Vermont custom injection molder GW Plastics Inc., the latest Plastics News Processor of the Year, is best known for its transformation from mainly an automotive supplier into a well-known medical molder. But there's much more to the GW story.
The process took 10 years, and GW was already doing some medical work. So company officials already understood that medical, while certainly alluring to many plastics processors during these troubled economic times, comes with a giant barrier to entry.
It takes time, money, patience, commitment and a professional approach. That describes GW.
Frederic Riehl led a group of GW managers and outside investors to buy the company in 1983 from Standard Oil Co. For Sohio, GW was no longer a “core business.” Since then, GW has been blessed with strong, consistent ownership that combines plastics know-how with business smarts. In the 1990s, the company expanded to the Southwest, then — in a single year, 2005 — Mexico and China. His son, Brenan Riehl, is the top executive.
GW long has been considered a leading U.S. molder in the use of full automation, mold-cavity pressure sensing and scientific molding. GW simply doesn't make many bad parts. It's about more than technology. At GW plants, large color photographs of longtime employees grace the hallways, honoring the people who really count.
The company was nominated by Bill Carteaux, president and CEO of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. in Washington.
Senior reporter Bill Bregar visited the finalists, each of which is impressive. (Videos about each finalist can be found at plasticsnews.com/video.)
Montrose Molders Corp., a family-owned injection molder in South Plainfield, N.J., can reliably meet tight deadlines — an important trait in its biggest market, retail displays. The top executive, William H. Wilson, son of founder William B. Wilson, is by trade a down-to-earth toolmaker, but his team is taking Montrose in the right direction with new presses and systems for press monitoring, quality and inventory tracking. Montrose Molders was nominated by its vice president of sales, Todd Nicolay.
Plastikos Inc. injection molds connectors from liquid-crystal polymers. That's a tough business, but Plastikos brings many years of experience in making connector molds. The plant in Erie, Pa., boasts underground resin and utilities, and a high degree of automation and quality control. Ownership has passed to the second generation: Philip Katen, president and general manager; his brother, Ryan Katen, the engineering manager; project manager Mike Mead; and manufacturing manager Robert Cooney. Dan Snyder, who works in technical sales at Plastikos, nominated his company for the award.
PolyPipe Inc. of Gainesville, Texas, a major extruder of polyethylene pressure pipe, was also a finalist last year. Under CEO Jim Moore and his management team, PolyPipe is advancing into water pipe and pipe for nuclear power plants. People are as important as technology to the company, evidenced by its addition of a Six Sigma black belt to head quality and a full-time safety manager.
J.C. Goodson, president of pipe distributor Rainmaker Sales Inc., nominated PolyPipe.