2014 Plastics News Executive Forum Recap

By Danielle Marquis

I recently attended my first Plastics News Executive Forum with our Vice President of National Accounts, Bob Meier. The event was held February 23rd-26th at the Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, FL. Considering the Northeast was in the midst of a “polar vortex,” Bob and I were happy to make the trip and meet some new friends!

This year’s theme was “Innovative Business Strategies – Tools for Success,” and the Forum is considered the plastics industry’s premier C-level event. From the welcome reception onward, Bob and I were able to make some great contacts. This is a really friendly group! The welcome reception also featured a baby alligator, so that was a fun ice breaker.

We know from our work with other clients in the industry (who recommended we attend this event) that plastics manufacturers can significantly reduce overhead and increase production efficiency by becoming more energy efficient. Rob Comeau presented about “Realizing Greater Sustainable Net Profit” during the forum, and if you could see Bob and I during that session, our heads were nodding furiously. Energy efficiency is a great way to get greater throughput value at a lesser expense to drive future revenue.

I also found Melanie Hart’s session to be really informative. She’s pretty inspiring—Melanie is the first and youngest female president of a Japanese-owned manufacturing company in North America—and she had a lot of great insights. Her assertions that we needed to “hire more heads than hands” and continue to innovate to remain competitive and make re-shoring a reality just made a lot of sense.

Finally, it was great to learn more about the winners of the industry’s “Best Places to Work” and “Processor of the Year.” The winners of both were family-run businesses, led by relatively young owners. In light of the keynote presentation on “What You Need to Know About the Emerging Workforce,” I found this interesting. Generation X and Y may get a bad rap for entitlement, but these families clearly taught worth ethic.

The winners of the “Best Places to Work” didn’t have the slickest HR program or give away the biggest prizes for safety and dedication, but they did work really hard to create a workplace people enjoyed being at and the success and safety accolades followed. On the way back to my room after the “Processor of the Year” awards, I ran into the Hanaway kids, running and carrying the little ones to the reception location to celebrate the win with their family. They stopped running when they saw me and politely asked if I could point them in the direction of the event. Seems like those family values are being passed on and Tech Molded Plastics will be a leader for years to come. Pretty inspiring stuff.