Resin distributor M. Holland Co. has added 30 commercial, logistics and market-focused employees since 2016 and plans to add more by the end of 2017 as well.
The Northbrook, Ill.-based firm also has launched a rebranding effort to show how it has grown from a regional distributor to an international one.
The new hires are part of M. Holland's newly formed business development group, which includes market managers, applications development engineers and account managers. The new group will help the firm focus on its target markets of automotive, health care, flexible packaging, color/compounding and rotational molding.
"This isn't so much about adding new sales reps as it is about true business development," CEO and President Ed Holland said in a Sept. 18 phone interview. "It's different from taking sales orders. It's about working with OEMs to develop applications."
The new positions were filled via internal moves and external hires. M. Holland's business development group is led by John Zessin, founder of Polymer Z LLC, an automotive-focused distributor that M. Holland acquired in late 2015. The firm also hired Greg Watkins in 2016 to oversee talent acquisition and pipeline management.
In a Sept. 19 news release, Ed Holland said that the plastics industry "is experiencing a renaissance thanks in part to low-cost energy, and recruiting employees with relevant skills and experience to accommodate this growth is an industry-wide challenge. We're stepping up recruiting efforts, investing in training, and promoting our existing staff to fulfill the expectations of our suppliers and customers," he added.
"You can wait for the younger generation to just show up, or you can be proactive about it," Ed Holland said Sept. 18, adding that the firm has attended several recent job fairs.
Ed Holland also compared his firm's business development group to a couple of sports situations. "The group can pitch the first eight innings, then the sales people can come in and pitch the ninth," he said. "And it's like a football team, where all 11 players have to know the play."
M. Holland's rebranding effort includes a new company logo and a new approach to digital and strategic programs. That includes MHX — short for M. Holland experience — which is an online platform that gives customers access to business and ordering information, including order history, price approximation and weight data.
"While our reputation for building great relationships stays the same, our new look leads our digital and strategic initiatives," officials said in a news release. "But these digital initiatives are not a replacement for personal relationships."
M. Holland also recently introduced M. Holland University, an employee program that offers 130 courses — including 35 in Spanish — covering a range of subjects, including leadership essentials, information technology, recruiting, and accounting.
M. Holland, founded in 1950 by Ed's father Marvin Holland, today sells more than 1.4 billion pounds of resin per year, offering more than 8,000 stock keeping units (SKUs) to more than 4,000 customers and making more than 40,000 shipments.
The firm has made five acquisitions in recent years and represents more than 20 material suppliers. In May, M. Holland opened an 80,000-square-foot warehouse in Mexico City.