Nicolet Plastics Inc. has developed a unique employee training program, called the “Skills Matrix” that rewards employees for learning new skills, and includes sets of prerequisites needed to take other courses. The result is a highly cross-trained, 70-person workforce that makes many of the production decisions.
Customers benefit from this special approach, a big reason Nicolet Plastics has won the Plastics News Excellence Award for customer relations. Nicolet was a finalist for the Processor of the Year Award for the second year in a row.
At the custom molder in tiny Mountain, Wis. — some 200 miles north of Milwaukee in a national forest — employees are flexible, able to do many jobs. They also get a good understanding of how the total business runs. That makes Nicolet's strategy — Quick Response Manufacturing — happen every day.
The company has cut lead times from 21 days down to 7 days. As a small molder, Nicolet can rapidly adjust to new technology and changes in the plastics industry. No big bureaucracy to bog things down. That's important for the company that does more than 5,200 mold changes a year.
Customers can remotely log in to Nicolet to track the progress of their parts, using a new project management tool called Smart Sheet.