Lindsey Hahn has noticed a lot of changes during his many years in business.
The president of Metro Plastics Technologies Inc. observes, “Forty years ago, workers had to accommodate the job. Now, the job has to accommodate the people.”
Metro apparently has managed to do that, as it ranks No. 4 on the Plastics News Best Places to Work list for 2016.
The custom injection molder and toolmaker based in Noblesville, Ind., is family-owned and strives to create a family culture among its 100 employees.
“We have a lot of people who've been with us a long time. We also have a lot of entry-level people. We understand as an employer that people have issues, young or old, baby boomer or millennial. We try our best to accommodate these issues, to be flexible and work around an individual's needs,” Hahn said recently by phone.
What stands out most among Metro's long list of benefits is its “30/40” program. Employees work 30 hours but get paid for 40. Part-timers work 24 hours and get paid for 32. Hahn said that as long as they arrive on time for each scheduled work day during the week, “We actually pay them to not be there” for the other hours.
He added, “We encourage them to use that extra time for their personal benefit — to go to school, play piano, babysit their grandchildren. We encourage them to improve their situation, improve their job skills, get a better job with us or somebody else. We just want them to move up, and if that means they move out, that's OK, too.”
The company hires people who best fit the job — all kinds of people.
“You don't have to have a college degree to contribute to our company. You just need a good work ethic. We're in a farming community and, come to find out, people from that environment are very good employees.”
The company has added 30 employees just in the past three years. Its next challenge, Hahn said, is finding a larger facility. The company was founded in 1975 and has been in its current location since 1981. The Noblesville site started out at 14,500 square feet and has grown through additions here and there to 55,000 square feet, “so it's not the most efficient” building.
If Metro can secure enough acreage, Hahn hopes to start over at the same location and build a 70,000-square-foot facility to house its two dozen presses, which range in clamping force from 40 to 720 tons. Its oldest press is less than 10 years old. Metro is designing the building now and tentatively hopes to break ground in 2017, even if it has to relocate.
Hahn credits his firm's growth to increasing business from existing customers. But Metro is careful to keep a diverse customer base; no one company makes up more than 15 percent of its business. That mix provides a sense of security when end markets fluctuate. Its largest customer used to be RCA Corp., which was taken over by General Electric and split up in 1986.
Another of the company's standout benefits is its wellness program. A visiting nurse and dietician meet with employees each month for “personalized wellness coaching.” Metro provides a free gym membership and even brings in a local dentist who discusses dental health and offers free exams to everyone.
Metro offers numerous other benefits, including profit sharing and a retirement plan with matching contributions.
The company also works to benefit the community by outsourcing light assembly work to several local groups that employ the disabled, including Easter Seals Crossroads in Indianapolis and Janus Developmental Services Inc. in Noblesville.
Hahn is semi-retired, mostly serving as a Metro consultant from Florida. He and his wife, Lynne, are turning the business over to the next generation. Their son, Kenneth, is general manager; their daughter, Carole Krol, handles risk management; and their son-in-law, Tom Krol, works in sales.
“They've worked for us for 20 years now,” which makes for a smooth transition, he said.
“I think what I'm most pleased with is, our kids have been able to carry on our attitude that we've had with our employees. A quality relationship with employees is just as important as having a quality relationship with customers.”