Two plastics manufacturers recently received Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year awards. Freedom Plastics Inc., based in Janesville, received the Phoenix award, while Minia-ture Precision Components Inc. of Walworth won a special award in the ``competitiveness'' category. The ceremony was Feb. 29 in Milwaukee.
Much as the mythical phoenix rose out of ashes and refused to die, Freedom Plas-tics Inc. has risen out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy to become an industry competitor. In 1989, two years after filing for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bank-ruptcy code, members of inside management and local business people purchased the firm and began rebuilding.
Freedom Plastics produces PVC pipe and fittings. During the past six years, fittings sales have risen from $1.7 million to $5.5 million. In 1995, the company began building a new plant to increase pipe production and purchased land to expand its fittings production.
The new, 75,000-square-foot building houses the larger-diameter - 8- to 18-inch - production equipment. The company's smaller-diameter products, those from 11/2-6 inches, are produced in the original building. Freedom Plastics has eight production lines, and will extrude 85 million pounds of piping this year. It tied for 42nd place in Plastics News' ranking of North Ameri-can pipe, profile and tubing manufacturers, with sales of $35 million for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1995.
Freedom Plastics has created work cell teams and has established a Workplace Edu-cation Center for its 130 employees.
Miniature Precision Com-ponents received the ``competitiveness'' award as a result of investing in its employees. MPC makes thermoplastic parts assemblies for the automotive industry.
One way the company has remained competitive is through an intensive training program and by maintaining positive relations with its em-ployees. Each of its 750 workers receives an average of 40 hours of training per year. MPC offers more 30 developmental programs for employees.
MPC also invests 3 percent of its annual sales - which totaled $64 million last year - in research and development. One recent development was an emissions-monitoring de-vice required on all new vehicles made in the United States.