MTD Micro Molding, our 2018 Processor of the Year, has amazing technology and a workforce filled with problem solvers.
The technology stands out. Micromolding is cool, and seeing tiny parts with intricate features dwarfed by a dime or a paper clip makes me think, "How in the world can you injection mold that?"
It seems impossible.
But that's actually the company's business plan, to make impossible-to-mold medical parts, often from exotic resins, for implant in the human body.
Bill Bregar and I visited MTD three times to evaluate the company for our award. After each visit, we left impressed with the brilliant, tight-knit team.
Workers at most finalists tell us their company is like a family. At MTD, that goes to another level. Workers express admiration for colleagues by name. There's huge respect for the experience and knowledge on staff, and a concerted effort to share it, including with young workers.
At the top of the organization was Dennis Tully, the president, who, in 2008, bought the company from his father, rebranded it and shifted the focus to medical micromolding.
Whenever we came for a Processor of the Year visit, Bill and I would ask Dennis to tell us the company's history. We knew the story, but we liked to hear him tell it. For business owners like Dennis, their company's story is a lot like the story of how they met their spouse. It's full of detail and, frankly, love.
When he talked about MTD, Dennis would always — always — give all the credit to his team. He brought the group together and made MTD a great place to work. He and his senior team nurtured a culture where employees could work together to achieve a common goal. But the team, as a whole, made all its success possible.
MTD's award is bittersweet because Dennis wasn't there to enjoy it. He died of a massive heart attack on Feb. 28, just two weeks after our visit and one week before we named the winner.
But MTD has twice been a finalist for the award in the past, so we have a pretty good idea what Dennis would have said from the podium this year.
First, he would have given all the credit to his amazing team, and say that he really cared for all of them. Second, he would congratulate the other finalists and say that they were all winners and that he had learned a lot from their examples.
Now the history of MTD starts a new chapter, without its talisman, but with a strong culture and set of core values to keep it on the right track.
"Be the best," as Dennis would say. "Ever forward."
Loepp is editor of Plastics News and author of the Plastics Blog. Follow him on Twitter @donloepp.