People make the difference for any company | News, sports, jobs

Last week we were in Florida for the Plastic News Executive Forum.

While we were here, I wanted to see my friend Al, who is battling cancer. We spent an afternoon with him and his wife in January. Unfortunately he was in the hospital and we couldn’t come by.

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’ll call when he can talk. He needs our encouragement. Although, like all people, it must be remembered that he is important and that others care about him.

The Plastics News Executive Forum is attended by the executives, owners and senior employees of plastics processors, their suppliers and support organizations. The companies are mainly medium-sized with 100-400 employees.

The processors are the companies that supply us with essential products. They save countless lives with the medical equipment they make. We had lunch with a company that makes critical parts for equipment used in heart surgery. Another company is developing medical items that will be used for vaccines and other medicines during the pandemic.

Companies make thousands of products, such as household products, from kitchen items to TVs and computers, packaging to protect food and shipping other products without damage. They also make auto and appliance parts.

Electric vehicles cannot exist without plastics that make up 70% or more of the vehicle, making it lightweight and maximizing distance per charge.

Shale Crescent USA was on hand to provide industry information on the new Shale Crescent USA-Jobs Ohio Study showing that plastic products can be made more cheaply in the Shale Crescent USA than in China.

Due to automation, labor is no longer the most important cost item. The most important cost items today are energy, raw materials and transport by sea. Reducing the now $59 billion worth of imported plastic products per year not only creates high-wage jobs, it also shortens supply chains and reduces costs and emissions. It can also make us less dependent on places like China. The companies present are not well known outside the industry, but are essential for the consumers in our country and the US.

Awards were presented at the conference for Best Places to Work 2023. Employee surveys and feedback played a major role in this award.

These companies have no problem finding and retaining staff. Some have a waiting list of employees ready to come and work for them. We heard details from each of the top companies. Each owner shared how important their employees are to their success. These companies don’t just pay lip service to the interests of their employees. They show it through their actions.

Highly competitive pay and benefits such as paid health care were commonplace. They also do unique things like paid lunches. Ice cream trucks just show up. Picnics, parties, golf outings and other team building events. Employees and management work together on service projects. These companies are small compared to large national companies, community is important to them. The director of the company and the 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 have all found ways to give employees flexibility in working hours, time off, vacations and family emergencies. One company closed four times for a whole week in the summer and paid everyone. This was in addition to the normal holiday time. Another gave everyone Friday afternoon

out. Most people were still working from home where possible. A hybrid model with people in the office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays was the most popular. Employee training was part of all Best Places to Work companies.

One of the other criteria of the award is that companies must be consistently profitable. Employee benefits don’t matter if the company goes bankrupt. It was very clear that these complainants did not view the money spent on employees for wages, benefits, training and other activities as an expense, but that they were investments that created profits and growth and were also the right thing to do.

The companies that win this award are also industry leaders in terms of growth and profitability. The CEOs, company presidents and owners all attributed their success to their people. Treating everyone as important team members makes a difference. The CEO is not someone in a big office in a distant city. They are seen all the time. They are accessible.

A lady was sitting at our table. Her business is international with offices in North America and Asia. She told us that most of her job was spending time with her clients and her employees. For that she would leave for Asia on Saturday.

There was also an award for Processor of the Year. This was a big deal with the award given out at a closing night black tie dinner. We met the top companies that were finalists for the reward. It was clear that these companies, as well as the Best Placers to Work companies, were run rather than managed by top management. These leaders empower their employees to make important decisions and support them even when they fail. A managing partner added, “If we don’t fail, we don’t take enough risks.”

People are essential to the success of any business. People who are hardworking, reliable and creative make companies successful. Treating people like team members and taking care of their needs can build loyalty. People like to see the big picture. If they know the vision and goals of the organization, they will help to achieve it. West Virginia and Ohio were well represented. A West Virginia company added 3 lines in 2023 and needed more people. We are planning expansions for several businesses in Ohio in 2023. Helping existing businesses expand can create jobs much faster than starting from scratch with a new business in the area. We need both. We can learn from successful organizations.

Greg Kozera,, is the director of marketing and sales for Shale Crescent USA, He is a professional engineer with a master’s degree in environmental engineering and more than 40 years of experience in the energy industry. He is a professional speaker and author of four books and numerous published articles.

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