Baraboo, Wis. — In 2022, Teel Plastics LLC proved that its success during the pandemic wasn't a mirage.
Coming into the year, the Baraboo-based company had nearly doubled in size in just a few years. It had invested in injection molding and extrusion capacity to make a wide variety of products — most notably nasal swabs used to test for COVID-19.
That project had put a spotlight on Teel, which was one of the few companies in the world with the expertise to make swabs in the massive numbers needed at the onset of the pandemic.
But with COVID-related demand easing in 2022, Teel had to prove that it could continue to grow, to retain the skilled staff it had added and trained during the pandemic, and to find new markets that capitalized on its expertise.
Consider that mission accomplished: Teel is now Plastics News' 2022 Processor of the Year.
"I would categorize 2022 as a growth and investment year. It's new equipment and new markets, and it's investing in our people and continuing to invest in the community," CEO Jerry Pritchett said.
In 2022, Teel managed to add and retain staff in a tight labor market in part thanks to boosting wages by 10-15 percent, plus adding a new bonus program based on company performance, plant utilization and each employee's individual goals.
"We need to be viewed as the employer of choice in this region," Pritchett said. He added that even as employment and wages went up, so did profitability.
"The good news is we're doing it with very good financial discipline. And I think that gives us a degree of resiliency," he said.
Teel also made significant improvements in key quality metrics in 2022.