Elliott Rabin was just 14 when his father bought custom fabricator Ridout Plastics in 1967. He felt like he'd been handed the keys to his own shop class.
“I thought, ‘Oh man, my Dad bought a shop!' There were saws and drills and sanders — I was in heaven,” he said in a recent phone interview.
Rabin is now president and CEO of Ridout Plastics Co. Inc., dba ePlastics. He and business partner John Short, the general manager, run the San Diego company, which claimed the No. 7 spot on Plastics News' Best Places to Work ranking for 2016.
As a kid, Rabin loved building things, and that's one of the qualities he looks for when hiring new employees: “Honesty and trustworthiness — and that they like to make things.”
Rabin and Short also look for people they think will fit in with the company's culture. The atmosphere at ePlastics is casual, “but there's a sense of accountability and everyone respects each other,” Short said. “We hold the bar high.”
“We have to come to work every day, so we want to make it the best possible environment to work in,” he said. “We look for people who are genuine. Even our salesmen aren't ‘salesmen,' they're people who know how to talk to other people.”
Rabin added, “John and I try to create a place where we really want to come to work, so we hire exceptional people we want to work with.”
That mentality contributes to everyone's well-being, they said.
“We view employees as assets, not expenses — valuable assets that we pay for,” Short added. “Elliott and I walk the floor, talking to every single employee. I don't think there's anyone we don't interact with every single day, whether it's casual or business.”
Rabin agreed. “We have an open-door policy. We're on a first-name basis and anyone can talk to [us] about anything, any time.”
Part of the company's success comes from ensuring all employees understand their importance in achieving that success. “It's a small organization, and everybody's job matters. There's not one job that's less significant than someone else's,” Short said.
Rabin and Short like to show off the company's “hall of fame” — a hallway where a plaque for each employee who's been there at least a year is displayed, showing each one's hire date and years of service. “It's something we're really proud of,” Short said. “When we walk vendors and customers through, we make sure they see it. We're proud of our employees.”
Many staff members have been with the company more than 10 years.
Some of the benefits the company provides include profit sharing and sales bonuses based on gross profit. The firm's can and bottle recycling program generates enough money for barbecues, ball games and other summertime events, and a Christmas party.
Rabin has been president and CEO since 1990. But his tenure with ePlastics began long before then. He started out at the mail desk, packaging and weighing small items. He worked in the warehouse. In the summer he filled in for people who were absent or on vacation.
“I've worked every job there is here — some well, some not so well,” he said, laughing.