MILLVILLE, UTAH -- Brett Hadfield didn't entirely set out to become a plastics man.
But after seven years as comptroller at Silicone Plastics Inc., a small plastics company in Millville, Utah, he is now a plastics man through and through: As of Jan. 1, he became the company's owner.
"It's always been a dream of mine to own and operate and build a business," he said in a telephone interview. "It wasn't always a dream to be in plastics, but since getting into it, I've gotten excited about it and all its opportunities."
Hadfield is a Millville native who said he saw an opportunity to keep a local business local when previous owner Steve Miller, who bought the business in 1991, announced his plans late last year to resign and serve on a church mission.
The 49-person company has a handful of its own products, including a folding, child-sized picnic table — the patented plastic "Kidnic table." It also produces a line of dairy milkers (the part of a milking machine that attaches to a cow's udder), designed in the early 1980s with a plastic resin housing and silicone liner — hence the company's name, though it does little silicone work these days.
"The majority of our business is that we're a for-hire custom molding shop," Hadfield said.
Silicone Plastics offers custom injection molding, with 12 Toshiba presses with 45-950 tons of clamping force, full-service precision mold making and a Class 100,000 clean room molding environment. A large part of its business is in electronics, and the company also has customers in the food and beverage, appliance, medical and construction sectors.
The majority of his customers are in Utah, Hadfield said, but in the global economy, that doesn't mean that many of the company's products stay in-state. "It's business-to-business sales for the most part. We have some customers from outside the state, but a lot of our work is for local business with different end uses," he said. "One of our customers is just down the road a few miles but they sell their product all over the world. So our parts end up worldwide even though we're just shipping them down the road."
The newly minted owner/operator's plans include some diversification into even more markets, but Hadfield said his ultimate goal is to add secondary operations, including assembly, direct shipping, putting together instruction manuals, packaging and whatever else a customer needs. "We would like to be not just a mold shop, and more of a business partner," he said.
Expanding capabilities and providing more services would also mean keeping more business in the U.S., said Hadfield, who is out to prove to customers that they don't have to go overseas to get their product to market in a fast and affordable way, without sacrificing quality and precision.
"People thought they had to go to China to get a finished product, packaged and ready to go," he said. "That takes about eight weeks. But a U.S. company can actually be quicker to market if they don't have to go to China, and we can be faster at solving problems, more nimble. Plus, they can come here and make adjustments to how a product is being made without having to fly overseas or waste a lot of time. ... When you look at the whole process, from the beginning all the way down to shipping costs, it's actually quite comparable and you can go see your product made."
Making that pitch to customers — landing accounts and making sales — is one of the biggest changes in going from employee to owner/operator, said Hadfield, who is becoming even more hands-on in his new role.
"I thought that I was involved in most or all of the management decisions before but I'm finding that when you're the one signing your name on everything, it's all a little different. I want to talk to everyone about everything," he said.
The change also means seeing a business Hadfield already knew from new, ever-expanding angles.
"I'm just looking forward to keeping the company moving forward and we're always open to discussing new products and ideas," he said. "There's thousands of amazing products that are being created all the time and it's fun and exciting to hear about them and meet some of these people who we hope become business partners."