As Albion, Mich.-based Team 1 Plastics Inc. celebrates its 30th anniversary, it also recalls a 10-year period where the Manufacturers Association of Plastics Processors was not around for the injection molding company.
"As I look at the information we have learned and gained," President Craig Carrel said, "it would've helped us [to have MAPP] in those early years as we made a lot of mistakes. … Earlier on, it definitely could have helped us and move us forward, especially when you look at the breadth of companies in MAPP; there are companies now like us who have been around 30 years. And there are companies that are new or newer.
"You have that breadth of experience," he continued. "And then you have companies that are decades old — maybe second-generation companies. You can learn a lot from those connections and experiences."
Through MAPP, Carrel said Team 1 has benefited from the support of organization members and helped other member companies. One example he mentioned was the implementation of hiring and management software that gauges a person's talents and strengths, sort of like a personality profile.
"I know we've found — working with and listening and discussing this with other MAPP members — this system that we are very happy with now," Carrel said. "We weren't doing it prior, and it came out of MAPP and those kinds of conversations that I think are going to make us a stronger team because you're making better fits instead of just guessing that this person is just going to do a good job."
On MAPP's website is a discussion forum where company leaders can post questions about anything — from HR and safety to production — and where others can offer advice or assistance. Carrel said he utilizes the forum, but he typically answers more questions than asks them.
"I was thinking of that, and recently we had a problem with one of our resins," he recalled. "That's pretty popular. I reached out to that forum to ask about a specific grade of material. I got three or four pretty instantaneous responses that were able to give me some direction.
"Eventually, the problem solved itself, but people did come and offer help and offer suggestions of things how we could solve the problem," he added.
Carrel said people will sometimes just call or email to directly help — a testament to how many other MAPP members are peers than direct competitors.
"I've had people follow up, and then you can have a half-hour discussion and share more information," he said. "That can be the kick-starter to getting even more in-depth and really dig into the problem they're having."
Another valuable MAPP benefit, Carrel said, is the Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference. (The 2017 conference will be held Oct. 11-13 in Indianapolis.)
"For the amount of money and time, I think it's definitely one of the premier conferences for you to talk to pretty much peers," he said. "I really always felt that they've found a good niche. Companies like myself, Team 1, can go there and you're meeting peers and you're sharing noncompetitive information."
During the Great Recession in 2008-09, Carrel said, companies would come together at the conference to discuss how they have kept business afloat and exchange ideas with one another.
"I get so much out of just the networking and the conversations and relationships that I've developed that easily pay back whether it's a Benchmarking conference or our dues every year," Carrel said about MAPP's impact on Team 1. "I think that's probably the main reason we're in this. And then you develop these relationships and call somebody up and ask questions and send an email and have a conversation. It's not just one way; I try to do the same. [It's] the famous, 'You get what you put into it.'"