GW Plastics Inc., a custom injection molder and contract manufacturer based in Bethel, Vt., has won the Plastics News Sustained Excellence Award, which honors past Processor of the Year winners that have been able to keep up their high performance level since winning the top award.
GW Plastics won the 2009 Processor of the Year Award. The family-owned company, which does molding and assemblies for the medical, automotive, consumer products and industrial markets, presented a strong case for winning the Sustained Excellence Award.
This is the second year Plastics News has offered the award for past Processor of the Year winners. Last year, Plastic Components Inc., a custom injection molder in Germantown, Wis., won the Sustained Excellence Award.
The Sustained Excellence Award asks participants to show continued financial excellence in the years since winning the award, describe one extraordinary new development during that time, and name one key person, still at the company, who has played a key role in the company's success.
GW Plastics scored well in all three criteria. GW President and CEO Brenan Riehl and his management team and employees have worked hard to keep the company at a high level.
Financially, GW's sales have grown each year, and they doubled from $71 million in 2009 to an estimated $141 million in 2015. The company has remained profitable.
GW Plastics sank $40 million in capital investment back into the company since 2009. And the company has added seven Fortune 500 customers during the same period. The growth has generated jobs. GW's workforce has doubled in size during the last six years, to more than 1,000 employees.
As for new developments, the company has consistently invested in new technology and talent to support GW's mission of innovation, quality and standardization. GW listed growth in medical contract manufacturing — providing fully assembled and packaged medical devices. GW has made major expansions in every facility, but especially at Tucson, Ariz., and Dongguan, China.
“This has allowed GW Plastics to become a natural extension of our customers' production capabilities by providing them with a reliable and proven partner to confidently develop and manufacture their finished medical devices across the globe,” Riehl said.
Another development since winning Processor of the Year is workforce development and training. In 2014, the company began the GW Plastics “School of Tech.” Local high school students are bused to the company's plants for a semester-long, for-credit course focused on manufacturing technology. The class runs on a full-scale manufacturing curriculum, as students design and manufacture their own product using GW's technology, and are taught by experts from the plastics processor.
And GW also funds a college scholarship program, the Carl Symonds Memorial Scholarship, partnering at Vermont Technical College. Students enrolled in Vermont Tech's mechanical engineering technology program are eligible for a GW-funded scholarship each semester, plus a paid summer internship at the company.
“Between the scholarship and paid internship, it's possible for a student to completely cover the tuition cost of their associate's degree,” Riehl said.
And who did GW Plastics list as the key person? Cindy Wood, who graduated from Southern Vermont College in 1977, then joined GW in an administrative role in the customer service department. She soon was promoted to customer service representative, and continued to move up through her 38-year career.
Today, Wood is the customer service and production control manager for GW's largest and most complex operations. She also oversees all orders and shipments — including to Fortune 500 customers.
GW Plastics has kept up the pace of excellence since its big award win seven years ago.