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Plastics Business Summer 2015

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

OCTEX Invests in Imagination Evaluating Plant Expansion Needs Monitoring Efficiency with Auxiliary Equipment MAPP Benchmarking & Best Practices Conference

Official Publication of Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors


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Plastics Business

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

Contents

profile

8

conference

strategies

14

46

features profile More than Molding: OCTEX Aims for Magic...........................................8 industry An M&A Market Update for the Plastics Industry.................................. 16 management Four Insidious Impacts of a Mis-Hire.................................................... 20 production Monitoring Manufacturing Efficiency with Advanced Auxiliary Equipment................................................. 22 view from 30 Casual Fridays Includes Fewer Emails at Ice Miller Taking Tool Return Documentation to the Next Level at Metro Plastics Technologies Getting on Board with Shift Changes at Crescent Industries................. 28 booklist Four of the Top Business Books of 2015................................................. 32

departments director’s letter................... 6 association.........................25 news..................................34 advertisers.........................50

MAPP Benchmarking & Best Practices Conference.........14

solutions Evaluating Plant Expansion Needs....................................................... 36 focus Ensuring Product Purity in Plastic Recycling........................................ 40 strategies Benefits that Attract and Retain Employees.......................................... 46

4 | plastics business • summer 2015

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director’s letter

Seeing Red is Something We All Share The other day I was walking with my wife on a nature trail in a heavily wooded area. Near the trail’s end, I began to traverse through high, thick grass – at which point, my wife told me to watch out for snakes. Now, truth be told, in all of my training in the US military, one thing that I’ve never overcome is my fear of snakes. However, I confidently and bravely forged ahead… but did not let her know I was frantically scanning the area. The warning my wife provided was well-deserved considering the environment, but unnecessary. Humans instinctually are sensitive to novel shapes and colors as a part of our survival mechanism. Unusual shapes, colors and movements automatically are captured and quickly processed by our brains to categorize any threat as good or bad (friend or foe). In fact, the retina of the human eye perceives light at the red end of the spectrum more than any other color as reds frequently are associated with threats to our existence; for example, red is the primary color seen when the gaping jaws of wild animals are extended in attack. I’ve shared this information to demonstrate how humans automatically are influenced by environmental and situational factors that unconsciously impact our decision-making processes. In fact, we as consumers continuously are bombarded by influential forms of media that prey on our senses. While watching a recently televised sporting event, I counted 12 commercials in a 30-minute time period that had something to do with restaurants, packaged foods or drinks – which helped to explain why I was eating a bag of potato chips and drinking a cold beer. The power of influence is one of the strongest forces in our society today, and nothing is left to chance. From the physical layout of grocery stores and casinos to the use of colored lighting in shopping malls, restaurants and hotels, specific tactics are utilized to influence human behavior in order to maximize consumer spending and grow brand loyalty. Just as retailers successfully have used strategies to influence consumers’ brand loyalty, business leaders have much to gain by increasing their understanding of how to influence behavior. Safety performance, production efficiencies and product quality all are impacted by and can be tied directly to employee behavior, which can be measured by employee engagement. As written by Joseph Greeny, renowned social scientist, “at the end of the day, what qualifies people to be called leaders is their capacity to influence others to change their behavior in order to achieve higher levels of results.” As the competitive nature of business continues to increase, the greatest tool business professionals have in maintaining their own advantage lies in their ability to influence their employees to become increasingly engaged. It is for this reason that MAPP’s leadership team has recruited New York Times bestselling author and leading social scientist on business performance Joseph Greeny to personally educate attendees at MAPP’s 2015 Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference about the Power of Influence. Greeny has shared the stage with Jack Welch, Colin Powell, Jim Collins and Daniel Pink at some of the world’s premier leadership conferences and is prepared to significantly impact conference attendees on October 22nd and 23rd, revealing the concepts behind why people behave the way they do and how leaders can apply influence strategies to achieve permanent and positive change. I look forward to seeing you in October!

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 Mike Walter, MET Plastics, Inc. Vice President Ben Harp, Polymer Conversions, Inc. Secretary Alan Rothenbuecher, Ice Miller LLP Bill Bartlett, First American Plastics/Quad, Inc. Tom Boyd, Blow Molded Specialties Craig Carrel, Team 1 Plastics, Inc. Norm Forest, Dymotek Molding Technologies Kelly Goodsel, Viking Plastics Ed Holland, M. Holland Company James Krause, Microplastics, Inc. Bob MacIntosh, Nicolet Plastics, Inc. Glenn Nowak, IQMS Eric Paules, Crescent Industries Ryan Richey, Precision Plastics, Inc. Missy Rogers, Noble Plastics, Inc. Teresa Schell, Vive LLC Tom Treadway, Erie Molded Plastics, Inc.

Plastics Business

Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors

Published by:

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 Jen Clark Brittany Willes

Art Director Becky Arensdorf Executive Director, MAPP

6 | plastics business • summer 2015

Graphic Designer Kelly Adams

Circulation Manager Brenda Schell


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profile

More than Molding: OCTEX Aims for Magic Twenty-five years after it first opened its doors in Sarasota, Florida, OCTEX LLC is shaping a future that is cutting edge in every sense. With a unique talent acquisition strategy, nearly unrestricted technology investments and an aggressive campus development plan, the company strives to be more to its customers than an injection molding provider. Led by a desire to make a difference Producing parts for the medical, consumer, defense and aerospace, industrial and automotive markets, OCTEX manufactures volumes ranging from one conceptual part to more than 100 million parts per year. With injection molded products as varied as industrial diesel filters and implantable surgical device components, the company’s bread and butter is in small parts, with weights from 0.0008 grams to three pounds.

by Dianna Brodine

“At OCTEX, we produce parts, sub-assemblies, full assemblies and complete devices, depending on the partner and market,” said John Hoskins, executive vice president. “In doing so, many secondary processes such as automated assembly, testing, marking (laser and print), labeling and automated inspection are performed on a regular basis. Over half of the products we produce have secondary processes.” The entrenchment from product development through final product testing is intentional, and the company labels it “Concept to Carton,” describing a 40-90 percent reduction in tool build time and a 45-75 percent reduction in tool cost, which also typically results in a 60 percent reduction in time to market. “A constant among all the markets we serve is the need to bring ideas to market faster and more cost effectively,” Hoskins explained. “Our commitment to our partners begins the moment they present an idea, and it never ends because we support it throughout the product life cycle.”

Concept to Carton only is one of the outcomes that resulted from a leadership team assembled with an eye on creating a different approach to manufacturing. Founded in 1990, the company was purchased in 2009 by Jim Westman, an investment banker with a strong desire to be part of the reinvigoration of US manufacturing. “His mergers and acquisitions experience gave him familiarity with best practices across all industries,” Captions, from top: Jim Westman and said Hoskins, “but manufacturing wasn’t his background.” John Hoskins lead an accomplished team of professionals at OCTEX. The famous Neither is manufacturing the background for many of the employees. Westman brought in Tervis® insulated cups are molded at the experts in every market and every field, from consumer, aerospace and medical to those Sarasota facility. Medical device molding with PhDs in polymers and material sciences, as well as staff with technical expertise. “We also makes up a significant portion of the didn’t focus on those working in injection molding – we went to the areas of study behind company’s product range. the molding,” Hoskins explained. “We want to understand plastics in its essence before we try to mold it. There’s an art to what plastics is, and then there’s a huge amount of science.

8 | plastics business • summer 2015


Those two elements must be merged, and that’s what we’re doing with our team.” With Westman at the helm and a team in place, the company leadership stepped back to evaluate its current strengths, its future direction and the steps that needed to be taken to achieve it. What developed was the driving principles of OCTEX: engage-innovate-evolve. “We looked at the company and saw a beautifully run organization that was itching to do something more,” explained Hoskins. “OCTEX already was efficient, lean and well-run, but we needed a focus to show us where we were going and a robust culture to get us there.” The evaluation process took into account the potential in several markets, but a desire to touch people’s lives directed the focus toward the medical and consumer industries. “We had to talk about how we wanted to spend our next 50 years – how we wanted to be remembered,” Hoskins said. “We needed to harness the amazing power of the team and create a culture that allows this incredible group of people to be the best they can be. It’s important to come into work and learn something every day that could have a profound impact, so we built a culture that promotes that and found a marketplace that welcomes us.” The white board approach When Hoskins talks about OCTEX, his excitement and enthusiasm ring through loud and clear. This is not a company content with its achievements – the entire company wants more. And, “more” starts the moment its employees and customers walk through the door. The facility was constructed to create a feeling of openness and airiness, from the main hall to the production floor, which Hoskins described as, “light, clean and beautiful. It’s efficient and quiet.” The effect is designed to mimic a giant white room or scientific laboratory. “We’re not typical, because we don’t see ourselves as an injection molder,” he explained. “It’s one of our core competencies, but we’re a solutions partner. Nothing we do is normal, and that’s why we’re so successful.” OCTEX encourages its staff to take a white board approach each and every day, positing a belief that there are no failures or page 10 u

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 9


profile t page 9 problems, but simply opportunities for the growth of knowledge. A 30-foot billboard proclaims, “This is where imagination goes to work,” and that attitude is encouraged in every aspect of the culture. “We want our employees to experiment, so we encourage R&D work. Our quality labs contain a million

freedom and imagination, we have to provide the technology required to make the results of that imagination into reality.” In the past year, OCTEX has invested heavily in micro molding, driven by an acknowledgement that the future of the medical, defense and aerospace markets will require smaller, less invasive, more complex components. Metrology and analytics technology also received significant upgrades to allow the company to measure, validate and analyze the smaller components. “As parts become smaller and more complex, it was an opportunity to invest in 3D digital microscopes, instant measuring machines and CT scanning,” Hoskins explained. “We no longer have to see a product to assess it – we can see through it with our CT technology. It’s a major investment, but one that gives us a powerful tool. We want to be the partner who can provide real answers by seeing problems and potential solutions from every angle and utilizing all of the latest technologies.”

dollars of advanced machinery so we can analyze each part to figure out how we can make it better. We’re constantly trying to understand the materials and processes, because to make great parts, you have to be able to see and understand them,” Hoskins said. To encourage idea creation, traditional barriers have been removed. In meetings, staff from departments as varied as sales, metrology and engineering work together to understand the client’s objectives. Then, the team works to improve upon the product that can meet those objectives. The freedom to pursue ideas is encouraged by a leadership team that provides the resources – both time and technology – that are necessary. “We start at the idea and take it all the way through to finished product in the end user’s hands,” said Hoskins. “We start with a literal and figurative white board – a clear directive to look at projects in the most open and idea-rich environment possible so we can provide multiple paths to meet the client’s needs.” Investing in imagination To make the white board come to life, OCTEX has provided advanced laboratories stocked with the technology required for research and development activities. “We’ve given everyone the opportunity to tell us what they want to explore, and we have millions upon millions of cutting edge technologies that we’re investigating, in addition to those we’ve already invested in,” said Hoskins. “If our culture starts with an atmosphere of

10 | plastics business • summer 2015

Hoskins asserts that constantly vetting the nascent and emerging technologies and then bringing those that are relevant into commercial use allows OCTEX to reduce both costs and time to market for its customers. “What we’re learning while letting our imaginations run wild helps us to constantly evolve our core capabilities, and that allows us to remain relevant to our customers and the markets we serve,” he said.

“We start with a literal and figurative white board – a clear directive to look at projects in the most open and idea-rich environment possible so we can provide multiple paths to meet the client’s needs.” Fresh perspectives on market opportunities Since 2008, OCTEX has increased its revenue by over 150 percent and has invested more than $10 million in its facilities and technologies, with more to come. Its current 73,000 square foot campus soon will grow with the addition of a 13,000 square foot innovation lab that will centralize all R&D activities, and page 12 u


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profile t page 10

the company expanded its tooling abilities in June by purchasing CHOICE Tool & Mold, a 20-year-old injection mold building operation with 19 employees. “In the next 24 months, we want to bring the horsepower of these new investments to bear,” said Hoskins. “We want to become experts in using them and then offer that expertise to our partners. We can stretch ourselves to create parts we’ve never been able to produce before, which takes what we can offer to the next level.” Hoskins anticipates growth in several of the company’s target markets, but also believes that waiting for market opportunities will put OCTEX at risk of falling behind its competitors. “We can’t rely on the market to drive our growth. Instead, we have to be present in it and make it happen, regardless of market conditions,” he explained. “Our strategy has been and always will be to be the most innovative and technologically advanced solutions partner to the leaders in the markets we serve. When

we put innovation first, opportunities always are within our reach.” In the next two to four years, OCTEX will strategically acquire again, bolstering its reach geographically. “We have to be smart enough to look forward and embrace where the world is heading,” Hoskins said. “That’s one thing that makes us different. We don’t fight change, and that’s a critical factor in making success happen.” “Molding is important to us, but it’s only one piece of who we are,” he said. “As the markets we serve become more demanding and complex, we have to meet those needs with a fresh perspective. That means finding people who understand the industry and where it’s going. It means seeing plastic as a medium used to make parts, but not the only piece of the puzzle. It means taking the extra step to find out what the customer needs and then finding a solution, even if the best solution isn’t something we’ve done before. That’s when the magic happens.” n

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October 22-23, 2015 Indianapolis, Indiana

The Industry's Only TRUE Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference This year’s theme – THE POWER OF INFLUENCE – is designed to inspire, motivate and educate managers on how to improve the positive influence they have on the people around them. Becoming better is not something that just happens; good leaders continually work to make themselves better, and the 2015 Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference will help them do just that! HOW GREAT LEADERS USE THE POWER OF INFLUENCE Joseph Grenny, VitalSmarts Creating sustainable change is a constant struggle for organizations and individuals. People often lack the skills to influence the behaviors behind issues like failed initiatives; short-lived change efforts; unproductive corporate cultures and entrenched bad habits. During this session, Joseph Grenny will draw on the best practices of many of the world’s leading change agents and on five decades of social-science research to create a powerful model for changing behavior. Attendees will follow the experiences of influence masters who have succeeded in solving some of the world’s most profound problems. Examples ranging from major healthcare reform to reversals of destructive social behaviors to unprecedented corporate turnarounds will illustrate how a proven set of skills makes change not only achievable, but sustainable.

INNOVATING THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE Steve Riddell, Blinds.com Innovation always is centered on delivering value to customers, and the customer experience must be front and center. Steve Riddell is an awardwinning innovator leading Blinds.com sales and operations. Creating and executing disrupting value propositions has allowed Blinds.com to create consistent 30 percent sales growth year over year. Along with founder Jay Steinfeld, Riddell primarily was responsible for leading Blinds.com’s merger with Home Depot in January 2014. His energy, passion and transformative leadership will inspire attendees to look at the customer experience they provide in new ways. Riddell will deliver a tangible roadmap that business leaders can Lift and Shift into their businesses to transform and innovate their value proposition and customer experience. HOW TO INVOLVE, EMPOWER AND ENGAGE EMPLOYEES IN A SAFETY JOURNEY Wayne Punch, WPunch LLC Successful business leaders understand the high correlation between health & safety performance and a company’s bottom line profitability. Just one workplace injury can result in a cascading domino effect of negative repercussions in any manufacturing business; repercussions that can destroy employee morale and virtually eliminate profits. Join Wayne Punch as he shares a proven and transferable system that engages all employees within the organization, leading to breakthroughs in employee safety, motivation, morale and cost reduction.

WWW.MAPPINC.COM/CONFERENCE


ABOUT THE BENCHMARKING AND BEST PRACTICES CONFERENCE The Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference is a nononsense business exchange designed to provide profitimpacting information to senior executives in the plastics manufacturing industry. The goal is to help plastics companies improve their operations and tactics in order to impact bottom line profits. Past attendees of this conference will testify that this is the best format in America for executives to learn how to do just that. The conference is anchored with best practices and leading benchmark presentations derived from the industry’s best known sources of statistical information. These presentations identify and correlate profitability to operational behaviors, market choices and more.

REGISTER MAPP MEMBERS: $695 NON-MAPP MEMBERS: $995 GROUPS OF 4 OR MORE: $595 (per MAPP Member attendee)

BC CONNECT Whether new to the Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference or a veteran attendee, one of the great opportunities it offers is a chance to meet with a wide variety of colleagues. In this high-energy session, participants will have the opportunity to quickly meet with a variety of peers, new suppliers, service providers and customers. Plan to make new connections and find people with similar issues who can help with current challenges.

As business leaders understand, the ability to quickly adjust to marketplace conditions and continually improve operational efficiencies is a must. The core of this year’s Benchmarking and Best Practices conference will address leadership, operational best practices, sales and marketing and the impact of employees on the bottom line. With over 500 plastics professionals expected to meet in Indianapolis, Indiana, on October 22-23, the Conference Committee has created a schedule packed full of best practices, leading-edge benchmarks, expert presentations and the best networking opportunities in the industry. New this year is the Lunch and Learn option. Continue to learn from the Keynote speakers during this new session ($40). Lunch will be provided as the speakers delve deeper into applicable ways to use the Power of Influence to improve the workplace. Attendees also can participate in the Benchmarking Conference’s more traditional Networking lunch (included in registration cost). Take a break from educational sessions to catch up with peers or get a jump start on BC Connect during this lunch.

CONFERENCE HOTEL This year’s 2015 Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference will be held at the JW Marriott, located in downtown Indianapolis. Indianapolis is the premier convention and show city for major national and international events. Known for its cutting edge amenities with small town hospitality, Indianapolis offers culture, art, sports and more for the business conference attendee. To make reservations, visit www.mappinc.com/conference and click on the Hotel tab.

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industry

An M&A Market Update for the Plastics Industry There continues to be strong demand for plastic companies across all end markets and manufacturing processes. Although acquisition demand is strong, there currently exists a general lack of quality deals in the marketplace, resulting in a supply/demand imbalance (i.e., more buyers than sellers). Global plastics M&A volume increased four percent during 2014, and despite a four percent drop during the first half of 2015, demand and overall activity are expected to remain strong. Overview A number of factors are driving strong M&A activity within the plastics industry. Strategic buyers, now sitting on record cash reserves, are looking to supplement organic growth with targeted acquisitions. Private equity firms, meanwhile, have roughly $350 billion in “dry powder,” much of which was raised before the recession and will need to be committed soon or reach the end of its investable life. At the same time, debt and equity financing remains accessible and accommodating in terms of both pricing and availability. Finally, many of the more cyclical end markets within the plastics industry, such as automotive, heavy truck and housing, are at positive points in their respective cycles. This dynamic has driven strong M&A activity within these sectors.

by David Evatz, SRR

David Evatz is a managing director and head of the Plastics Industry Practice at SRR. Evatz has extensive mergers and acquisition and corporate finance experience, having executed numerous buy and sell side assignments, leveraged buyouts, joint ventures, fairness opinions and the private placement of senior debt, mezzanine debt and equity securities. Within the plastics industry, Evatz has worked with companies serving the medical, packaging, industrial and automotive markets and for companies with various manufacturing and plastic processing capabilities. For more information, contact Evatz at 312.752.3328 or devatz@srr.com.

Positive macroeconomic trends over the past couple of years also have had a positive impact on the plastics industry. Consumer confidence is returning to pre-recession levels, unemployment has eased to roughly 5.5 percent and US GDP continues to remain strong. The impact of these is apparent in the monthly Purchasing Managers’ Indices (“PMI”), which indicate an expansion of the manufacturing sector if greater than 50. In 68 of the past 69 months, beginning September 2009, the sector has expanded. The domestic plastics industry, across end markets and manufacturing processes, also has become more competitive relative to certain low-cost country alternatives, particularly when factoring in quality, production flexibility and customer service. In addition, certain resin prices have declined over the past year, which has benefited processors. Plastics industry M&A activity Activity currently is strong across all end markets, including traditionally stable and growing segments such as medical and packaging, but also within cyclical markets such as automotive and housing given the current cycle points. During the first half of 2015, industrial plastics companies continued to account for the lion’s share of transactions at 57 percent, followed by plastic packaging at 28 percent and medical and automotive plastics at nine percent and six percent, respectively (see Chart 1). Industrial companies include heavy truck, appliance, aerospace/defense and several housingrelated segments, among others. Plastic packaging transaction activity has shown the strongest growth over the past 18 months, with a 23 percent increase in 2014 and 10 percent growth during the first half of 2015. While automotive plastics M&A activity declined 29 percent during the first half of 2015, there was a 76 percent increase during 2014. Finally, industrial transaction activity declined eight percent during the first half of 2015, while the coveted medical segment saw a six percent increase. Injection molding and extrusion transactions continued to represent the majority of deals during the first half of 2015, with 43 percent and 29 percent shares, respectively. This largely is due to the highly fragmented nature of these segments, particularly injection molding. Resin/compounding, thermoforming and blow molding represented

16 | plastics business • summer 2015


Chart 1

Quarterly M&A Deal Volume 6.3% Decrease

2012 Total: 396

125 105 100

4.0% Increase

2013 Total: 371

113

2014 Total: 386

107

101 87

77

4.0% Decrease YoY

106

106 96

94

1H 2015 Total: 194

95

89

83

88

75 50 25 0

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

2012

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Q1

Q2

2013

Industrial Plastics Source: SRR and various sources.

Plastic Packaging

Q3

Q4

2014 Automotive Plastics

Q1

Q2 2015

Medical Plastics

Chart 2

2010

2011

Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2

16.0x 15.0x 14.0x 13.0x 12.0x 11.0x 10.0x 9.0x 8.0x 7.0x 6.0x 5.0x 4.0x 3.0x 2.0x 1.0x 0.0x

Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4

Enterprise Value/EBITDA – Rolling Trailing 12 Months (TTM)

2012 2013 Medical Plastics

2014

2015

2010

2011 2012 2013 Plastic Packaging

2014

2015

2010

2011

2012 2013 Industrial Plastics

2014

2015

2010

2011 2012 2013 Automotive Plastics

2014

2015

Source: S&P Capital IQ.

numerous transactions as well, with 11 percent, six percent and four percent, respectively. There also was activity in the tool and die, prototyping, machinery, rotational molding and distribution segments. Thermoforming, injection molding and extrusion activity increased during the first half of 2015, growing 22 percent, four percent and four percent, respectively. While not significant in absolute volume, most of the other plastic processes declined during the first half of 2015.

and 18 percent, respectively. While representing a smaller share of activity, hybrid and financial buyer activity grew 17 percent and five percent during the first half of 2015, while strategic buyer transactions declined 12 percent. On the sell side, privately-owned businesses, which represented 59 percent of the activity, increased four percent, while the sale of corporate and private equity-owned businesses decreased seven percent and 26 percent, respectively.

Transactions involving strategic buyers represented 59 percent of the activity during the first half of 2015, followed by financial and hybrid (private equity-owned strategic) buyers at 24 percent

The majority of plastics deals continue to be either domestic (both parties based in the US) or international. Domestic and page 18 u

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 17


industry t page 17 international deals represented 37 percent and 48 percent of activity during the first half of 2015, respectively, with crossborder deals (one party in the US and the other international) accounting for 15 percent of transactions. Relative to the first half of 2014, international transaction activity increased 18 percent, while domestic and cross-border transactions declined 20 percent and 12 percent, respectively. Plastics industry public company metrics Whether medical, packaging, industrial or automotive, publiclytraded plastics companies continue to experience a high level of performance in both operating and market metrics. Most of these companies are trading at or near 52-week highs, with many trading near all-time highs, which has resulted in valuation multiples that are at, or higher, than pre-recession levels. That said, there has been a distinct difference among the end markets, with medical companies typically valued at the high end of the spectrum, followed by plastic packaging, industrial and automotive. In addition, trailing 12-month EBITDA margin averages for public companies edged slightly higher in the first half of 2015 (see Chart 2 on page 17).

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Conclusion Based on economic indicators and recent trends, M&A activity in the plastics industry is expected to remain strong for the balance of 2015 and into 2016. Cash reserves of strategic buyers and “dry powder” of private equity firms, as well as encouraging capital markets, suggest strong demand for acquisitions. Abundant supply of natural gas and a shift in relative advantage of domestic resin producers also should positively influence activity. Finally, valuations for publicly-traded plastics companies are at or near recent highs, with private company transactions showing similar valuation trends. Macroeconomic factors and industrial and consumer trends are all indicative of overall industry health. As they relate to company-specific health, however, the relative value of one processor versus another is driven by a multitude of factors, including company-specific performance measures. Ultimately, an individual company’s valuation will be based on a number of value drivers, including end markets served, customer concentration, company size, profitability/margins, resin passthrough ability, book of business/future prospects, proprietary products or processes and overall amount of value-added content and niche market leadership. n


4 management

Four Insidious Impacts of a Mis-Hire

by Magi Graziano, Conscious Hiring® and Development

Magi Graziano, as seen on NBC, is the CEO of Conscious Hiring® and Development, a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert and author of The Wealth of Talent. Through her expansive knowledge and captivating presentations, Graziano provides her customers with actionable, practical ideas to maximize their effectiveness and ability to create high-performing teams. For more information, visit www.KeenAlignment.com.

CEOs, business leaders and managers are acutely aware of the fiscal costs of a mishire, but there are some invisible – and potentially insidious – costs that can wreak havoc on an organization. Although it might not be top of mind, when a person is hired who does not fit with the organizational culture and/or operating philosophy, the impacts are pervasive throughout the organization. By continuing to operate with outmoded hiring practices, the company becomes susceptible to four specific hidden consequences of a mis-hire.

1

1. Fragmented customer service Ensuring the team understands the company’s product and service set and why customers use them is where excellent service begins. Companies can – and ought to – bridge the knowledge gap for new hires with comprehensive product and service training; however, workers cannot be trained to care about the customer. Behavioral and performance research shows that great service is delivered through a fundamental set of values, attitudes and beliefs that are in alignment with a service philosophy. When people are in a role in customer service for the wrong reasons, no training in the world will compensate for their lack of connection to the work itself. This is a common experience when expecting one level of affinity from the place consumers spend their money and receiving service that is counter to that expectation. This leads to feeling disengaged, dissatisfied and even extreme anger. When a person is hired whose heart is not aligned with the company’s mission and service offerings, or they lack the basic service acumen to execute the customer service objectives, this same level of dissatisfaction is what customers experience.

2

2. Reduction in innovation Companies arrive at a sustainable business model through innovation, creativity and a keen awareness of how to bridge a gap in the marketplace. Once the product set is stable and customers are buying, continual improvement and innovation is required to stay ahead of the copycat curve. When some employees cannot seem to get it together, miss basic deadlines or don’t find problems until the customers do, innovation is not even an option. When employees are hired because their resumes list the right keywords, yet the people behind the resumes lack conceptual thinking ability and theoretical problem-solving, employees lack the access within themselves to come up with creative and inventive solutions. Often, this lack of ability shows up as excuses, finger pointing and roadblocks outside their control. It is important to be aware that a person who lacks these traits is unaware they lack them, and these traits and competencies are very difficult to teach. When hiring people for roles that need to innovate, the prospects must already have these innovator competencies, behaviors and values.

3

3. Decrease in workforce productivity When a company hires in a hurry, unwanted turnover is experienced. If the company is lucky, the turnover happens fast. Yet, in most cases, it is months before the problem surfaces and the impact of the wrong person doing the job wrong already has disseminated throughout the team, if not the department. In high-level roles, specifically for senior leadership, the impact is detrimental not only in the immediate area of influence; it permeates throughout the organization. In sales, for example, if two

20 | plastics business • summer 2015


to three people continually are not achieving quota and instead are approaching the position with a poor attitude, it poisons the well for those who are producing and are aligned with the position requirements and level of activity required for success. Tolerating people who are not engaged and thriving waters down the engagement and productivity of those who want to win. When any of these morale and engagement busters are happening within a culture, good people either leave or move into autopilot until they can find another position. The indirect and costly impacts are higher staffing costs to make up for the lack of employee and team productivity; institutional knowledge loss when good, trained people leave; and increased training costs to continually retrain new blood in the organization.

4

4. Time and energy losses for the team and leadership The old adage says 80 percent of time is spent with the bottom 20 percent of performers. As it happens, this statement may be closer to 30 percent of the underperformers. As the competition for talent increases and the fear of the empty chair blocks good sense, a company can feel pressured to fill the job with the first decent person who surfaces with a cogent resume. Hiring the

wrong people because the company is “in a rush” to put a butt in a seat leads to more empty seats – or worse, full seats with empty pay offs. One of the hidden costs of unwanted turnover, as reported in recent employee and manager engagement surveys, is that 70 percent of managers surveyed reported that they are coping with burnout and a job misery rating that is detrimental to their overall happiness. When the workplace culture turns into one of micromanagement, correction and reprimand rather than collaboration, creation and mentoring, the manager’s job becomes one of parent and babysitter. Often, managers and leaders are looking to HR to fix people and situations that could have been avoided by demonstrating more consciousness and awareness before, during and after hiring. It seems as if, in many companies, an admission of making a poor hire is a far worse offense than allowing and tolerating subpar performance. Furthermore, the cost of doing nothing about a bad hire far outweighs the cost of being proactive and creating highimpact hiring solutions. When viewed in terms of bottom-line profitability and overall success, shifting the philosophy about people and hiring consciously just makes common sense. n

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 21


production

Monitoring Manufacturing Efficiency with Advanced Auxiliary Equipment Process monitoring is a critical component of any successful injection molding job. Monitoring the molding machinery and the mold itself can provide in-depth insight into how each and every shot is running, from cavity pressure and temperature sensors to detecting short shots and parts that do not conform to preset standards. Intensive monitoring, whether machine-side or via mobile monitoring systems, can reduce the potential for bad parts, which in turn saves time and reduces scrap, all while ensuring the end customer remains satisfied with the part quality. While sensors, software and systems abound to monitor what’s happening inside the mold and as the part ejects from the molding machinery, the auxiliary equipment plays an equally important role in the conveying, drying and chilling of both the resin and completed parts. Monitoring systems exist for that equipment, too, enabling up-to-the-minute data collection, immediate troubleshooting and preventative maintenance.

by Dianna Brodine

Frigel offers real-time cooling system control and adjustment Frigel, with global headquarters in Italy and North American headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, has introduced 3PR, promoted as complete real-time cooling system control. The system records machine operating data points, but exceeds data collection by using the information to actively make adjustments to the Frigel cooling system for optimum performance without operator intervention. “The 3PR is a first for cooling systems,” explained Al Fosco, global marketing manager for Frigel North America. “The system automatically senses what’s going on in the production environment and adjusts the fans, pumps or compressors to match the requirements of processing. It’s a total functional approach to the system and goes beyond just predicting potential failures.”

Photo above: Conair’s new SCADA-enabled ControlWorks system gives users the ability to look at more than one piece of equipment at a time and drill down as necessary to find information on individual machines.

The controller allows operators to see all cooling-related systems data at a glance, including pressures, temperatures and coolant levels. It can monitor energy consumption, examine performance over time and observe system functions. The biggest advantage lies in preventative maintenance. “We know how long a pump or fan motor should last or how many hours a machine should run before the filter should be changed,” explained Fosco. “3PR tracks the data and then will tell you it’s time to check the filters or that the amp is running higher than normal. That data allows preventative maintenance, so processors can keep running rather than running until the equipment fails.” Alarms and service notifications identify the exact location of needed maintenance, and 3PR provides troubleshooting instructions on screen. “A troubleshooting manual has been built into the controller, and it walks the maintenance technician through the

22 | plastics business • summer 2015


repair. This prevents the customer from having to call for onsite service,” Fosco said. In the event more involved maintenance is required, 3PR provides real-time remote capabilities to Frigel’s global service technicians.

are available on Carousel PlusTM dryers with DC-T touchview controls, TrueBlendTM gravimetric blenders with SB2 controls and TrueWeighTM continuous gravimetric blenders, among other systems.

Still, Fosco says the greatest advantage lies in process optimization. “The system adjusts itself to the conditions of the environment and the production run,” he explained. “Processors want to turn the cooling system on and forget it. The 3PR allows that.”

“With Conair’s web-connected equipment, processors can use a standard internet browser to log into the equipment control system and monitor operating conditions just as if they were standing in front of the machine itself,” said Bob Criswell, mechanical engineering manager for The Conair Group. “If there is an alarm on any web-enabled equipment, the controls can send an alert via email or text message. Then users can log in to assess the situation and, if necessary, make changes immediately and remotely. In short, anything that can be done at the control panel itself – changing setpoints, performing troubleshooting and other operations – also can be done remotely from the other side of the plant or from the other side of the world.”

Conair connects with web-enabled controls First introduced in 2006, the ControlWorksTM system, from Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania’s The Conair Group, now uses SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) technology to monitor and control most Conair equipment. The functionality gathers process data from all connected equipment and stores it for analysis of trends and prediction of maintenance requirements. The system is web-enabled, which allows users with a computer, tablet or smartphone to view control screens and interact with the equipment. Conair has offered web-enabled controls since 2011, starting first with its FLX material-handling controls and gradually adding the feature to other products until, today, they

Controls with data-gathering capabilities, like the SB-2 blender controls, can generate reports that can be immediately exported to reporting software to facilitate process validation. page 24 u

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production t page 23 Novatec brings Prophecy to auxiliary equipment Novatec, Baltimore, Maryland, has obtained the rights to “wearable” sensor technology from Prophecy Sensorlytics, also a Baltimore-based company. Prophecy takes sensor technology and combines it with Bluetooth and wireless technology to apply 24/7 monitoring and predictive maintenance to the components within auxiliary machinery, according to Novatec. Conrad Bessemer, president and CEO of Novatec, explained that the aim is to make processors more productive. “If processors are just collecting equipment data, the data really doesn’t provide a path to predict what will happen in the future,” he said. “We want to give the processor the ability to predict future failure, rather than waiting for equipment to fail, because that allows the processor to plan for repairs or adjustments during routine maintenance.” Sensors are attached to the outside of a machine, collecting data on vibration, sound, air flow, material flow and temperature changes that could indicate a need for maintenance or predict potential equipment failures.

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Once a baseline has been established, data is collected on a continuous basis using software that is proprietary to the system. If the sensor data shows a variable outside of the approved range, the variation is displayed in a graphic format to provide an immediate visual for equipment operators. “It’s similar to technology in today’s cars that tells drivers when to perform an oil change based on driving patterns, rather than mileage,” Bessemer said. “Here, computers can interpret data using magnetic resonance, vibration and temperature to help the processor avoid unplanned downtime and to schedule maintenance at an appropriate time.” “Within the plastics industry, the skilled maintenance people are stressed – their resources have been stretched, and many go from fire to fire,” Bessemer continued. “We’re helping them be more efficient with their time, because now they can prioritize based on a dashboard provided by the Prophecy sensors.” In addition, Bessemer explained, it’s often the front of the manufacturing facility that receives the attention, so auxiliary equipment monitoring can be overlooked. “Auxiliary equipment often sits outside the process area, so the equipment is isolated in an area where the maintenance technician may not spend time until something goes wrong. By constantly monitoring the equipment, we avoid the run-to-fail situation. That saves the processor time and money, because the one thing a processor can never make up is downtime.” Conclusion The ability to monitor auxiliary equipment as it performs offers distinct advantages to plastics processors, including reduced downtime and the ability to plan for routine maintenance tasks, which leads to a smarter use of resources. The three companies interviewed are making great strides in providing data that makes an immediate impact on processing operations by including advanced sensors and software with auxiliary equipment installations. Process monitoring software providers, such as IQMS, based in Paso Robles, California, also offer controllers that can be attached to existing auxiliary equipment to supply data and coordinate the information with data from other equipment within the facility. And, as mentioned in the introduction of this article, monitoring systems and sensors abound for injection molding machines and tooling. With the addition of detailed information from the auxiliary equipment itself, plastics manufacturers should find themselves with the data needed to run efficiently in all aspects of their operations. n

2015 Transactions

w w w. m o l d i n g b u s i n e s s . c o m

24 | plastics business • summer 2015 MAPP 2015 Quarterly Ad-3rd Quarter.indd 1

7/21/2015 10:34:56 AM


association

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view from 30

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

Casual Friday Includes Fewer Emails at Ice Miller It’s no secret that interpersonal communication has fallen by the wayside. Email has become one of the most preferred methods of communicating with customers and co-workers alike. And, why not? It’s easy, it’s quick and emails can be sent at any time of the day or night. Need to schedule a department meeting? Send an email. Need to send a customer a product/service quote? Send an email. Need to request a last-minute report or move a deadline? Send an email. There is no denying the convenience; however, strict reliance on email comes with a price, namely the loss of more personal and interactive communication. As a result, some companies now are implementing “No Email Fridays” in an effort to get people talking to each other live once more. Ice Miller, LLP, first learned of No Email Fridays from one of its health system clients that had implemented the policy at its facility. According to H. Alan Rothenbuecher, a partner for Ice Miller’s Cleveland, Ohio, office, “The General Counsel said the policy was well received at his hospital. It got people to talk to each other again, made them walk to each other’s offices to talk, pick up the phone to talk live and otherwise just interact with each other outside of the e-communication world. People actually talked to each other for longer and interacted with each other as we should in our society. Everyone’s people skills got better instead of regressing or becoming stagnant.” After reviewing the benefits, Ice Miller decided to test No Email Fridays for certain of its own employees. After seeing many positive results, a year later the firm is discussing making the policy mandatory firm-wide. Rothenbuecher and others in the firm love the new policy. “Some outliers always will send emails, but even those outliers send less than they did before,” he explained. Emailing is a hard habit to break, even for a day. For the most part, however, people have come to embrace the change and Rothenbuecher reported that personal

28 | plastics business • summer 2015

interaction has increased significantly. “With personal interaction has come increased business,” he went on to say. “We, and our clients, are doing better through live interaction, understanding each other and actually talking through issues versus trying to interpret written sentences. The interaction of questions and answers on a live basis allows for greater understanding and promotes efficiency.” Employees have experienced other benefits as well, such as getting more exercise as a result of needing to walk to another office to convey messages. In addition to greater efficiency, Rothenbuecher sees the No Email Friday policy as a way of building stronger relationships with Ice Miller’s clients. “When you call or visit a client in response to an email,” stated Rothenbuecher, “you end up actually having a conversation. You catch up on business issues and what each of you has been doing. You continue to build rapport, which is important in any client relationship. You often hear ‘While I have you on the phone…’ or ‘While you’re here, I need to ask you about something else.’ It saves costs to the client because you can react right away versus having numerous written exchanges via email. It allows for nothing to get lost in the translation.” While email and other forms of electronic communication always will have their place, live communication is making a resurgence and needs to continue to do so. Companies like Ice Miller are finding that policies like No Email Friday mean people spend less time writing out information and more time actually sharing information, while making more personal connections with co-workers and clients alike – something from which everyone can benefit. “I wish everyone would do this,” stated Rothenbuecher. “It’s nice to talk to folks more, either in person or on the phone, rather than only through email.”


Taking Tool Return Documentation to the Next Level at Metro Plastics Technologies Growth is a cornerstone for any successful business. As companies expand and evolve, it’s only natural that their customer bases do as well. Metro Plastics Technologies, Noblesville, Indiana, is no different. Established in 1975, Metro continuously refines its customer base, necessitating a way of keeping track of customer-owned machines and tools over time.

“The last thing anyone wants to do is spend hours, or even days, researching what happened to a tool from five or 10 years ago.”

In the course of its growth as a provider of manufacturing solutions, Metro Plastics has developed a comprehensive system for documenting the return of customers’ tools and equipment. “As the economy grows stronger, people are busier than ever,” remarked Scott Adams, engineering manager for Metro Plastics. “The last thing anyone wants to do is spend hours, or even days, researching what happened to a tool from five or 10 years ago.” In order to cut down on wasted time and resources, Metro began keeping detailed tool shipping records.

“people move from job to job, so 10 years down the road, most individuals have moved on. Combine this with the potential for poor record keeping on the part of the customer and you end up with a lot of confusion.” Which explains why Metro currently keeps its tool shipment records for life, with some records

Metro first implemented its system of tool returns in 1998 and has deviated little from its original process. Once a tool has been selected for return, “We have a summary form that is filled out by the engineering department,” Adams explained. “The form describes the reason for return, inventory levels, actions needed and customer contact information.” Once completed by engineering, the form then is sent around the Metro office to the appropriate parties. The information is verified and added to as necessary before the form is signed off on by all internal parties. A final packet is put together and placed in the ECN (Engineering Change Notice) binder. The front of the ECN binder contains an information log to be filled out with details such as customer name, date, tool mold number, description of change and the ECN number. Finally, based on the ECN number, the packet is filed sequentially in the ECN binder. “Using this method, it takes no longer than 30 seconds to find a packet from five years ago,” said Adams. “If a past customer calls asking about their asset, they simply can be placed on hold while their records are found. The issue is dealt with right then and there.” Individual record packets may contain a variety of documents. However, the most important documents Metro keeps are letters/emails from the customer showing approval to either ship or scrap the tool, as well as the details leading up to the decision. It also is important to keep a record of the individual responsible for giving the approval. As Adams pointed out,

page 30 u

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 29


view from 30 t page 29 dating back to 1998. At some point, older files likely will need to be disposed of; however, Metro has yet to determine when this will take place. Interestingly, Metro does not include pictures of tools in the ECN packets. “In the nine years I have been with Metro, I have never encountered a situation where I wished I had a picture of a shipped tool,” said Adams. Metro ensures all shipped tools are in good shape and ready to run, conducting repairs as necessary and preserving the tool either for transport or storage. According to Adams, “At this moment, keeping pictures on file is not necessary as pictures do not always justify the condition of the tool.” While things may change in the future, currently Metro does not recommend picture documentation. This makes sense considering the number of tools Metro operates for its customers. For smaller customers, Metro may be in charge of as few as five tools. For larger customers, Metro may be responsible for more than 50 tools. Including photos of each and every tool would require more resources and storage space than Metro feels is justifiable. The number of tools per company can affect when a tool is slated for return. Adams stated, “For our larger customers that have 50+ tools, we will keep obsolete tools with no issue unless they direct us to dispose of or ship them back.” For smaller customers with only a few tools, Metro will ask them for disposition of the asset at the time of it becoming obsolete. Doing so allows Metro to make room for additional tools coming in the door. Overall, Metro and its customers have benefitted greatly from the documentation system. As Adams mentioned, Metro’s customers are not always aware of when or even where a tool has been shipped. “Keep in mind that these tools shipped from Metro for a reason,” said Adams. “More than likely, it was because that tool/machine didn’t run very often. As a result, it might be several years down the road before the customer asks for more parts. By that point, the contact person is gone and the last record the customer has in their system was Metro Plastics. Customers always are grateful for our record keeping. Good records today mean greater efficiency tomorrow.”

30 | plastics business • summer 2015

Getting On Board with Shift Changes at Crescent Industries In the past few years, more businesses have begun transitioning away from the standard 24/5 operation schedule in favor of 24/7. Crescent Industries, New Freedom, Pennsylvania, made the transition in 2004 when the need for additional capacity moved the company to expand its hours of operation. At first, the company simply tried adding overtime shifts on the weekends. However, it proved difficult to persuade employees to work a longer week. According to Vice President Eric Paules, “We were paying 50 percent overtime premiums; however, we still were unable to get the productive hours we needed, and our workforce was getting weary of the long hours.”

“We were paying 50 percent overtime premiums; however, we still were unable to get the productive hours we needed, and our workforce was getting weary of the long hours.”

To improve efficiency and employee morale, Crescent decided to bring in outside assistance. “We worked with Shiftwork Solutions LLC, a consulting firm that specializes in shift work policy and change,” Paules said. “They had the research and benchmarks to help us design and implement the change and introduce it to our employees.” In the end, Shiftwork Solutions designed a blended eight and 12-hour schedule. 1st Shift: 7 am-3 pm, Monday through Friday 2nd Shift: 3 pm-11 pm, Monday through Friday 3rd Shift: 11 pm-7 am, Sunday through Thursday E Shift: 11 pm-11 am, Friday and Saturday D Shift: 11 am-11 pm, Saturday and Sunday Each weekend shifter also works one 12-hour shift during the week on a pre-defined day. “By having each weekend shifter work one day with the regular shifts, we maintain continuity and avoid the ‘that’s not how we do it on the weekend shift’ scenario,” said Paules. “They stay connected to the collective


both professionally and socially.” The one downside to this style of shift scheduling is that those who work in other areas of the business, outside of production, don’t see the weekend shifters very often. Naturally, having the employees on board with the changes to the work schedules was vital to its success. The last thing managers wanted was a repeat of previous changes, resulting in long, unproductive shifts. In order to gain employee approval, Crescent offered a high shift premium for weekend shifts, in addition to paying 40 hours for 36 hours worked. This helped compensate for the longer hours and missed weekend activities. Furthermore, weekend shifters had the advantage of saving gas by having fewer commutes. “Even with these premiums, it was a better cost scenario than the overtime premiums and employee burnout,” asserted Paules. Of course, there were other challenges presented by the shift changes. One such obstacle was the issue of holidays. Prior to the transition, Crescent offered 11 paid holidays. Holidays that fell on the weekend would be observed with Paid Time Off (PTO). However, such practice doesn’t work equitably on a 24/7

schedule. The company’s solution was to observe all holidays on the day the holiday actually occurs. Crescent offers nine paid holidays along with 16 hours of PTO, and each employee has the choice to use his or her PTO hours if/when he or she chooses to take an extra day. “A good example is Easter Sunday,” said Paules. “Since it is not one of the paid holidays, we will be open, but many of our weekend shifters will choose to use their PTO to take that day off.” Weekend holidays are tough, but according to Paules, the shift premium and extra four hours of pay weekly helps to “soften the blow.” While the transition to a 24/7 operation schedule may have been rocky at first, it since has hit its stride. Crescent did not want to force employees, many of whom had been there for decades, to work 12-hour shifts if they did not want to work those longer hours. The blended 8/12 schedule has worked out well as an alternative. “We also considered the values of our founders and owners, who desired to respect the Biblical principal of resting on the Sabbath,” said Paules. “We incorporated a policy that no one can work for more than six days without a day of rest – something I think everyone can appreciate.” n

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 31


booklist

Four of the Top Business Books of 2015 by Dianna Brodine

Mark Zuckerberg created a buzz not seen since Oprah’s Book Club when he announced his intention of reading a book every two weeks in 2015 – and sharing his selections. As a result, nearly 430,000 people have “liked” the Facebook page that announces the featured book, which also features discussions with the authors and an online discussion group, and hundreds of thousands more see the announcements on Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit and other communication platforms. While Plastics Business can’t compete with Zuckerberg, four books released in the first six months of 2015 are featured here, along with cover descriptions. These books have been highlighted based on numerous reviews and recommendations from mainstream press, relevance to the Plastics Business audience and – in one case – a personal recommendation. Dealing with China: An Insider Unmasks the New Economic Superpower Author: Hank Paulson Released: April 14, 2015 Hank Paulson has dealt with China unlike any other foreigner. As head of Goldman Sachs, Paulson had a pivotal role in opening up China to private enterprise. Then, as Treasury secretary, he created the Strategic Economic Dialogue with what is now the world’s secondlargest economy. He negotiated with China on needed economic reforms, while safeguarding the teetering US financial system. Over his career, Paulson has worked with scores of top Chinese leaders, including Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful man in decades. In Dealing with China, Paulson draws on his unprecedented access to modern China’s political and business elite, including its three most recent heads of state, to answer several key questions. • How did China become an economic superpower so quickly? • How does business really get done there? • What are the best ways for Western business and political leaders to work with, compete with and benefit from China? • How can the US negotiate with and influence China given its authoritarian rule, its massive environmental concerns and its huge population’s unrelenting demands for economic growth and security? Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World Author: Gen. Stanley McChrystal Released: May 12, 2015 It’s no secret that in any field, small teams have many advantages – they can respond quickly, communicate freely and make decisions without layers of bureaucracy. But organizations taking on really big challenges can’t fit in a garage. They need management practices that can scale to thousands of people.

32 | plastics business • summer 2015

Gen. McChrystal led a hierarchical, highly disciplined machine of thousands of men and women. But to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq, his Task Force would have to acquire the enemy’s speed and flexibility. Was there a way to combine the power of the world’s mightiest military with the agility of the world’s most fearsome terrorist network? If so, could the same principles apply in civilian organizations? McChrystal and his colleagues discarded a century of conventional wisdom and remade the Task Force, in the midst of a grueling war, into something new: a network that combined extremely transparent communication with decentralized decision-making authority. The walls between silos were torn down. Leaders looked at the best practices of the smallest units and found ways to extend them to thousands of people on three continents, using technology to establish a oneness that would have been impossible even a decade earlier. The Task Force became a “team of teams” – faster, flatter, more flexible – and beat back Al Qaeda. Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts – Becoming the Person You Want to Be Author: Marshall Goldsmith Released: May 19, 2015 In Triggers, his most powerful and insightful book yet, Goldsmith shows how we can overcome the trigger points in our lives and enact meaningful and lasting change. Change, no matter how urgent and clear the need, is hard. Knowing what to do does not ensure that we actually will do it. We are superior planners, says Goldsmith, but become inferior doers as our environment exerts its influence through the course of our day. We forget our intentions. We become tired, even depleted, and allow our discipline to drain down like water in a leaky


bucket. In Triggers, Goldsmith offers a simple “magic bullet” solution in the form of daily self-monitoring, hinging around what he calls “active” questions. These are questions that measure our effort, not our results. There’s a difference between achieving and trying; we can’t always achieve a desired result, but anyone can try. In the course of Triggers, Goldsmith details the six “engaging questions” that can help us take responsibility for our efforts to improve and help us recognize when we fall short.

Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead Author: Lazlo Bock Released: April 7, 2015 From the visionary head of Google’s innovative People Operations comes a groundbreaking inquiry into the philosophy of work and a blueprint for attracting the most spectacular talent to your business and ensuring that they succeed.

Filled with revealing and illuminating stories from his work with some of the most successful chief executives and power brokers in the business world, Goldsmith offers a personal playbook on how to achieve change in our lives, make it stick, and become the person we want to be.

Drawing on the latest research in behavioral economics and a profound grasp of human psychology, WORK RULES! also provides teaching examples from a range of industries, including lauded companies that happen to be hideous places to work and little-known companies that achieve spectacular results by valuing and listening to their employees. Bock takes us inside one of history’s most explosively successful businesses to reveal why Google consistently is rated one of the best places to work in the world, distilling 15 years of intensive worker R&D into principles that are easy to put into action, whether you’re a team of one or a team of thousands. n

Editor’s note: Triggers is my personal recommendation. Behavioral change isn’t easy, no matter what behavior you’re trying to modify, and I found this book to be interesting, insightful and – most important – actionable. By learning to identify the triggers in our environments that make change feel impossible and then asking six questions to get back on track, Goldsmith offers a blueprint for change that can last.

www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 33


news

Sun Plastech Announces Acquisition of NOVACHEM Sun Plastech Inc., Parsippany, New Jersey, has signed an agreement to purchase substantially all of the assets of NOVACHEM, Bridgeport, Connecticut. Established in 1989, NOVACHEM has been manufacturing and distributing the SuperNovaTM and Novapurge lines of chemical purging compounds and the InstaPurge® line of mechanical purges. The acquisition expands Sun Plastech’s position as the leading provider of purging compounds in the plastics industry. With the addition of the chemical purging compound product lines, together with the company’s existing ASACLEAN mechanical purging compounds, Sun Plastech can offer its customers a wide array of selections of purging products. These products will help thermoplastics injection molders, extruders, compounders and blow molders maximize their production efficiency by minimizing downtime and reducing scrap. For more information, visit www.asaclean.com.

IQMS Offers Sequencing Software for Automotive Suppliers IQMS, Paso Robles, California, debuted its new automated In-Line Vehicle Sequencing (ILVS) solution. The ILVS application tracks and associates every piece with a reusable tote or container, allowing the required traceability, compliance and parts history documentation required by automotive suppliers. The ILVS application calculates the sequence in which automotive parts are to be packaged based on EDIgenerated sales orders. Manufacturers can create verification labels for each individual part, then scan those items toward the sequenced tote as they are packed. Upon completion, a mixed holding label is generated for the container to be scanned toward a pick ticket, allowing manufacturers to deliver a very specific sequence of parts to a vehicle assembly line with ease. For more information, visit www.iqms.com.

Graham Blow Molder has Capabilities of Larger Systems A new accumulator head blow molder from Graham Engineering, York, Pennsylvania, combines a small shot size and space-saving footprint with onehour color and material changes, precision process control and other advanced features of Graham’s larger systems for industrial parts. Available in three shot sizes – 2.5lb, 5lb or 8lb (1.13, 2.25 or 3.63kg) – the Mini Hercules® blow molder has a footprint of approximately 15x11ft (4.6x3.4m) and a height of 15ft (4.6m). It is available in single- or dual-head configuration and with bottom or side discharge. Platens are designed for easy mold removal. A 75mm smooth extruder and two auxiliary hydraulic valves are standard, with a 90mm smooth or grooved extruder and additional valves as options. Capabilities incorporated in the Graham Mini Hercules blow molder include color/material cleanout in less than an hour and Graham Engineering’s XBM Navigator® PC-based control. For more information, visit www.grahamengineering.com.

RJG Releases Latest Version of eDART System RJG, Traverse City, Michigan, announced updates to versions 9 and 10 of the process monitoring and control system for plastic injection molding applications, eDARTTM. The version 9 update (9.4) includes a user-initiated cross copy for defaults and security files, added support for Lynx protocol 3 and multi-channel strain gage devices and a peak mold open temperature measurement. In addition, the math processing optional tool now allows the integration of digital signals. The version 10 update (10.6.8.2) includes support for the new multi-channel strain gage system, as well as a new safety feature, which will help prevent accidental restart or shutdown of eDART. For more information, visit www.rjginc.com. n

34 | plastics business • summer 2015


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Evaluating Plant Expansion Needs Now that production levels have increased across several major markets affecting the plastics injection molding industry, many processors are wondering if their current assets are enough to handle the growth. Whether acquiring new equipment or assessing facility space for reconfiguration or expansion, decisions should be supported by solid data and analytics. Match supply to demand through forecasting The first step in any expansion/acquisition assessment is to match the demand to the supply by accurately forecasting market need. That’s the first step any time a company is looking at expansion, because if that company can’t forecast or understand its market data, the company can’t expand with any degree of accuracy. Three data points can provide a solid assessment.

by Scott Walton, Harbour Results, Inc.

Market forecasts The forecast information generally isn’t difficult to find. In automotive, for example, there are companies that provide forecasting data for five years out or more by vehicle, region, company model, model refresh and model full changeover. Even if a plastics molder is not in the automotive market, that market’s forecast information is a strong leading indicator of what’s going to happen in the custom injection molding business. If automotive is busy, overall capacity will be tied up as automotive still is one of the largest consumers of plastics of any industry. If the automotive industry is busy, even if the appliance market is flat or slightly down, appliance molders still will be busy because automotive is tying up injection molding capacity – and, there’s only so much to go around. In addition, market forecast information is available in several other industries, including aerospace and packaging. Economic influences There also should be external avenues of research, including data readily available via the internet, for economic data and trends, both domestically and internationally. What’s happening in China and Mexico? Who’s investing in those countries? What’s happening within Europe, in general? What’s happening in the old Eastern Bloc countries? What’s happening in Greece? All these things affect currency.

Scott Walton is chief operating officer of Harbour Results, Inc. Combining operational and financial advisory expertise with industry analysis and thought leadership, Harbour Results delivers results that impact the bottom line. The company specializes in manufacturing, production operations and asset-intensive industries, as well as a number of manufacturing processes, including stamping, tooling, precision machining and plastics. For more information, visit www.harbourresults.com.

Customer surveys A phone call – or better yet, an in-person visit – often can result in valuable information from current customers. Has their quoting activity increased? Are competitors entering the market who could affect current production? What are the customers hearing about future usage from end users or end markets? Market forecasts, economic conditions and customer input provide the data needed for an assessment. Then, processors need to rely on their history and experience over the last several years, applying that data to make a personal estimate, based on what the company traditionally has done to support the customers or the industry. If market analysis shows the aerospace market is kicking up by a certain percentage, processors should be able to link the market data to specific demand by customer, product and region within the aerospace industry. Then, the company should be able to forecast or plan against the demand in that arena.

36 | plastics business • summer 2015


Review utilization trends If the market points to a need for increased production outputs, don’t start building quite yet. A highly utilized plant does not necessarily equal a highly profitable plant. In other words, using all available resources isn’t the same as using them efficiently. When looking at utilization, start by reviewing it on a theoretical basis, not an actual basis. How many hours theoretically are available per machine, and how many hours at standard cycle and standard scrap rate actually are in the capacity plan? Those are known factors. Then, layer in downtime and additional scrap – the ‘actual basis’ factors that are affecting utilization efficiency. As an example, let’s say the standard scrap rate is two percent, but the facility is running at four percent across the board. How many hours could be freed up on every single press in the facility if the scrap rate could be brought down? As another illustration, let’s assume the average part-to-part changeover is 20 minutes. However, it actually takes eight hours because operators are waiting for labor, material or a sign off from the Quality department. All those factors go into calculating true utilization when utilization is viewed as a percentage of scheduled hours.

The way to find efficiency is to perform a process quantity analysis. Use the data to clearly understand the demand characteristics, so there can be an accurate understanding of what has to be done to supply that demand. Usually, the emotional argument is “we’re really busy, so I think we need more people, more machines, more space, etc.,” but many people aren’t doing the math. Understand the capacity calculations and the demand calculations. Make sure to find all the holes in the bucket before investing in new assets. Reassess the current facility Once a company has sealed the cracks in its production inefficiencies, another assessment is necessary before expanding the physical production environment, whether by adding on to a current facility or finding/building a new manufacturing space. Bricks and mortar is a very difficult investment to justify unless a company is cash-rich. If the company has a good forecast and is highly utilized, if waste is under control, if setups and inventory are under control and if the plant is running at 75 percent utilization on a seven-day basis, then a company can page 38 u

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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 37


solutions t page 37 start thinking about adding space. Until then, there are a few places to find available square footage. The first place to look is in existing inventory. How many skids and cubes are occupying valuable space within the facility? Are there one or two primary parts with a consistent forecast that can be moved offsite at a lower monthly cost? It may be more cost effective to store pallets and skids at another location before spending money on bricks and mortar. The smartest person in the building needs to be the scheduling and inventory manager. Poor scheduling and inventory management account for 95 percent of the inefficiencies in every plant we’ve toured. Holding excess inventory not only cuts into available space for production activities, but also masks inefficiencies in scheduling, excess material and setup. It’s also critical to use the current square footage efficiently. Companies sometimes decide to add on to their facilities in order to add machines, when a simple change in layout could accomplish the same thing without a building expansion. Don’t position machines on the production floor in a symmetrical fashion. Symmetry looks great on paper, but it’s not efficient.

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38 | plastics business • summer 2015

Instead, turn every other machine 180 degrees so the backs of the machines face each other. That creates additional room in the front where the operator has to work and less room in the back where the maintenance people need to be less frequently. In general, don’t leave too much work space around machines. The general rule is the more work space available, the less efficient the company is and the easier it is to bring clutter into the process. When there is too much space in a production facility, employees walk around more than they actually work. Now, if the company has plenty of available space and isn’t staring at a potential expansion, the ‘open air’ feeling created by high ceilings and additional space on the production floor can create a pleasant work environment. However, I still would recommend optimizing the work station so one person can work between three or four machines efficiently. A process can’t be leaned out if there’s too much space. When does facility expansion make sense? There are times when building a new facility from the ground up is the best option or when a second building is the right choice, particularly if the new business model is distinctly different than the previous business model. Some questions to ask include the following: • Is the new business different or the same as current business? If the new business driving the need for expansion is more of the same business already secured by the company, it’s almost always better to increase the footprint of a current facility, rather than duplicating resources across two facilities. • Is the age of the current building a factor? Sometimes, it’s easier and more cost effective to start in a new building with the right process cooling system, HVAC, quick disconnect power, control systems, etc. rather than trying to retrofit a current facility. • Is the current facility landlocked? • If the current facility is leased, can the company get out of the lease in a timely enough fashion to get into another one? As a general guideline, if a company is running on a five-day basis with more than 85 percent true utilization after cleaning up waste, it makes sense to look at adding another press, another shift or overtime flex. If a company is at 75 percent true utilization on a seven-day basis, expansion is a viable option. But, before investing in assets – whether equipment or bricks and mortar – be sure to have an accurate understanding of both market and economic factors, factor in true utilization numbers and assess the physical environment within the current facility. Too many companies are making expensive decisions based on gut feelings, not facts. n


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focus

Ensuring Product Purity in Plastic Recycling Product purity is an extremely important consideration in plastic recycling. Whether processing is done for in-house production or regrind is prepared for resale, a major factor in achieving product purity is eliminating metal contamination. Removing metal from recycled plastic cannot be done with a single piece of equipment, but requires a series of magnetic, metal detection and conveying components engineered as a complete process or system. Although a plastic recycling system can take any number of configurations, this article will feature two typical plant layouts showing how metal contaminants can be eliminated. A simple plastic recycling system Figure 1 shows a basic plastic recycling system for shredding postconsumer or internal scrap plastic. The key components are labeled. Product purity in a basic system such as this begins when postconsumer, internal scrap or purgings are fed into a shredder or grinder. Typically, a shredder infeed conveyor is used to feed material into the shredder, and a discharge conveyor is used to convey the shredded material to secondary processing. At this point, key magnetic and metal detection equipment should be added to the system to protect equipment and ensure product purity. A tunnel-style metal detector is used on the infeed conveyor to detect larger pieces of metal, which can damage the shredder and grinder knives. The metal detector should be set to stop material flow on the infeed conveyor belt when metal is sensed, permitting manual removal of the contaminant. This critical first step in the product purification process protects shredder knives.

by Don Suderman, Bunting Magnetics Co.

Metal detector sensitivity generally is based on the aperture opening size. The infeed conveyor metal detector usually has a large aperture to handle the flow volume at this point, and thus will have a lower sensitivity than smaller aperture detectors used Figure 1 Grinder Feeder Conveyor (Hockey Stock) Shredder Discharge Conveyor or Dragslide without Metal Detector or Crossbelt Magnetic Separator

Magnetic Crossbelt Conveyor (option to Metal Detector or addition to Metal Detector)

Gaylord Dumper

Don Suderman is product manager for material handling equipment at Bunting Magnetics Co. He holds five patents, three of which pertain to magnetic devices. Bunting Magnetics Co. is a full-line supplier of metal detection and magnetic separation equipment, as well as specialized conveyors for use in recycling plants. For more information, contact Suderman at dsuderman@ buntingmagnetics.com.

Flip Gate Reject tied to Metal Detector

Single Axis Shredder S or D Coil Metal Detector

Clean Shredded Plastic

Tramp Metal Box

40 | plastics business • summer 2015

Grinder Shredder Feeder Conveyor with Metal Detector to Protect Shredder Knives


downstream. The infeed conveyor tunnel-style (sometimes called loop-style) metal detector should be specified with the smallest aperture possible to maximize detection sensitivity, yet large enough to handle the flow size and volume of the raw material input. Even large metal detector coils are very capable of sensing larger pieces of metal that may be inside a purging or even inside a bale of film or carpet. Capturing metal at this point can eliminate or minimize expensive rotor or knife repairs and nonproductive downtime. It also is far more productive to remove larger contaminants before shredding than to detect and remove hundreds of miniscule metal pieces that have been shredded. Clearly, no standard off-the-shelf metal detector is appropriate in such situations. Plastic recyclers should work with a knowledgeable metal detector supplier that can address any of the myriad application scenarios possible. It also is important that the shredder infeed conveyor with a metal detector be designed as a basic part of the system to maximize effectiveness and return on investment. To minimize vibration faults, engineers designing such systems should ensure that the conveyor does not come in direct contact with the shredder. And, to minimize outside stray electromagnetic field interference, shredder

Whether processing is done for in-house production or regrind is prepared for resale, a major factor in achieving product purity is eliminating metal contamination. Removing metal from recycled plastic cannot be done with a single piece of equipment, but requires a series of magnetic, metal detection and conveying components engineered as a complete process or system. control panels and drives should not be positioned near the coil. Gaylord dumpers or other infeed devices should not be in direct page 42 u

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focus t page 41 contact with the infeed hoppers, because that can cause shock or vibration faults. Finally, to maximize metal detector sensitivity and effectiveness, the conveyor should be designed with appropriate metal-free zones, nonmoving metal zones, a nonmetallic belt splice and a welded frame with isolation features. An additional horizontal feeder conveyor may be required ahead of the inclined conveyor on larger systems. In such cases, the metal detector can be placed on the lower horizontal feeder conveyor, making metal contaminants easier to remove at ground level. Metal detectors on these units even may be mounted on independent stands to further isolate the detector coil from the shock loading of purgings or rolls of film being dropped onto the conveyor. While this adds some expense, it often produces a smoother running system in high-volume operations. The second essential step toward product purity involves magnetic and/or metal detection separation after the shredding process. Shredded plastic usually is conveyed from a shredder by means of a “hockey stick”-style belted shredder discharge conveyor. The shredded plastic should be further cleaned as it is being conveyed from the shredder up to a secondary grinder/granulator, a Gaylord box or an extruder.

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42 | plastics business • summer 2015

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A plate-style under-belt metal detector on the inclined section of the hockey stick shredder discharge conveyor will sense all forms of metal contamination, including aluminum and both ferrous and nonferrous metals. A conveyor flip gate on the discharge of this conveyor then can separate out any metal contamination from the shredded plastic material without stopping the shredded product stream, by sensing the metal as it goes over the metal detector. In certain installations, the metal detector should be combined with an overhead magnetic overband/crossbelt conveyor to minimize metal detector rejections by removing most of the ferrous metal contamination ahead of the metal detector. In cases where ferrous metal contamination is minimal, a plate magnet suspended over the inclined belt ahead of the metal detector may be sufficient. This added magnetic protection reduces the amount of plastic rejected along with any metal contamination. Running this discharge conveyor faster than normal lowers the product burden on the belt, improves magnetic ferrous removal and reduces the volume of product rejected by the metal detector. Plastic film recycling to an extruder An example of a shredded film to extruder system is shown in Figure 2 on page 44. As mentioned previously, larger recycling systems of this type usually call for an additional horizontal metal detection inspection conveyor, prior to the inclined feeder conveyor, to inspect the film after the manual bale break station. It is possible to lengthen this horizontal feeder conveyor to accommodate multiple page 44 u


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focus t page 42 Figure 2

– Grinder Feeder Conveyor S Coil Metal Detector (optional) Extruder Crossbelt Magnetic Separator (optional) D Coil Metal Detector Shredder Protection

Grinder Feeder Conveyor (Hockey Stick) Shredder/Discharge Conveyor or Dragslide Conveyor

Shredder

Bale Brake Station with Work Mezzanine

Gaylord Dumper

Bale Infeed Area Forklift Loading Slots

Grinder Feeder Shredder Conveyor Grinder Feeder Conveyor (Inspection Station) with Metal Detector

Gaylord dumping stations along one or both sides of this conveyor. And, depending on the method utilized to load material into this system, a separately isolated metal detector mounting base might be appropriate to minimize vibration interference. On the output side of the shredder, a magnetic crossbelt conveyor is recommended to separate any metal fines not detected on the input side of the shredder. This removes as much fine ferrous material as possible from the stream prior to the under-belt metal detector. Plastic film exiting from a shredder often clings to fabric discharge conveyor belts because of static cling, causing a housekeeping issue under the conveyor. Antistatic belts and grounded conveyors may help, but not eliminate the problem. One possible solution to a static cling problem is a beltless enclosed drag-style conveyor to move the shredded film from the shredder directly to the extruder infeed. Although this eliminates static carryover issues, it prevents installing a metal detector between the shredder and the extruder. In such cases, the drag slide conveyor usually is equipped with an extremely strong rare earth plate magnet in the discharge chute area. Finally (depending on the eventual use of the extruded plastic), additional magnets and metal detectors often are very useful downstream. Product purification is a process, employing multiple magnets and metal detectors in the product stream. Downstream equipment usually has a smaller aperture to detect even finer pieces of metal. The exact type of equipment and number required may vary depending on whether the plastic is in flake or pellet form at this point.

44 | plastics business • summer 2015

When ground plastic pneumatically is conveyed from the granulator to storage, several additional pneumatic and/or gravity metal detectors can be installed into the system. These perform a final inspection, ensuring maximum purification before the product is sent to a silo, Gaylord box or extruder. Such smaller aperture, higher sensitivity metal detectors are excellent for final removal of all forms of metal fines. If the plastic has been extruded into a pelleted form, an extremely strong rare earth drawer filter and/or machine-mounted metal detector can be positioned directly on the throat of the machine for maximum protection. These extremely strong cartridge magnets can catch and hold ferrous fines even if inside a pellet. If ferrous and nonferrous metal contamination occurs at this point, placing a magnetic drawer filter directly atop a machinemounted metal detector will provide the additional protection to eliminate all metal contamination and minimize good product pellet rejection. Summary Product purification in plastic recycling is a process requiring multiple key components for eliminating metal contamination through the shredding process. With key magnetic separation, metal detection and material handling equipment in place, carefully selected to complement each other, those recycling plastics can achieve greater productivity and produce purer product. These basic components should be incorporated into the shredder or grinder system when it is first installed, to ensure adequate equipment protection and maximum product purity. n


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strategies

Benefits that Attract and Retain Employees by Dan Regovich, AJ Augur Group, LLC

What attracts prospects to your company? Conversely, what drives employees away from your company? There are many reasons people change jobs. I don’t know that I could pinpoint the one reason that is the most common, but it typically is due to some kind of pain being experienced in the work life which ultimately affects the personal life. These “pain points” often have a simple solution that can be met through an employee benefits system. In my experience, there are several benefits, both tangible and intangible, that can attract employees to your company and keep them there – or drive them away. Corporate success A company’s financial success or potential for success i s a very big attraction. Although a financially successful company doesn’t guarantee it also is a great place to work, it certainly helps in attracting new employees. Most people don’t want to work for a financially distressed company, and financially distressed companies usually don’t attract top talent. If those companies do bring on top talent, the odds of someone sticking around for a long time are slim. Medical benefits We all know that our health care system is a mess and has become extremely expensive. This subject is not cut-and-dried, but I have observed something interesting regarding health care benefits. I have dealt with several European companies with operations here in the US, and these European companies provide very inexpensive, but excellent, health care coverage for their US employees. Some of these companies even pick up either the entire cost or the vast majority of it. Whenever recruiting for one of these companies, my job of finding top talent becomes much easier, because everyone is worried about health care coverage. These days, when a candidate is considering an offer of employment, it is not only the base salary that matters. Vacation I have seen companies with vacation policies in which all new employees start at two weeks (or less), no matter how “senior level.” It’s hard to attract top talent when a person who currently has four weeks of vacation is contemplating a job move that only will give them two weeks of leave because of an antiquated vacation policy that everyone claims not to have the power to

46 | plastics business • summer 2015

change. I have seen bad vacation policies keep companies from hiring the prospects they really wanted. Bonuses/commissions If there is one very effective way for an employer to cultivate disgruntled employees, it’s to make a bonus or commission structure so confusing that nobody understands it. Then, add more frustration when it comes time to pay out: let the employee know that they didn’t meet the goals that weren’t clearly understood in the first place and that they will receive little to no money. One thing I have learned is that if a bonus/commission structure is so complicated that employee prospects don’t understand it, they probably won’t get paid much, if anything. I always recommend that those interviewing for a new job ask about the average percentage of base salary that was paid out as a bonus/ commission in the previous year and which years didn’t receive a bonus payout at all. Employers should be fair in what is paid page 48 u


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strategies t page 46 to employees and resist changing the bonus or commission structure simply because an employee has earned a large payout. Work environment This subject is a little trickier, but we all know companies with a great reputation and those with… less than a great reputation… as a place to work. I think the best description to illustrate a not-sogreat environment was given by Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great. In talking about the importance of recognizing an employee who is not performing and shouldn’t be working for a company, he said, “Letting the wrong people hang around is unfair to all the right people, as they inevitably find themselves compensating for the inadequacies of the wrong people. Worse, it can drive away the best people. Strong performers are intrinsically motivated by performance, and when they see their efforts impeded by carrying the extra weight, they eventually become frustrated.” I would add that being short-staffed also will frustrate the strong performers in any company as they “carry the extra weight” of job functions that still need to be performed. It’s one thing to be lean – it’s another to have unrealistic expectations of someone’s work load. No room for advancement In small plants or small companies, there may not be much that can be done, but even in smaller locations, I have seen people who are content in their jobs when small changes are made. For instance, when they were trained to take on new responsibilities while shedding some of the old responsibilities to someone else. Good employees thrive when they are learning and doing something new. Interview process This might seem like a strange item to mention in a list of employee benefits, but I have seen companies lose a candidate they really want on numerous occasions when they’ve taken too much time to make a decision. Good candidates find other jobs when there’s a long hiring process for two basic reasons. 1. The candidate sees the amount of time it takes a company to hire as an indication the company is indecisive or incompetent. Nobody wants to work for a company like that, and the candidates often turn down an offer or pull themselves out of the running. 2. Typically, once an individual makes up his or her mind to leave a company and actually start interviewing, the new job prospect keeps on applying and interviewing with several companies. The companies that move more quickly usually win. People On top of everything else I have mentioned, what attracts new employees to a company is its people. Companies that are doing

48 | plastics business • summer 2015

Being short-staffed also will frustrate the strong performers in any company as they “carry the extra weight” of job functions that still need to be performed. It’s one thing to be lean – it’s another to have unrealistic expectations of someone’s work load. many of the right things tend to retain good people, which in turn attracts more good people. Much of how people are treated within a work environment starts from the head of the company and works its way down. The companies that see people as their most important asset often are great places to work because they treat their employees as valued contributors of success. The companies that see their employees as dispensable usually treat their employees that way, and the resulting work atmosphere leaves much to be desired by both current and prospective employees. Whether recruiting new employees or enticing those already in place to remain, the benefits offered can far exceed the value of the salary paid. n Dan Regovich is the owner and operator of AJ Augur Group LLC, a search firm that specializes in the United States plastics industry. He has been recruiting since 1997 and has filled critical positions all over the country, including sales and marketing, operations, engineering, R&D, quality and human resources. AJ Augur fills 95 percent of the positions the company promotes by using a proven search process and has built a solid reputation within the plastics search and recruitment industry. For more information call 440.357.7600 or email Regovich at dregovich@ajaugur.com.


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Plastics Business - Summer 2015  

Plastics Business - Summer 2015