Appearing for the second time on Plastics News' Best Places to Work annual ranking is industrial machinery manufacturer CMD Corp. of Appleton, Wis.
CMD mainly provides machinery for converters that make trash bags and pouch packaging, and it supplies equipment for refueling systems for compressed natural gas, used as an alternative to diesel fuel for commercial vehicles.
The company has continued to expand its happy staff, gaining 14 workers since last year's ranking to reach 147 full-timers. The year before, the company added seven employees.
And it's added a new position already this year: Ricardo Abud joined the company in January as vice president of marketing and business development, to focus on international markets and product development.
President Stephen Sakai said the company is continuing to work on an initiative to consistently improve its corporate culture that's been underway for seven years now.
“We don't feel like we've achieved the end state we desire, and we're continuing to work on it,” he said in a recent telephone interview. “The main thing is, we have continuity in terms of our direction and our strategy to advance our culture. We're still working on reaching the vision we aspire to.”
The initiative addresses the fundamentals of “who we are and what we're about, and that's really started to build a higher level of employee involvement with the company and its values,” he said.
The effort focuses on training employees how to be more effective, improve their communication, work as teams and avoid blaming others, among other lessons. Training is important with a growing staff, and the growth has been made possible by the company's strength in existing markets, expansion into new applications and diversification.
“We're very fortunate in that 2016 is getting off to a very strong start — perhaps stronger than we might have anticipated, given the global economic weakness,” Sakai said.
The domestic market for trash bags was very strong last year, Sakai said.
The company already holds a large share of the domestic market for draw-tape trash bags — more than 90 percent — so it is always working to grow sales by providing product enhancements and adding features.
CMD also is pursuing growth internationally. The company has trash bag and pouch machines in 42 countries.
“In the pouch market, we continue to pursue specialized applications,” Sakai said. “Fortunately, the use of pouches continues to grow and expand.” Those specialized applications include packaging for sterilized medical equipment, medical waste, coins and currency, and food products.
In 2013, CMD diversified into the CNG market — quite a switch for the 36-year-old, privately held firm. It already has installations spanning the country. Though the over-the-road trucking segment has slowed, other markets such as municipal waste hauling and construction are making up the difference.
Also, Sakai said he has learned that “the service level appears to be fairly inconsistent across the country” in CNG, and he believes CMD can expand its presence in the market by providing field service and replacement parts.