Schaumburg, Ill. — Top management at Vital Plastics Inc. has used a data-driven approach to improve results at the custom injection molder.
"When I first got here, it looked like an 18-year-old startup company," Vital President George Hauser said May 21 at the 2019 Plastics News Financial Summit in Schaumburg. "There was a lack of discipline and not much depth of management."
Hauser's original objective at Baldwin, Wis.-based Vital was to prepare the company for a sale and rebuild its balance sheet after two buyouts. He ended up staying on and became the firm's president in 2017. Along the way, he changed Vital's banking, accounting and insurance strategies.
Matt Fish came on as Vital's chief financial officer in 2017, shortly before Hauser became president. Fish had worked in finance for a variety of manufacturing firms before going into academia and then returning to manufacturing with Vital.
Fish said May 21 that he had to convince Vital to move "from the barnyard to the data barn."
"There was overconfidence in intuition and a lack of top management support in data," he explained. "But you have to find time to analyze data. You can't afford not to."
At Vital, Fish centralized as many functions as possible, including insourcing the firm's payroll operations. Managers now receive a production report every day at 5 a.m.
Data efforts at Vital include customized metrics such as daily part reject reporting, machine capacity utilization analysis and comparisons of scrap vs. cycle time.
Vital has a unique business plan that includes many home-based employees who do complex assembly. The stay-at-home workers come to the Baldwin plant once a week and pick up boxes of parts to assemble, instructions and sometimes fixtures to help do the piecemeal work.
Earlier this year, Vital was a finalist for the Plastics News Processor of the Year Award, and it won the PN Excellence Award for employee relations.
Vital employs more than 300 overall and operates 57 injection molding presses. The firm posted sales of about $18 million in 2018.