International Plastics Inc. is a second-generation family business, with a potential member of the third generation working there, too.
The company's founders, J.R. and Frances McClure, turned the business over to their three children some 20 years ago. Today, Steve is president, Mark is vice president of operations and Carolyn Robinson is chief financial officer.
The Better Business Bureau of South Carolina recently recognized International Plastics with its Business of Integrity Award, something that symbolizes the company's guiding principles.
The Greenville, S.C., bag supplier comes in at No. 5 on Plastics News' list of Best Places to Work.
What does the company look for in an employee?
“We hire based on character,” Mark McClure said by phone.
Most of the company's 40-plus employees participate in community service and charitable endeavors, and International itself contributes to about 100 different such groups.
“We donate more cash [than] we can write off and love to give as much as we can,” the company wrote on its submission form.
International holds quarterly blood drives and employees have donated more than 300 units of blood in the past four years.
The company also sets an example with its green efforts. It's now testing a biodegradable additive from Enso Plastics that will allow it to offer customers more environmentally friendly alternatives. It retrofitted its 64,000-square-foot warehouse with motion-detecting fluorescent lights to save energy and promotes recycling of all plastic, paper and cans throughout its offices and warehouses.
International Plastics offers yearly bonuses based on profitability. It formally recognizes employees for tenure and sales achievements. The firm promotes collaborative communication rather than a “top-down” style, McClure said.
The staff knows how to have fun. There are company outings, barbecues, a fish fry, Christmas party and monthly birthday celebrations.
“We treat our employees well and fairly,” McClure said. “You can't have a loyal customer base without a loyal employee base.”
It's what McClure calls “the secret sauce of International Plastics.
“Our mission is simple, but it's the philosophy and core values” that motivate employees when it comes to customer service. “This in turn helps us retain great employees, which ultimately impacts loyalty within our customers.”
Finding and keeping customers hasn't been a problem. McClure said the company discovered something interesting during the Great Recession. It stopped manufacturing, and never looked back. International now focuses on supply.
“We sell more than we could ever make,” he said. “We've been growing at a pretty good clip of 8 to 10 percent, even during the recession.”
The company now devotes more time to sales and marketing, which is paying off because of the investment it's made in its website for search engine optimization and analytics.
“We get so many requests for quotes online — probably 550-600 each month,” he said.
The company also recently invested in enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management systems.
“It was challenging, but we learned a lot,” McClure said. “It's allowed us to be more efficient. We will have so much more flexibility.”
The annual profitability bonuses are determined by several factors including an employee's tenure, job function and contribution to company's success. The amounts can range from 3 percent to 20 percent of an employee's salary. There is also a 401(k) match and profit sharing.
The company pays 80 percent to 85 percent of health insurance costs for employees and 40 percent to 50 percent for their dependents. After 10 years, employees are entitled to five weeks of paid time off.
Something else employees seem to like is empowerment. They are “deputized” to make decisions within their job duties without having to ask a manager.