Daring to be Different

A.P. Plasman Build-a-Mold

Build-a-Mold was founded in 1978 Alec Pinsonneault. It began in a small facility and as the industry evolved, the company grew to meet the changing needs of its clients. From its inception the company’s shop grew from 2 000 to 35 000 square feet, and it acquired four injection molding machines for tool tryouts. In 1992 the company began to diversify with expansion into the plastics industry, later acquiring a paint facility as well as a molding and assembly operation. Today the company is a highly integrated, full service supplier in the plastics industry with over 900 000 square feet of plant space.

Ninety percent of Build-a-Mold’s business is done for the automotive sector, and the company offers the industry a variety of services. Build-a-Mold manufactures injection molds for under-hood products like intake manifolds, air cleaners, resonators, oil pans and valve covers. “We do have competitors,” explains Sales Manager, David Palmer, “but it’s the nature of the product which is Part to Print, that makes us unique. Everybody can cut steel, but when the part is molded and assembled it has to be to-Print, so whether the steel is correct or not, we are responsible for the accuracy of the molded product.” While the company’s competitors might be able to provide like services, few offer precisely the same customization, as it carries a high calculated risk. Build-A-Mold also manufactures tooling for forming boards which allow for the precise bending of vehicle stabilizers, Fixtures, Gauges and Secondary Equipment, as well as Weld Fixtures to complement the vibration welded product it produces.

Currently Build-a-Mold is celebrating its 35th anniversary. Its corporate culture as a part of the A.P. Plasman Corporation involves a plethora of community involvement and representation. “We get into a lot of different fund raising events, and this year we are sponsoring JDRF. We are also active with Big Brothers and Big Sisters,” says John Stachow, Director of Program Management. “This is how we want to be involved and at the same time get our name out there as a community brother. Most of our charitable contributions deal with issues that affect the lives of children.” The company has been active in the ‘We Care For Kids’ campaign, and recently employees raised $32 000 for the juvenile diabetes walk. Over 150 people participated, and each person averaged an impressive $215 in donations.

The benevolent corporate culture has also led to a high rate of employee retention. Build-a-Mold aspires to make all its employees feel as if they are part of the team and hold a stake in the company. For instance, the company has regular town hall meetings that are attended by the CEO, CFO, and Vice-President of Human Resources. The management address all the employees and open themselves up for questions with four to five sessions a year that provide an overview of the state of the industry along with an assessment of A.P. Plasman and Build-a-Mold’s market standing. Consequently, most employees feel they play a valuable role in the company’s ownership and operation. The same management chiefs also sponsor a lunch during which anyone can sign up and ask the senior officials questions in a non-threatening atmosphere.

“Every plant holds monthly or quarterly meetings where financial information is shared. There is no guessing about how the corporation is doing,” says Mr. Stachow. “We also have a very stringent Performance Management process where people have individual development plans so that they can work on things to better themselves.” Included in this are cascaded goals and objectives that come down from the CEO to the staff that participate in the Performance Management process. There is no guesswork when it comes to what is expected of employees, as management lays out clearly defined objectives.

A.P. Plasman also places a special emphasis on environmental management, which is crucial for a company that works so extensively with plastics, paints and other potentially toxic substances. The company conducts regular testing at all of its paint plants for air quality around the nearby communities. Mr. Stachow notes, “there is drilling within the plants in the floors of all the facilities to see if there is any seepage or contamination to the soil. We track it, and we also have a pretty strict recycling policy. We track our waste for sorting costs.” He says, “we consider ourselves to be very environmentally conscious.”

When it comes to health and safety, Build-a-Mold is every bit as diligent. Every plant meeting or town hall provides a venue for discussing ‘safety metrics.’ Similarly, monthly financial office meetings focus first and foremost on health and safety. Every plant presents health and safety statistics twice a year along with any improvements being made towards making the workplace a safer environment. “We create our own standards, which surpass industry standards. We listen to our employees and their concerns. If there is a run on sprains, strains or lacerations then we look at what can be done with the equipment. We have health and safety people sitting in on community task forces to help improve the standards.”

Build-a-Mold is continuously trying to improve the technology it possesses because in the end it equates to lower costs for customers. To this end, the company will be investing in new high-speed equipment and machinery, while streamlining design times with continuous software development, making the company more competitive in the global market. “We are interested in hearing what new technologies are out there and part of that is working with our customers, original equipment manufacturers, whether they’re recreational or auto customers,” says Mr. Palmer.

Build-a-Mold’s biggest customer is its parent company, A.P. Plasman; twenty to twenty-five percent of its revenue comes from corporate. Nonetheless, the company is always looking for growth and to expand its sales revenue. The company also has room to grow, with open capacity at the A.P. Plasman facility in Alabama that is only two years old. The facility was necessary as a strategic location, with its proximity to OEMs such as Mercedes, Volkswagen, GM, Hyundai, and Honda, all with a base of operations in the American South.

A.P. Plasman and Build-A-Mold are carving out terrain where most of their competitors fear to tread. The team is taking calculated risks that are paying off very well. After thirty-five years, the company possesses proven business practices along with a happy workforce and customer base. The business has achieved great success through its diversification initiatives within the auto industry and is sought out for its expertise and attention to detail. “We have the recognition that we earned,” says Mr. Palmer. “We have changed a lot of the logos and signs around the plant on the inside and outside to reflect that which shows that we have some history to be proud of.”

October 23, 2017, 1:53 AM EDT

Wind on the Rise

In the world of renewable energy, wind power is growing fast. It is projected that 10 percent of the energy generated in the United States will come from wind farms by 2020. Offshore wind farms are a relatively new addition to the American energy market, but the technology has been well established in Europe and is now taking off state-side as well.