CORONADO, CALIF. — A ``phenomenal work ethic'' propels Paul Appelblom, according to his associates, and that dedication contributed to his receipt of the 1999 Western Plastics Award.
The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s Western Region accorded the honor to its outgoing chairman at a banquet during the region's conference, held May 5-8 in Coronado.
Appelblom is president, chief executive officer and a principal owner of Jatco Inc., an injection molder and assembler in Union City, Calif.
``He still gets there at 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning,'' Michael Smith said in an interview. Smith, who headed the award-selection committee, is general manager for the western region of Husky Injection Molding Systems Inc. in Costa Mesa, Calif.
Smith used poetry to announce the award. He described the unassuming Appelblom sweeping floors and cleaning machines at Precision Plastics at age 13, getting an engineering degree from — and finishing second in his class at — California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo and, early in his double-shift career, working days at Crown Manufacturing and evenings at Jatco.
Smith talked about Appelblom as a wannabe golfer with motorcycle dreams, scuba diving aspirations and a strong dedication to his profession.
``Paul has a very keen instinct for industry trends'' and an unusual ability to stay ahead of the market, Jatco customer Kristin Shannon said in a telephone interview. She is chairman and chief executive officer of Primordial LLC of San Francisco.
His two-year term as Western Region chairman ends May 31, but Appelblom has accepted an invitation to serve on the national SPI Processors Council now being formed and, separately, agreed to take on responsibility for the region's Molders Division.
``It is gratifying,'' he said of the council assignment, ``because after a couple years [dealing with SPI issues] you can make more intelligent decisions.''
He applauds inclusion of the regions as nonvoting members of the SPI executive council. ``We never had it before,'' he said. ``I think it is great that the regions are going to work in concert with each other, something that has only happened in the past five to six years.''
SPI's regions are located in Irvine, Calif., for the West; Chicago for the Midwest; Pembroke, Mass., for the Northeast; and Greenville, S.C., for the South.
He estimated the national program evaluation and implementation would take one year.
SPI and the American Plastics Council continue to work together through the government affairs office in Sacramento, Calif. ``We are not going to let what is happening between the two echelons in Washington impact what we do in the West,'' he said. ``It is critical that business is as usual.''
Factions are not his style. ``Calmer heads have to prevail,'' Appelblom said. ``Resin companies wouldn't be successful without processors, and processors wouldn't be successful without resin companies. When are they going to learn they need to work together? We are sitting here at loggerheads, going nowhere.''
In February, Jatco added two 450-ton Milacron injection presses, bringing its total to 30 with a range of 28-1,000 tons. ``We continue to expand'' he said, reflecting on Jatco's 23 years ``and only one year of negative sales growth.''
Sales in 1998 exceeded $17 million with the largest niche in industrial products. Appelblom expects a 13 percent increase this year.
Technology accounts for 10-15 percent, but ``we make a strong point of not focusing on Silicon Valley'' business, he said.
Jatco employs 200-245, occupies 102,000 square feet and has run seven days, 24 hours for the past 10 years, he said. Jatco also handles design, assembly, packaging, warehousing and shipment.