Ryan Schroeder hit the ground running as president and CEO of plastic sheet leader Plaskolite LLC.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, clear sheet made by Plaskolite was in high demand for face shields and protective barriers. Columbus, Ohio-based Plaskolite makes sheet from acrylic and other resins at multiple sites. Schroeder's first day on the job was May 4.
"When I came in, sheet orders were at historic levels," Schroeder said in a recent phone interview with Plastics News. "It was a strange way to start, but it was a pleasure getting to know the company. There's a real welcoming spirit and a great culture here."
After being named an essential business, Plaskolite was required to make sure work environments were safe at its production sites. The firm also had to "ramp up" its supply chain and move production schedules from five days a week to seven and make other changes to its work shifts, Schroeder said.
Earlier this year, all 10 of Plaskolite's plants were making thin plastic sheet used in medical face shields. Production of glycol-modified PET sheet at those plants was enough to make 3 million shields per week. A couple of the firm's plants still are making that type of sheet.
Plaskolite also has been making increased amounts of polycarbonate and acrylic sheet used as protective barriers at retail checkouts, banks and other environments. On the safety front, the firm has kept any employees not essential to production working remotely to limit exposure to production workers. Plaskolite's plants also are being disinfected regularly.
Recently, sheet demand has slowed down a bit but still remains relatively high, Schroeder said. Plaskolite still has a backlog of orders for some products, he added.
The firm also has seen growth in sheet used in lighting and bath and spa applications, as people invest more in their homes. On the downside, Plaskolite lost some business when some customers were labeled nonessential and temporarily closed during the pandemic.
Increased demand led Plaskolite to add a new sheet line in Columbus earlier this year. The firm plans to add an additional line in Olive Branch, Miss., by the end of the year.
Schroeder joined Plaskolite from IMI Precision Engineering, an industrial firm based in Littleton, Colo. While at IMI, Schroeder spent four years as president of the Americas leading approximately 2,200 employees across 17 facilities. Prior to IMI, Schroeder spent 12 years with industrial firm Parker Hannifin in a variety of roles, including global valves general managers.