The Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors has changed the plastics landscape, according to Nicolet Plastics Inc. Business Development Manager Bob Gafvert.
"I think where [MAPP has] helped us is from a technology standpoint with some of the newer technologies that are out there," he said. "As we've been implementing things — like RJG at our facility, having the experts at the Benchmarking conferences and the relationships [we] have set up with some of those experts — it's made it easier for us."
Nicolet Plastics CEO John Ogorek said the company participates in the association's benchmarking reports.
MAPP has awarded Nicolet Plastics second place for its HR Best Practices award, which will be received in October at the 2017 Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference.
"I would say our entire team is honored and proud to be recognized by MAPP and also to be in pretty good company with Anderson Technologies and Harmony Systems," said Lisa Pichotta, human resources manager at Nicolet Plastics. (Anderson Technologies Inc. won first place, while Profile Xtrusions LLC and Harmony Systems and Service Inc. tied for third place.) "As far as our HR practices, it's taken our entire team from the planning, executing, following up and, of course, celebrating our successes to get to this point, so I think having MAPP recognize us pretty much solidifies that we're accomplishing our goal to be an employer of choice and that has taken our entire team to accomplish that. It's a really big deal to us."
In 2014, Nicolet Plastics hosted more than 60 MAPP members for a tour at its Mountain, Wis., facility.
"To be honest, it was just a great opportunity to showcase what we're doing to our industry and to our peers," Gafvert said. "For us, our business is unique in that we pursue low to moderate, highly complex plastics injection molded parts. But as we're continuing to grow, it's a good opportunity to have people come here and see what we're doing and get feedback and questions from them at the end — how do we look, how do we measure up, what were things that they thought were interesting or unique, or opportunities for improvement.
"I think that's part of the power of MAPP," he added. "I don't know of any other industry where you would invite potentially 60 of your competitors into your facility to see what you're doing. The level of transparency and the trust that you have with a membership to MAPP really opens doors for everyone."
Gafvert said the transparency spreads to MAPP's Benchmarking and Best Practices conference, which he described as an extension of the trade association in general and said it's a chance to engage young professionals by exposing them to the industry.
"You can have three injection molders in the same industrial park and not one of those would have a similar customer, and that's kind of the feel that you get with MAPP," Gafvert said. "Yeah, we're all in plastics, but you don't get that feeling that you're talking to your closet competitor when you're at a breakout section or at some of the after-hour pieces. It really feels more collaborative."
Gafvert highlighted an overall positive characteristic of MAPP: The organization has adapted and grown both with the industry and with technology. Above all, Ogorek said MAPP brings value to all companies involved.
"The biggest part that we've seen is that, what MAPP started 20 years ago, it really kind of built that foundation of support for plastics professionals, and I think that's continuing to build bridges and kind of transform the industry as we know it today and what it could be tomorrow," Gafvert said. "What's really good is the leadership at MAPP as well. It's engaging [and] it's helpful; they've put a lot behind supporting everyone."
Pichotta echoed that sentiment about MAPP's foundation and goals.
"MAPP is always pushing us to collaborate with one another and to work with our strengths," she said. "That's a core competency that we at Nicolet Plastics appreciate, and we appreciate the support and all the coordinating that MAPP does to bring people together to help them be successful."