A lot has happened since Innovative Injection Technologies Inc. won Plastics News' Processor of the Year Award back in 2007 — some of it not good, like the Great Recession and the steep decline in the company's key agriculture market beginning in 2015.
But through the ups and downs, the family-owned custom molder known as i2Tech in West Des Moines, Iowa, has grown while diversifying, adding injection presses and expanding its building.
Now i2Tech gets some more recognition by winning the Sustained Excellence Award. The award is open to past winners of the Processor of the Year Award. The Sustained Excellence Award recognizes three areas: We ask candidates to provide evidence of financial excellence in the years since, list one extraordinary new development and name one key person who has remained at the company since they won Processor of the Year.
"Since 2007, we have continued our journey pursuing excellence. We have always felt that it is a path to follow and not a destination," wrote Darin Endecott, i2Tech's chief operating officer who nominated his company for the award.
Josh Janeczko, the president and CEO, has owned the company since he bought the majority share from his father, Robert Janeczko, in 2014. Under Josh, the company has grown while navigating some challenging times.
The company's extraordinary development has been its ability to adapt to change. Back when the Iowa molder was named Processor of the Year, i2Tech focused on three markets: agriculture, recreational vehicles and industrial. Today, i2Tech serves nine segments, adding areas including construction, medical and automotive.
Agricultural business traditionally made up half of the company's business. When it fell off, new work with automotive and medical customers reduced the impact.
Sales increased from $30 million when i2Tech won Processor of the Year to $44 million in 2018. Sales fell during the recession and again after the ag decline, but they bounced back each time. Net income is solid.
And i2Tech has invested more than $11 million over the last five years to buy five new injection presses and connect several buildings and added manufacturing space. In 2007, the company ran 23 presses. Now i2Tech runs 33 molding machines, in clamping forces ranging from 55-3,300 tons. The average age of machines in the fleet is less than seven years.
Morgan Endecott is one key, long-term employee. Endecott, the chief financial officer, started working at the company, then Morton Custom Plastics, in 2002. She held a variety jobs such as accounting, financial analyzing and supply chain organization. She wears many hats, even sometimes pitching in to run a machine during busy times.
Endecott was there when Robert Janeczko bought the company in 2003. He said she rearranged the end of the financial quarters to make more sense, and she helped steer i2Tech through a streak of 53 consecutive profitable quarters, he said.
Endecott won the first CFO of the Year Award from Plastics News, in 2015.
Another key employee is Margaret "Maggie" McCuen, i2Tech's supply chain manager. She started in 2004, first as a buyer then took on more responsibility in procurement, material handling and now leads efforts for the entire supply chain.
Plante & Moran figures out complexity of manufacturing companies, by multiplying the number of molds by the number of resins then multiplying that result by the number of presses. According to i2Tech's application for the Sustained Excellence Award, it has more than 400 active resins, 202 different concentrates, 328 different fasteners and 319 packaging SKUs. And the downtime from not having any of the items that McCuen is responsible for is just 0.3 percent. She handles the complexity.
And i2Tech provided a third key employee: Brian Keller, who started at the company in 2002 as customer service representative. Before that, he had been a temporary worker and managed up to 99 temps at Morton Custom Plastics. He was hired full time despite knowing very little about manufacturing, let alone plastics. The company gave him a desk and put him in charge of shipping to Deere & Co., the largest customer.
Keller played a key role in helping move from manual orders to an electronic system, including EDI.
Today, Keller leads the Deere team at i2Tech — and he earned a degree in business administration for sales and marketing.
So, i2Tech submitted not one key employee, not two, but three. And they, together with all the company's employees, contributed to i2Tech winning the Sustained Excellence Award.