Plastic Components Inc. had a busy 2014: It built a house, earned a patent, spun off a business, added presses and expanded its staff.
The Germantown, Wis.-based injection molder also moved up four notches to No. 5 in Plastics News' Best Places to Work ranking.
All in all, a successful year, said owner and President Tom Duffey.
“The success of an organization is directly tied to the culture of that organization,” Duffey said in a recent phone interview. “Success doesn't occur in a vacuum. It's the result of a cumulative effort over time. The most important thing is to have a healthy, positive workplace.”
Plastic Components encourages fitness and positivity, and combined the two by building a house for Habitat for Humanity in nearby Jackson, Wis.
“It's the hardest work I've done since I was 21 years old,” he said. “For two consecutive Fridays in August — they might have been the hottest of the year — we were mixing cement, laying cinderblock and gravel. It was hard! But it was quite enjoyable. I'd do it again.”
Duffey was proud to report that a family moved into the house Jan. 10 “and it hasn't caved in yet.”
Annual sales are up to $21.5 million for the company that created 10 jobs last year, increasing its workforce to about 60, Duffey said. PCI now has 54 presses, after adding six in 2014.
PCI split off its adjacent prototype molds facility Dec. 31 as a standalone company: Engineering Resource Center Inc. Duffey's son, Ryan, is now owner and president of that company and will remain vice president of PCI through a transition period.
Tom Duffey is thinking of more than doubling space at the ERC to 32,000 square feet and could break ground by the end of this year.
“I think we will need [the] additional capacity in 2016,” he said.
At another site, the company's lights-out facility has been running smoothly around the clock since 2011, Duffey said. And, it has earned the company a process patent.
“The way we put it together is so proprietary and so unique, nobody else in the country is doing what we do [there].”
Education for all
PCI is heavily involved in apprenticeship and internship programs for potential employees, as well as training for existing employees.
Each year, the company hires two summer interns from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., and pays for all their housing costs. For four years now, PCI has hired one of the interns as a regular employee.
PCI also sponsors two students from the GPS Education Partners program, based in Butler, Wis., at a cost of about $6,000 each. Participating high school juniors and seniors — who have struggled in a typical classroom for various reasons — take alternative classes at school in the morning for two hours, then report to work at PCI as youth apprentices.
“They are assigned a mentor in our facility and they slowly gain more responsibility,” Wendi Jay, PCI human resources manager, said in an email.
PCI pays for their classes in the GPS program, and pays the students minimum wage while they're in class and at work.
“We started in September and the difference in these kids from the day they walked in — having never had a job in their lives and not being able to complete typical employment forms — to today, adding value every day here at PCI, has been phenomenal,” Jay said.
For existing employees — including 17 who have been with the company more than 15 years — PCI offers mentoring, job shadowing and cross training, leadership and productivity workshops, financial education and on-site personal development workshops.
“We've got some wily old veterans complemented by some great young talent,” Duffey said.
PCI provides matching funds for its retirement program, health benefits to full-time employees, health club reimbursement, 13 paid holidays and 12 paid-time-off days after one year.
The company this year won the Plastics News' Sustained Excellence Award, and was PN's Processor of the Year in 2008. The company received a Manufacturing Leadership Award in 2013, was Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year in 2009.