Each year, when staffers from Plastics News visit Processor of the Year finalists, they come back filled with stories and admiration about what those companies do.
Unfortunately, there can be only one POY winner. (With the exception of 2002, when two companies, Tech Group Inc. and Precise Technology Inc., tied for the prize.) Fortunately, PN's Excellence Awards honor those who excel in customer service, employee relations, technology and community service.
Here's a quick primer for winners in 2021:
• Comar LLC has been adding plants and employees during the past two years during a period of record growth, creating a "churn of the workforce ... like nothing I've ever experienced," CEO Mike Ruggieri said. To help new employees adapt to the company, it created "Comar University" to train new workers and help existing employees advance.
• PTI Engineered Plastics of Macomb, Mich., made and donated thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment early in the pandemic. The company also worked with a fourth-grader on the Little Inventors project, developing a prototype for "the Ocean Snake of Doom," a system that could collect marine trash.
• Proto Labs Inc., more commonly called Protolabs, is rewriting the idea of prototype tooling and production. "Turnaround speed is what our customers really love," said Greg Wesling, director of injection molding manufacturing operations. "They love the fact that they can have an idea, say on Wednesday ... and we can have parts in our hands by Friday or by Monday of next week."
• Teel Plastics LLC was known for its precision extrusion for the medical industry, but when COVID-19 arrived, it rapidly expanded production in both extrusion and injection molding to make testing swabs. It has now made more than 2 billion swabs.