Petoskey Plastics Inc., the newest Plastics News Processor of the Year, is a major force in blown film and converting. Its sales have more than doubled since 2009 to $140 million in 2017, in part due to the company's expertise extruding recycled-content film.
The takeaway message: Stick to a challenging technological problem, remain laser-focused and keep close, direct contact with customers. Another key strength: Foster strong employee relations.
Petoskey Plastics won Processor of the Year, but three other strong finalists put up a good fight: MTD Micro Molding, Plastek Industries Inc. and Trilogy Plastics Inc. The finalists represent the broad diversity of plastics, which is perhaps the industry's biggest strength.
MTD Micro Molding, as its name makes clear, is a micromolder of medical parts in Charlton, Mass. Plastek, based in Erie, Pa., is a custom injection molder and mold maker that is a powerhouse in packaging. Trilogy Plastics is a rotational molder in Alliance, Ohio.
The finalists each won one of the Plastics News Excellence Awards: Plastek for customer relations, MTD for employee relations and Trilogy for industry and public service.
Choosing a winner was difficult. Petoskey, MTD, Plastek and Trilogy — just like all the finalists throughout the history of this award — are strong in employee relations. Leaders of each company have worked hard to develop unique methods of attracting and retaining good workers and fostering the idea of a career path in plastics. The worker shortage is the biggest challenge facing all of manufacturing, and the finalists are good role models.
In fact, excellent employee relations helped Petoskey Plastics stand out. We feel confident saying Petoskey's "Hello & Welcome" booklet is the best recruiting aid in the plastics industry, as well as a useful guide for existing employees and community officials.
The company likes to promote from within and, in 2016, made more than 100 internal promotions.
The company is owned by the Keiswetter family. Family ownership — common to many Processor of the Year candidates over the years — makes Petoskey Plastics a good place to work and a sincere partner to customers — many of them involved in closed-loop recycling with the company.
Setting up these closed-loop programs and following through is difficult, undoubtedly. But Petoskey has developed an industry-leading process, centered at its big recycling plant in Hartford City, Ind.
Petoskey Plastics fosters what the company calls an "in-touch" relationship with customers, meeting in person as often as possible. This year in Hartford City, visiting customers will get an eyeful: Petoskey is installing an $8 million wash line.
Congratulations to all the finalists and winners. We hope our coverage of these fine companies gives readers points to consider and some good ideas you can implement in your plants. That's one of the goals of our Processor of the Year Award.