This week we were in Florida for the Plastic News Executive Forum. While we were here I wanted to see my friend, Al, who is fighting cancer. We spent an afternoon with him and his wife in January. Unfortunately he was in the hospital and we couldn’t visit. I’m glad we spent the time in January. We’re not giving up on him. We can pray. We can send a card. We will call when he can talk. He needs our encouragement. Al, like all people, needs to be reminded he is important and others care about him.
The Plastics News Executive Forum is attended by the Executives, owners and high level staff of Plastics Processors, their suppliers and support organizations. The companies are primarily medium sized with 100- 400 employees. The processors are the companies who provide us essential products. They save countless lives with the medical equipment they make. We had lunch with a company who makes critical parts for equipment used in heart surgeries. Another company develops medical items used for vaccines and other medications during the pandemic.
Companies make thousands of products like household products from kitchen items to TVs and computers, packaging to protect food and shipping other products without damage. They also make automobile and appliance parts. Electric vehicles can’t exist without plastics which make up 70% or more of the vehicle making it lightweight maximizing distance per charge.
Shale Crescent USA attended to bring the industry information about the new Shale Crescent USA- Jobs Ohio Study that shows plastic products can be made in the Shale Crescent USA more economically than China. Labor is no longer the major cost it has been because of automation. The major costs today are energy, raw materials and ocean transportation. Reducing the now $59 billion of imported plastics products annually not only creates high wage jobs, it shortens supply chains reducing cost and emissions. It also can make us less dependent on places like China. The companies attending aren’t well known outside the industry but are essential to our country and U.S. consumers.
At the conference awards were given for Best Places to Work 2023. Employee surveys and feedback played a large part in this award. These companies don’t have problems finding and keeping employees. Some have a waiting list of workers ready to come to work for them. We heard details from each of the top companies. Every owner talked about how important their employees are to their success. These companies don’t just give lip service about the importance of their employees. They show it by their actions.
Very competitive pay and benefits like paid health care were common place. They also do unique things like paid lunches. Ice cream trucks just showing up. Picnics, parties, golf outings and other team building events. Employees and management work together on community service projects. These companies are small compared to large national companies, community is important to them. The company President and employees all live in the same place. Taking care of the environment is essential because everyone drinks the water and breathes the air. Their families live in the community with the plant.
Companies all found ways to give employees flexibility in work hours, time off, vacations and family emergencies. One company shutdown four an entire week in the summer and paid everyone. This was in addition to normal vacation time. Another gave everyone Friday afternoon off. Most still had people work from home when possible. A hybrid model with people in the office on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday was most popular. Employee training was part of all the Best Places to Work Companies.
One of the other criteria of the award is companies have to show consistent profitability. Employee benefits don’t matter if the company is out of business. It was very clear these complained didn’t look at money spent on employees for pay, benefits, training and other activities as costs, they were investments that created profits and growth as well as being the right thing to do.
The companies winning this award are also growth and profitability industry leaders. The CEOs, company Presidents and owners all attributed their success to their people. Treating everyone as important team members makes a difference. The CEO isn’t someone in a big office in a far away city. They are seen all the time. They are accessible.
One lady sat with us at dinner. Her company is international with locations in North America and Asia. She told us most of her job was spending time with her customers and her employees. She was leaving for Asia on Saturday to do just that.
There was also an award for Processor of the Year. This was a big deal with the award given at a black tie dinner on the closing night. We met the top companies who were finalists for the reward. It was apparent these companies as well as the Best Placers to Work Companies were led as opposed to managed by top management. These leaders allow their employees to make key decisions and then they support them even if they fail. One managing partner added, “If we aren’t failing we aren’t taking big enough risks.”
People are essential for the success of any business. People that are hardworking, dependable and creative make companies successful. Treating people like team members and taking care of their needs can create loyalty. People like to know the big picture. If they know the vision and goals of the organization they will help to achieve them. West Virginia and Ohio were well represented. One West Virginia company was adding 3 lines in 2023 requiring more people. Several Ohio companies we planning expansions in 2023. Helping existing companies to expand can create jobs much quicker than starting from scratch with a new company in the region. We need both. We can learn from successful organizations.
Greg Kozera, [email protected] is the Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. www.shalecrescentusa.com (You can follow SCUSA on Facebook) He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering and over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert, high school soccer coach, professional speaker, author of four books and numerous published articles.