Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

Plastics Reaches Out on Manufacturing Day 2015

The skills gap is a challenge facing manufacturing, and this year the plastics industry opened its doors and made its innovative voice heard to inspire the next generation of manufacturing all-stars to remember that creating things is always cool.

Toshiba Machine

Toshiba Machine

This year was the most plastics-centric Manufacturing Day ever. 35 plastics facilities hosted tours and educational events across SPI’s four regions. More than 600 people passed through the facilities of the Rodon Group, AMA Plastics, Parkinson Technologies, Inc., Toshiba Machine, Yushin America, Wittmann-Battenfeld and MR Mold.  Attendees ranged from young professionals and job seekers to school-age children who got an early chance to see what a career in manufacturing looks like in today’s world.

The Rodon Group

The Rodon Group

For more photos, visit SPI’s Facebook Page here.

Friday, September 4th, 2015

So Much Water, So Close to Home: With In-Person Meetings, How Far You Travel is Less Important than the Simple Fact that You Traveled at All

At any given time, business travel is a relatively reliable indicator of economic health. Sure, it’s an oversimplification, and more of a reflection of economic solidity and optimism than a cause of either, but the truth is that businesses send their employees to travel when times are good, and they cut back when times aren’t. For instance, according to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), business travel spending declined sharply during the recession in 2008 and 2009, and improved with the overall economic outlook, reflecting the fact that companies spend more to make face-to-face meetings happen in times of plenty than they do in times of famine.


Attendees at the 2014 SPI South Regional Networking Reception.

That’s a shame though, because it’s through face-to-face meetings that good business gets done. A 2013 report by the U.S. Travel Association found that, when asked about the effects of business travel budget cutbacks, only four percent of respondents whose companies reduced business travel spending since 2007 stated that those cutback aided company performance, while 57 percent said that those reductions in business travel hurt their company’s performance. The same report found that business travelers believe 42 percent of their customers would eventually be lost without in-person meetings, and that prospects are nearly twice as likely to become customers with an in-person meeting than without one.

The point is that how far you travel matters less than the fact that you traveled, and that’s as true for visits to existing customers as it is to visits of prospects and even fellow industry colleagues. The face-to-face meeting is still the best way to connect with other professionals in business, whether the aim is developing a new lead, a new resource, a new supplier or simply a new contact with whom to trade ideas and strategies. Events that bring together industry professionals in such a way are like members-only events that everyone’s invited to; everyone who attends has something in common with everyone else in the room, because all of them understand that it’s only through in-person meetings that you can start to build the trust necessary for a lasting, mutually-beneficial  business relationship.

Attendees at an SPI Regional Event.

Attendees at an SPI Regional Event.

The fact that there’s no directly proportional relationship between miles flown and quality of visit means that whenever companies and plastics professionals have a chance to take advantage of an event in their neck of the woods, they should do so whenever the opportunity presents itself. That’s why SPI started hosting smaller meetings for members and plastics companies operating in each of its four regions (West, Midwest, South and Northeast). These programs are designed to make it easier for SPI members to benefit from the kind of quality that only face-to-face meetings can provide, without having to exhaust their travel budgets. And while the guest list at these events might be smaller, the programming that goes along with each of them still delivers a great deal of value, even beyond networking opportunities. Most regional lunches and dinners are hosted at the facilities of SPI member companies and many of them include plant tours, giving attendees the chance to learn more about their industry and the best practices employed by some of the biggest, most innovative names in plastics. Additionally, many regional meetings include a timely industry update from SPI President and CEO Bill Carteaux, as well as the chance to have a direct dialogue with Carteaux and other industry and SPI leaders. They give attendees the chance not just to develop new business relationships and their own professional network, but also to increase their involvement with their trade association: SPI listens intently to its members and it’s often through conversations at these regional programs where the organization acquires the vital insight it requires to drive its grassroots outreach and advocacy programs. As much as these programs offer attendees a chance to change their professional lives, they also offer them the chance to change the face of their industry by making their voice heard and empowering SPI’s efforts to support and promote the U.S. plastics industry.

The point is, even when the recession gave cash-strapped companies a reason to cut back on business travel, this strategy is pennywise and pound-foolish. This is even more the case now that the recession has ended and the U.S. plastics industry is thriving, not to mention the fact that SPI’s regional events make it possible for professionals to get big benefits right in their backyards. To learn more about SPI’s Fall slate of regional programming, click here.

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Manufacturing a Promising Future for Our Children

By Paula Hynes, Communications Coordinator, The Rodon Group

Every week, there is a news story about the lack of skilled workers to fill employment opportunities in the manufacturing sector.  How did we get to this point?    Many that could fill these spots went off to college and spent four years and thousands of dollars to gain the credentials needed to land a well-paying job.  Unfortunately, the outcome often didn’t meet the expectation.MFD logo

According to a recent study by Career Builder, nearly one-third of college graduates are not employed in their field of study.  And, 47% said their first job after graduation was not related to their major.  Many graduates find out too late that either their specialty is not in demand, or they need an advanced degree to get a job.  This trend leaves many job seekers with degrees that go underutilized.

Professional, skilled trade opportunities

However, there is still a great deal of employment opportunity. A recent USA Today analysis of data from Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. and CareerBuilder estimates that by 2017, nearly 2.5 new skilled jobs will be added to the economy.  These jobs are described as “middle-skilled” opportunities.  They require technical training, but not a four-year degree.  These are well-paid jobs that offer long-term stability.

This resurgence in our manufacturing sector employment along with the rising cost of a college education has gotten the attention of public school administrators, trade groups, and government agencies.  The need for workers with professional trade skills has begun to shift the career paradigm.  Students as well as parents are the focus of outreach programs that help engage and inform the public about manufacturing opportunities.

Focusing on tomorrow’s manufacturing workers 

In 2012, a group of industry associations in collaboration with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership worked to develop a game plan for getting the word out about manufacturing careers.  The Fabricator & Manufacturers Association International®, National Association of Manufacturers and The Manufacturing Institute, felt one of the best ways to get kids excited about manufacturing was to show them manufacturing in action.  So, they put together a plan and a website to enlist manufacturers to open the doors of their facilities for tours, seminars, and other educational activities.  They called the event Manufacturing.  The stated goals of the event are: promoting manufacturers and skilled employment, expanding industry knowledge, and connecting with families, educators, associations & media for the betterment of manufacturing.

The Rodon Group was one of the first companies to sign-up.  One of our corporate mandates is to support and promote American manufacturing.  As a member of American Made Matters, a consortium of U.S. manufacturing companies, we wanted to be on the forefront of this movement.  And, we hoped a nationwide day promoting manufacturing would generate excitement.  Let’s face it, manufacturing has gotten a great deal of bad press in the past.  Many still think of old grimy sweatshops as the norm.  By opening our doors to students, teachers, faculty and the community we had the opportunity to challenge these perceptions first hand.  Most manufacturing companies today are bright, clean working environments that rely on automation and technology to run most of the operations.  The jobs in these companies are far from the manual labor of the past.  They require skilled professionals to operate the factory infrastructure.

Manufacturing Day is making a difference.

StudentsIn 2012, when Manufacturing Day began, there were a little over 200 companies participating throughout the country.  In 2013, that number grew to 830.  And by 2014, there were nearly 1,700 participating companies.  This exponential growth was a result of lots of attention and interest in American manufacturing and the skills gap that exists in our workforce.  By engaging  local communities, companies can show students and parents the opportunities available in the high-tech manufacturing factory of today.  In fact, Rodon has hired a few of these students..   And we often have technical school students working as paid interns during their summer hiatus from the classroom.  These students had either attended a Manufacturing Day event or participated in one of the school tours we give throughout the year.

We have also created a lot of media exposure for the company through promoting these events.  Last year, we hosted several high-ranking administrators from the Commerce Department as well as local legislators.  In 2012, several weeks after our Manufacturing Day event, we hosted President Obama, who was promoting fiscal policies.  Certainly, the added exposure we have received over the years has helped increase our brand recognition as a leading U.S. plastic injection molder.

Making things is cool

It’s clear that making things in the U.S. is cool again.  Consumers, legislators and businesses all realize the important role manufacturing plays in our economy.

Here are some interesting highlights from the National Association of Manufacturers “Facts About Manufacturing”:

  • The most recent statistics reveal manufacturers contributed $2.09 trillion to the economy, up from $2.03 trillion in 2012. This was 12.0 percent of GDP.1  For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $1.37 is added to the economy, the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector.2
  • Manufacturing supports an estimated 17.6 million jobs in the United States—about one in six private-sector jobs. More than 12 million Americans (or 9 percent of the workforce) are employed directly in manufacturing.3
  • In 2013, the average manufacturing worker in the United States earned $77,506 annually, including pay and benefits. The average worker in all industries earned $62,546.4
  • Manufacturers in the United States are the most productive in the world, far surpassing the worker productivity of any other major manufacturing economy, leading to higher wages and living standards.5
  • Manufacturers in the United States perform more than three-quarters of all private-sector R&D in the nation, driving more innovation than any other sector.6
  • Taken alone, manufacturing in the United States would be the 9th largest economy in the world.  

(See sources below)

Mark your calendars

Manufacturing Day is always held on the first Friday in October.  This year the event falls on October 2, 2015.  Of course, The Rodon Group has already signed up, and we encourage all manufacturing companies to join us in this national event (link to MFG Day).  SPI, the Plastics Industry Trade Association, is a sponsor of MFG Day this year and is helping to promote other plastic processors like Rodon to get involved in the event.  Let’s work together to change the perceptions about manufacturing careers and promote our U.S. made products.

Watch this video to learn more. Follow MFG Day on Twitter @MFGDay and #MFGDay15




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Sources for National Association of Manufacturers “Facts about Manufacturing”:

Bureau of Economic Analysis, Industry Economic Accounts (2014).

2 Bureau of Economic Analysis, Industry Input-Output Tables (2013).

3 Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014), with estimate of total employment supported by manufacturing calculated by NAM using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (2013, 2014).

4 Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Economic Accounts by Industry (2013).

5 NAM calculations based on data from the United NationsBureau of Labor Statistics and the International Labour Organization.

6 Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Economic Accounts by Industry (2013).

7 Bureau of Economic Analysis, Industry Economic Accounts (2014) and International Monetary Fund (2013).

- See more at: http://www.nam.org/Newsroom/Facts-About-Manufacturing/#sthash.7Xk5P503.dpuf

Friday, August 7th, 2015

Women in Manufacturing: From Rosie the Riveter to Rose the CEO

By Jill Worth, Marketing and Communications Specialist, The Rodon Group

My grandmother, Celia Shulman worked in the same factory in Philadelphia for 40 years. She made transistors for radios, TV’s and other electronics. She painted stripes on the transistors and worked in the shipping department at night. She never complained about her job and was proud to be able to go to work every day and support her family as a single mother. It was an honorable career then, and for many women in manufacturing today, still is. Rosie


Friday, July 31st, 2015

Getting Real about Marine Debris

Coral reef and the IslandAn environmental problem of the seriousness and enormity of marine debris can easily overwhelm companies and individuals into inaction. “I’m just a small manufacturer,” you can hear a business owner saying to themselves. “There’s very little I can do to make a difference.” It can be easy to slip into this mentality, but the truth is that the small steps we all take add up to a much bigger, positive effect. This is true about all large-scale issues, including marine debris.

Some of these steps can be taken within the gates of our manufacturing facilities, and some can be directed at consumer behavior. The former is often the simplest, but you might be wondering, “how can I impact the world outside of my facility?” To answer this question, SPI worked with other industry partners to create the proven and effective program known as Operation Clean Sweep (OCS), a program aimed at mitigating pellet loss from the manufacturing environment. Pellets in the ocean are a real and documented problem, but since the implementation of OCS, scientists have actually measured a decline in the presence of these pellets. No single company could have accomplished this. Rather, this decline is a perfect example of how everyone’s small efforts can add up to a larger solution. OCS is a first step that all plastics-handling companies can take in the right direction, before graduating to other collaborative efforts that companies and associations like SPI can take that enable the cause of eliminating marine debris to leap forward.OCS logo

Once companies take action within their facilities, they can focus on other additional opportunities to have an impact on marine debris issues. These come in two areas: supporting further recovery of plastics at end-of-life to help mitigate litter, and actually being part of beach cleanup efforts. “SPI is proud to have contributed” to the cause of fighting marine debris, said SPI President and CEO Bill Carteaux in a statement earlier this year that highlighted SPI’s efforts, all of which are directly supported by its membership. “But we also support the cause of eliminating marine debris by supporting recycling and educating the public about the value of plastic materials. SPI works tirelessly to create new markets for recycled plastic materials, and to spur innovation that makes recycling plastic products easier and more widespread for all consumers and for all types of plastics, from polystyrene foams to rigid packaging to plastic bags and everything in between.”

In short, an industry committing itself to the kind of environmental stewardship exemplified by OCS and the plastics industry’s other efforts to erase marine debris is all well and good, but failing to engage the consumer in these efforts only limits the possibilities for what can be achieved. The more strongly the industry can enlist consumers in its efforts, the faster the results will arrive, the more visible they’ll be and the longer they’ll last.

So, while companies shouldn’t be discouraged out of acting by the severity of marine debris, it’s safe to say that working to combat it can be a complex task. To demystify the problem and give companies the tools they need to join the fight against marine debris, SPI will host a webinar August 6 at 1 p.m. EST titled “Marine Debris: Where We Stand, and What We Can Do.” As the title suggests, the program will feature both the latest figures on marine debris as well as the numerous opportunities the industry currently has to get involved in international coastal cleanup efforts. It will also give companies that might not think OCS could apply to them (i.e. recyclers) a background on how they can start implementing these important rules to prevent the loss of plastic materials at all facilities, not just plastics manufacturing or processing plants.FriendlyTurtle_Web

“SPI will continue to work and collaborate with other industry organizations to facilitate programs that increase recycling and eliminate the loss of plastic pellets and materials that end up in our oceans and waterways,” Carteaux said. “By working together, we can drive the meaningful recovery of plastics products that will stop marine debris at its source.” We hope you’ll join us and your peers to tackle one of our generation’s greatest environmental challenges while moving your industry, and your company forward at the same time.