Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Sholtis Credits Staff with ‘Manufacturer of the Year’ Award

By Mike Verespej, SPI Correspondent

You could fill a book with the long laundry list of accomplishments that led to injection-molding company Plastic Molding Technology Inc. being chosen in March as the 2014 small company Manufacturer of the Year by the Manufacturing Leadership Council. In its 10th year, Frost & Sullivan’s Manufacturing Leadership Council honors companies and individuals that are shaping the future of global manufacturing.

And while certainly proud of what the $10 million El Paso, Texas, company with 100 employees has accomplished, CEO Charles A. Sholtis is even prouder of what the award says about his workforce.

Charles Sholtis

Charles Sholtis

“The award speaks volumes about the caliber of our management team, the workforce we have, and what they’ve accomplished the last three years in streamlining processes, identifying areas for waste and cost reduction and finding ways to be more sustainable,” Sholtis said. “It says a lot about their ability to take on large projects as a team and make the company more profitable through operational excellence.”

Indeed, despite escalating raw material prices and the economic crash in late 2008, PMT achieved record revenue and earnings in fiscal years 2010 through 2013.

“You are only as good as your people. Without them, we wouldn’t be the success story we are,” said Sholtis. “These honors simply reinforce that the plastics industry is at the forefront of best practices in manufacturing.”

Here are just some of PMT’s achievements the last three years:

  • Savings of 1.8 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy per year, half of them from a grinder control system developed in-house that has reduced energy consumption on the company’s 40 plastics grinders by 95 percent or nearly 900,000 kWh annually.
  • Eighteen all-electric presses added since 2010—part of a $2.9 million investment in equipment and automation—have cut energy consumption by almost 400,000 kWh annually.
  • Plant-wide efficiency has improved to 96 percent, and on-time deliveries have risen to 98 percent.
  • Production scrap was reduced by more than 50 percent in the first year of a program to cut waste. The company also reduced its use of virgin resins by 380,000 pounds annually by blending in plastic regrind and using recycled resin.
  • A new mold storage system has saved an estimated 780 man-hours per year and sped up the mold setting process, and a new overhead crane system for mold handling has saved an estimated 250 man-hours annually.
  • A standalone mold service bench with a gantry crane on the production floor has reduced the time needed for routine cleanings, saving another 420 man-hours per year.

Frost & Sullivan’s Manufacturing Leadership Council in March honored 100 world-class manufacturing companies and individual leaders as winners of the 2014 Manufacturing Leadership Awards (ML Awards). According to the Council, recipients of the ML Awards have distinguished themselves by embracing breakthrough innovation and enabling their companies to anticipate and respond to customers with unmatched agility.

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Chinaplas 2014 Visit Opened Global Potential

By Michael Salmon, Public Affairs Manager

The modernization of China was the backdrop on a recent multi-pronged SPI trip to Chinaplas 2014, where SPI officials explored the possibilities of working with China in the recycling, production and machinery phases of the plastics industry. Representing SPI was Michael Taylor, senior director of international affairs and trade; Gene Sanders, SPI’s senior vice president of trade shows and conferences; Brad Williams, SPI’s trade show marketing and sales director; and Kim Holmes, SPI recycling and diversion director.

China’s renewed focus on new machinery and technology was apparent, and “their market is becoming more sophisticated,” noted Taylor.

The group toured two recycling facilities, including PARC Corporation in Qingdao and Wistron in Kunshan, and the opening ceremony for a new KraussMaffei factory in Haiyan. The recycling efforts at the Wistron factory were particularly noteworthy because the plant specialized in recycling plastics that was used in electronics, and the result was a compound that was 98 percent refined into pure resins, which is a higher percentage for the industry standard. “It was impressive,” Taylor said. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” added Holmes.

Holmes toured facilities with Kathy Xuan of PARC Corporation to explore the Chinese recycling efforts, particularly their developments with post-industrial scrap, PET and poly ethylene. One element of their recycling program that sparked an interest was the Chinese method to recycle PET and poly ethylene, which is not done on this level in the United States. In addition, they saw trucks packed with plastic film, and even motorcycles stacked with polystyrene, heading to recycling facilities. “With some materials, there are homes for in China that there aren’t homes for in the United States,” Holmes added.

Sanders and Williams conducted several meetings with Chinese associations to include; Chinese Plastics Machinery Industry Association, China Die & Mould Industry Association, Chinese Engineering Plastics Industry Association, Taizhou Plastics Industry Association, Shanghai Association of Die & Mould, China Scrap Plastic Association, Plastic Trade Association of Shanghai, to name a few.

As a result of those association meetings, Chinese exhibitors will have an exhibit space in NPE2015: The International Plastics Showcase in the Chinaplas booth. Numerous companies took advantage to include Harmo, CCPIT Chemical & Additives, Jiangsu Xinda, Borche’ Machinery, Ningbo Fangli, and more. On the recycling end, plans were unveiled at Chinaplas for the Zero Waste Zone in the South Hall of NPE2015

SPI member Kathy Xuan of PARC Corp., left, highlights China facility to SPI's Kim Holmes and Michael Taylor.

SPI member Kathy Xuan of PARC Corp., left, highlights China facility to SPI’s Kim Holmes and Michael Taylor.

, generating great interest from recycling companies and materials suppliers from China as well as other countries at the exhibition.

In September 2014, the China Plastics Machinery Industry Association is holding their inaugural trade show, and representatives from SPI are planning on attending. Coupled with the enthusiasm about SPI’s NPE 2015 trade show next spring, much was gained in China.  “It was successful on all the fronts,” said Taylor.

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Recycled Ocean Plastics Shape New Soap Bottle

By Michael Salmon, Public Affairs Manager

New soap bottle made partially from recycled ocean plastics.

New soap bottle made partially from recycled ocean plastics.

At SPI’s board meeting in Miami, Rudi Becker, from a San Francisco-based soap company called “Method” that recycles as well, highlighted a recent trip to Hawaii where he organized a series of beach cleanups on the north shore of Oahu. From the material collected on the beaches, Method and recycling partner, Envision Plastics produced a soap bottle that is a blend of recovered ocean plastic and post-consumer recycled plastic, with 10 percent coming from ocean plastics. It’s a monumental step in the efforts to raise awareness about the need to clean up the world’s oceans.

“The ocean plastics program has been particularly eye-opening,” Becker said.

Method is a smaller company in the grand scheme of home and healthcare products, but they have demonstrated strong leadership on environmental stewardship.  The Method ocean plastics soap bottle “is one way to raise awareness about the issue and use our business to demonstrate smart ways of using and reusing the plastics that are already on the planet,” their website states.  The soap bottle is available at Whole Foods Market®,, and many other retailers.  The Method story was a perfect addition to the content of the spring meeting, as their strategy is in line  with SPI’s zero waste strategy and support for raising awareness about the issue of plastics in the ocean.

SPI remains firmly committed to addressing the issue of sustainability and recycling with sound solutions, but has now taken the step to formalize this priority by including the pursuit of zero waste strategies in its newly approved mission statement. On the pre-consumer side, SPI’s Operation Clean Sweep program, designed to prevent resin pellet loss and help keep pellets out of the marine environment, continues to expand globally and is now being implemented in eight countries.

For others looking to make things from recycled plastic, SPI recently launched, a web site that serves as a “Plastics Recycling Marketplace” that connects buyers and sellers of scrap plastics materials and recycling services.

“SPI is committed to increasing the recovery of scrap plastics, and applauds innovative solutions, such as recycling the ocean plastics used in Method’s soap bottle” said Kim Holmes, SPI’s recycling expert.

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

War College in a Plastic World

By Kim Coghill, SPI Communications Director

While the concept of leading in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world has its roots in the U.S. military, the business community has borrowed the successful approach to strategic leadership and applied it to management training across industries.

“In reality, VUCA has never been more relevant, for the military and for business,” Gen. George W. Casey Jr. (Ret.), said in a Fortune magazine article that addresses parallels between his leadership challenges in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq, and the current business environment.

Recognizing the value of VUCA leadership training, organizers of the 2014 Equipment & Moldmakers Leadership Summit in October have scheduled a half-day Executive Workshop designed to apply VUCA principles to plastics manufacturing management. The program, “Leading in a VUCA World,” will be taught by international business experts from the world renowned Thunderbird School of Global Management.

“Regardless of an organization’s size and footprint, the workshop is designed to equip attendees with strategies to overcome the challenges and seize the opportunities presented in a global industry,” said Jackie Dalzell, SPI’s director of industry affairs and staff leader for the Equipment & Moldmakers Council.

Leadership thinkers have been turning to lessons learned from the military to create paradigms for surviving and thriving in a turbulent, “permanent whitewater” world where old styles of managing predictability were falling short, Thunderbird professors Paul Kinsinger and Karen Walch said in an article titled, “Living and Leading in a VUCA World.”

Kinsinger and Walch said research shows that the keys to leading in a VUCA world include possessing the knowledge, mindfulness and ability to:

  1. Create a vision and “make sense of the world.” Sense-making is perhaps more important now than at any time in modern history for many companies, as we are not too many years away from the time when the global economy will actually be truly “global,” encompassing every country and in which competitors will be emanating from everywhere.
  2. Understand one’s own and others’ values and intentions. This speaks to having a core ability to know what you want to be and where you want to go at all times, even while being open to multiple ways to get there.
  3. Seek clarity regarding yourself and seek sustainable relationships and solutions. Leading in turbulence demands the ability to utilize all facets of the human mind. Even the most impressive cognitive minds will fall short in the VUCA world — it will take equal parts cognitive, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical intelligence to prevail.
  4. Practice agility, adaptability and buoyancy. This means the responsive and resilient ability to balance adroitly and right yourself to ride out those turbulent forces that cannot be avoided, and to pivot quickly to seize advantage of those that can be harnessed.
  5. Develop and engage social networks. The ability to recognize that the days of the single “great leader” are gone. In the VUCA world, the best leaders are the ones who harness leadership from everyone.

The Executive Workshop scheduled for the Summit is based on strategies developed by the U.S. Army College at the end of the Cold War to address threats that created a VUCA world.  Attendees will learn fundamental principles of a VUCA “antidote” combined with specific strategies resulting from in-depth research on trends impacting the plastics industry. The SPI 2014 Equipment & Moldmakers Leadership Summit is scheduled Sunday, Oct. 26 through Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, at Loew’s Ventana Canyon in Tucson, Ariz.

Other highlights of the Summit include a Brand Owner Panel discussing technology needs to support their product innovations, what equipment manufacturers and moldmakers need to know about new and reformulated materials, update on the U.S. manufacturing renaissance and re-shoring initiatives, and much more.  Register today by clicking here, seats are filling up fast!  We look forward to seeing you in Tucson.



Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Strong Start for Future Leaders in Plastics

By Katie Masterson, SPI Program Manager, Industry Affairs, and FLiP Liaison

The Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP) gained momentum this past week as a group of young leaders in plastics traveled to the SPI headquarters to  brainstorm, establish a mission for the group and further explore the benefits that SPI provides.

From left, Shreyas Naik ,Michael Stark, Brennan Georgianni, Jacob Groh, Jason Smith, Heather McKee, Gerry Benedicto, Beth Trenor, Lucas Shaffchick, Jennifer Zerda, Ricky Schultz, Shannon Stickler, Nic Nixon

Seeking representation across SPI’s membership for this brainstorm, seated members from the four Industry-sector Councils nominated a small group of young professionals under 40 years of age for this first meeting.

This group, accompanied by young leaders among SPI’s staff, kicked the meeting off on Thursday, April 24 with a tour of the Capitol and networking dinner. The next day, SPI President and CEO, William R. Carteaux highlighted the advantages of belonging to a trade association like SPI. Ted Fisher, Material Suppliers Council Chair, reinforced those benefits and provided a member perspective. Then the group launched into brainstorming and had several breakouts throughout the day where items were discussed and a plan was laid out for the direction of FLiP.

Some ideas that resulted from the brainstorm include:

  • Recognizing and bringing together young professionals at current SPI conferences and events
  • A networking reception at NPE next spring
  • Better leveraging and informing SPI benefits to  this age group
  • A mentor program

The group will be pursuing becoming an official committee of SPI’s, finalizing a mission statement and will be working with Katie Masterson and other SPI staff to draft a set of bylaws so they can begin to tackle some of these ideas and tasks that resulted from the meeting.

“We’re going to try to keep this positive forward momentum going as a result of this meeting,” said Masterson.

To be added to FLiP communication, please e-mail your contact information to: or contact Katie Masterson at (202) 974-5200.

(Pictured from left, Shreyas Naik, Michael Stark, Brennan Georgianni, Jacob Groh, Jason Smith, Heather McKee, Gerry Benedicto, Beth Trenor, Lucas Shaffchick, Jennifer Zerda, Ricky Schultz, Shannon Stickler, Nic Nixon and Annina Donaldson)