The group was founded last year by R&D/Leverage, a design and mold-making firm in Lee's Summit, Mo., and already has more than 60 members.
Speaking Feb. 24 at the 2014 Plastics News Executive Forum in Wesley Chapel, R&D/Leverage executive Robert Schiavone cited a study in which more than 90 percent of manufacturers reported having “severe to moderate” problems in finding employees.
“There's a perception issue of manufacturing jobs as low-paying, dirty jobs,” said Schiavone, who serves as R&D Leverage's global marketing director. “We need to remove walls of protection against each other and reach young adults.”
The strength of the U.S. plastics market sometimes gets overlooked because of this perception, Schiavone added. The industry is the third-largest manufacturing business in the U.S., based on value of annual shipments. It employs more than 885,000 at 16,200 facilities and has an annual trade surplus of $16.3 billion.
Support Plastics USA is compiling a database where its members can share contact information and success stories of plastic products designed, engineered and made in the U.S. Recent efforts by Support Plastics USA members include:
• R&D/Leverage sponsoring a blow molding program at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kan.
• Blow mold maker Century Die Co. of Fremont, Ohio, hosting a manufacturing business tour and sponsoring a soap box derby
• Injection mold maker BA Die Mold Inc. of Aurora, Ill., funding a scholarship program
• Educational work done by tooling components maker Progressive Components International Corp. of Waucaonda, Ill., and piping components maker Georg Fischer Central Plastics of Shawnee, Okla.