Materials firm Plastics Plus isn't slowing down in its 25th year of operation.
In April, the Auburn Hills, Mich.-based firm added nylon resins and compounds from Radici Group to its distribution lineup. That move came less than a year after Plastics Plus added compounds from Citadel Plastics, which is now owned by A. Schulman Inc.
Roger Ziemba launched the firm in 1990, shortly after ending a 10-year career with General Electric Co. After GE, he said in a recent interview, Ziemba started his own technical communications business, which introduced him to the plastics market.
One of his clients at the time was Advanced Global Polymers, a now defunct resin maker in Marysville, Mich. Many injection molders who worked with that firm told Ziemba that it “sure would be nice if someone did color for us.”
That opportunity — doing color tolling mostly of polypropylene and ABS resins, mainly for automotive molders in the region — sustained Plastics Plus for most of its first two decades.
“We made a lot of mistakes our first two years, but by the late ‘90s, we were one of the fastest growing companies in Michigan,” Ziemba recalled.
But market changes were making it easier for molders to do that kind of coloring work for themselves or to use color concentrates. As a result, Ziemba changed the firm's focus to resin distribution.
“We had a number of small and medium-sized injection molders asking if we could supply material for them,” he said. “Our market was shrinking, and the opportunity [to do resin distribution] was too large and tempting to pass up.”
So in 2010, Plastics Plus became a stocking distributor of resins from Sabic Innovative Plastics [the former GE Plastics business], Phillips Sumika and Sumitomo. The firm's overall roster of resin suppliers now includes 20 firms. About 60 percent of the firm's distribution sales are to automotive molders.
Plastics Plus started in a 2,000-square-foot location in Auburn Hills, with a small extrusion line and Ziemba as a one-man operation. The firm now employs 30 and occupies a 46,000-square-foot space. It's been located in Auburn Hills, a Detroit suburb, for most of its 25-year run, with the exception of a four-year stretch when it operated from nearby Madison Heights.
Plastics Plus still does some color tolling work in Auburn Hills and at a small site in El Paso, Texas, but generates 70-75 percent of its sales from resin distribution. In 2010, it brought in distribution veteran David Bening to grow that side of the operation. Bening has more than 30 years of market experience and now serves as the firm's executive vice president.
Bening said that Plastics Plus “is poised for a very nice growth trajectory.”
“We're solid financially, we have a committed owner and leadership team and most importantly we have great people who are passionate about making a difference for our customers and suppliers, he added. “The view from the launching pad to our next 25 years is pretty exciting.”
Outside of Ziemba, Wayne Kvintus is the longest-tenured full-time employee at Plastics Plus. He joined the firm in 1993 and now serves as vice president and general manager.
In addition to Auburn Hills, Plastics Plus leases warehouses in Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida. Ziemba said he hopes to add at least two more materials firms to the distribution lineup by the end of the year.
Plastics Plus achieved sales growth of 15 percent in 2014 and expects that same rate of growth in 2015 as well, he added. The firm now services 200-250 customers.
“One of the big reasons we chose to get into resin distribution was that the big distributors were starting to act like big-box stores,” Ziemba said. “They weren't supplying the same level of services that they used to. That's something we can do.”