Injection molder 21st Century Plastics Corp. is undergoing a leadership change as founder Gordon Wright is retiring and the company has been sold to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan.
Wright, 67, a majority owner, said in a telephone interview April 15 that he will assume the title of chairman, and existing management will move up to take the day-to-day leadership roles. The selling stakeholders are providing long-term financing to facilitate the transaction.
If you sell, once you do the deal no one cares what happens I do care about the employees and I want to be sure when I drive by that they'll still be there, Wright said.
The Potterville, Mich.-based company will draw on its current management team to continue operations. Greg Dobie is the new president. He was a minority shareholder and former vice president for 21 years. Craig Wright, Gordon's son, has been with the company 17 years and is moving up from engineering manager to vice president. Kate Nowicki is the new controller, changing from accountant.
I have faith in the company we built and in the customers. All the stakeholders will be working in the same direction, said Gordon Wright.
An ESOP is a trust set up for employees under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act. Full-time employees get shares that can be cashed in a certain time, like retirement or moving to new job. So, they will be the new stakeholders in the company.
The company got its start in 1988, doing subcontracting work in a small building. It grew by taking on automotive work, and Wright credits the discipline from that work for enabling it to take on other types of work.
Up until 2000 we did mostly automotive, but then we transitioned to other types, like furniture fortunately for us, because if we stayed put, we might not be in business now, Wright said.
The TS/ISO-registered company makes components for office furniture, and cinema, auditorium and stadium seating. The seating components are for such places as Yankee Stadium in New York, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Spartan Stadium at Michigan State and Michigan Stadium at the University of Michigan.
Currently 21st Century operates in a 70,000-square-foot plant built in 2005. The company has 75 employees, and 16 molding machines with up to 1,000 tons of clamping force and with shot capacities of up to 240 ounces.
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