right way. You’ll discover how to use stories to customer allegiance but also in a more profitable bottom line. capture attention, engage your audience, bring facts and data to Translated into 13 languages, The Experience Economy has life, pitch persuasively and more. Learn to leverage the elements of become a must-read for leaders of enterprises large and small, storytelling – and turn everyday communications into opportunities for-profit and nonprofit, global and local. to connect, gain buy-in and build lasting relationships. Now with a brand-new preface, Pine and Gilmore make an even stronger case for experiences as the critical link between The Experience Economy: Competing a company and its customers in an increasingly distractible for Customer Time, Attention and Money and time-starved world. Filled with detailed examples and Authors: B. Joseph Pine II, James H. Gilmore actionable advice, The Experience Economy helps companies Revised: Dec. 10, 2019 create personal, dramatic and even transformative experiences, Apple Stores, Disney, LEGO, Starbucks. Do these names offering the script from which managers can generate value in conjure up images of mere goods and services, or do they ways aligned with a strong customer-centric strategy. n

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 49


SUPPLIER DIRECTORY Employment Services

Hot Runners

AJ Augur Group, LLC www.ajaugur.com Page 20

INCOE Corporation www.incoe.com Page 17

Equipment/ Auxiliary Suppliers

Synventive Molding Solutions www.synventive.com Page 45

Conair www.conairgroup.com/solved Back cover

Insurance

Frigel www.frigel.com Page 28 Plastic Process Equipment, Inc. www.ppe.com Inside back cover Progressive Components https://procomps.com/CVe Page 29

Federated Insurance www.federatedinsurance.com Page 46

Legal Benesch www.beneschlaw.com Page 10

M&A Activity

Wittmann Battenfeld www.wittmann-group.com Page 14

MBS Advisors www.mbsadvisors.com Page 43

Yushin America, Inc. www.yushinamerica.com Page 39

Stout www.stout.com Page 31

Events/Organizations

MRO Supplies

Environmental Health and Safety Summit www.mappinc.com/events Page 48

Grainger www.grainger.com Page 40

Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP) www.mappinc.com Page 48

Molds/Tooling A-1 Tool Corporation www.a1toolcorp.com Page 33

PET Value Chain Conference www.icisevents.com Page 46

B A Die Mold www.badiemold.com Page 32

Foaming Agents

Carson Tool & Mold www.carsonmold.com Page 33

iD Additives www.idadditives.com Page 7

Concept Molds www.conceptmolds.com Page 32

50 | plastics business • 2020 Issue 1

Ivanhoe Tool & Die Company, Inc. www.ivanhoetool.com Page 33

Operations Consulting Harbour Results, Inc. www.harbourresults.com/plastics Page 30

Process Monitoring

Tax & Advisory Mueller Prost www.muellerprost.com Page 23

Training Paulson Training Programs, Inc. www.paulsontraining.com/ simtech Page 16

IQMS www.iqms.com Page 3 RJG, Inc. www.rjginc.com/registration Page 15 SIGMASOFT Virtual Molding www.virtualmolding.us Page 21

Purging Compounds ASACLEAN/Sun Plastech Inc. www.asaclean.com Page 19 Purgex Purging Compounds www.purgexonline.com Inside front cover

Resins Amco Polymers www.amcopolymers.com Page 49 Chase Plastics www.chaseplastics.com Page 20 M. Holland www.mholland.com Page 11

Plastics Business 2020 Issue 1

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

TAAF Fights Against Global Competition Molders Look Ahead to 2020 Filling the Leadership Gap Setting Sales Goals

Official Publication of Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors

PolySource www.polysource.net Page 41

Specialty Coatings Chem-Pak, Inc. www.chem-pak.com Page 45

A guide to this issue’s Plastics Business advertisers.


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When you’re planning a new or updated plant, plan on working with Conair. We’re more than just the plastics auxiliary equipment leader. We’re the complete system-solutions leader, too. We handle it all – from design and equipment specifications to installation and start-up, and the project management support you need to pull it all together. Plus, our continuing service is dedicated to your uptime, with 88% of all parts orders processed and shipped within 24 hours.

52 | plastics

Get a total solution backed by a 100% performance guarantee. business • 2020 Issue 1 Learn more at conairgroup.com/solved

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Plastics Business 2020 Issue 1