For more than 25 years, Evco Plastics Inc. has sponsored a work-study program with its hometown high school in DeForest, Wis. That's a big reason why the custom injection molder has won the PN Excellence Award for industry and public service.
The family owned company celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014. Evco held events around the world, including at its plants in Mexico and China. In DeForest, the company invited 800 of its local friends and colleagues to an outdoor party to hear music, dance and have some food and drink. They took factory tours.
More plastics processors are starting to link up with local high schools, as a way to interest young people in manufacturing careers. Evco has a long-term commitment of partnering with DeForest High School's cooperative education program. Over the years, Evco has hosted students in the accounting, customer service and engineering departments. These young people often return to Evco after college. In fact, Evco currently employs five past co-op students.
Last year, Evco also introduced The Legacy Project, a pledge to provide two scholarships a year — one to a local DeForest-area student, the other to a child of an Evco employee. The scholarships are intended for students who are interested in engineering or a similar technical degree.
President Dale Evans understands that finding skilled young workers — and enthusiastic ones — is one of the industry's most pressing issues. To that end, Evco also gives plant tours several times a year for local students and teachers. The company also holds some technical classes in its facilities.
The DeForest Area Chamber of Commerce is working on recruiting young people. Evco supports the effort. Richard Duval, director of quality and human resources, serves on the board of directors. Amy Ruehlow, human resources manager, is active on the chamber's education committee. The Evco officials even travel with the chamber to see how other regions of Wisconsin tackle the issue.
And Evco also does more-traditional local charitable work, such as helping with Relay for Life, hosting blood drives, working in food drives and sponsoring weight-loss challenges.
Evco employs 1,000 people at nine factories worldwide, and the company was a plastics industry trailblazer in setting up a mold-making plant in China back in 1989. But the local public service efforts show that Evco retains its family feeling, a big player in its small town near Madison, Wis.