One long-standing, often-cited problem in the plastics industry is the shortage of skilled workers. Automotive injection molder Team 1 Plastics Inc. is meeting that challenge by training and promoting from within, giving employees the opportunity to advance.
The Albion, Mich., company — which employs 68 and ranks No. 9 on Plastics News' Best Places to Work list this year — offers workers the chance to participate in several training programs. Interested employees of the Tier 2 and 3 supplier are paid to work additional shifts while they are trained in areas other than their primary positions.
For example, once employees are certified in the “captain in training” program, which teaches them to set up presses, they are next in line to be promoted to team captain. The automotive injection molder also provides training programs for quality assistants and material handlers.
“It's been a positive experience for us,” President Craig Carrel said recently by phone.
“To fill certain positions has been a difficult proposition,” he said. But the company has long-term team members with good track records who are willing to learn. “We know their work ethic.”
That work ethic and team effort have helped produce “one of our proudest achievements,” Carrel said: Team 1 has gone more than 5,200 days — more than 14 years — without a work-stoppage accident.
“The length of it now is kind of mind-boggling,” he said.
Team 1 also helps workers through mentoring, workshops and formal leadership education. It encourages staff members who take on leadership roles in volunteer events in the community. Among other programs, the company supports Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, which mails free books to children once a month. Team 1 also sponsors a free admission day to the Kids & Stuff Museum in Albion.
To keep the lines of communication open, Carrel and co-owner Gary Grigowski, who is vice president, share financial information with employees by holding monthly open-book meetings and briefing them on strategic planning. The firm posts monthly quality statistics on monitors in the break room.
Bonuses are paid quarterly to all team members based on hours worked and projected year-end operating profit over a specific goal. Part of a bonus pool is divided equally among 401(k) participants who contribute 3 percent of more.
And then there's the free food and tickets to sporting events and family entertainment, an employee assistance program and financial education workshops.
The benefits are made possible by the Tier 2 and 3 supplier's continuing business growth, though Carrel said some assembly projects are coming to an end soon.
“But we'll replace them,” he said. “We've had pretty tremendous growth the past couple of years. It'll be good to catch our breath.”