CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio—Change is just more than idle talk these days at Polymerics Inc.
Visitors not only can see proof of it inside the building of the custom rubber mixer, from the new, energy-efficient lighting to renovated offices, to the firm's new F80 mixer, as it works on its color line and increases cooling capabilities on its black line.
And perhaps, most notably, they can see it in the body language and hear it in the voices of the Polymerics management staff. "It's an exciting time for us," said Technical Sales Manager Santino DeSimone. "It's a great place to work."
"You enjoy walking into these doors each day," said Troy Smith, a 30-year employee and plant manager of the 56,000-sq.-ft. Cuyahoga Falls facility.
"The big difference is morale," said William Sanderson, a 24-year company veteran who is environmental, health and safety manager. "Morale is so much better, ever since Tim came back full time, working day to day."
"Tim" is CEO Tim Samples, whose family founded the firm in 1972. Samples worked at the plant from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s. He returned for his latest stint in 2011, assuming day-to-day operations of both Polymerics' facilities—the headquarters in Cuyahoga Falls and the other in Kent, Ohio, where chemical blending is conducted—in 2012. The facilities have a combined work force of around 80.
The firm also has another facility in China, two hours south of Shanghai.
Polymerics is in the process of investing $1.5 million in upgrades at the firm's Cuyahoga Falls and Kent plants. A third of that money was spent on improvements in 2013.
"(Samples) knows all the nuts and bolts of the business because he was working on the shop floor before he was in the position he is today," Smith said.
Samples has noticed the impact that the changes have made. "I wasn't gray then," he said with a laugh.
"The company had been run a certain way for a long time," he said. "It's not changing that fast, but it's changing, and it's starting to snowball."
Among the upgrades that either have been completed or will be undertaken within the next 10 months are:
• A new F80 mixer and new No. 9 mixer, installed in 2013;
• Two laboratory-scale mixers added to its research and development lab, one dedicated to color and the other to black;
• New state-of-the-art purchasing software that has helped to decrease lead times and keep inventory levels in check;
• A new dust collector that will keep the mix cleaner;
• A new oil injection system, installed at the Kent facility last year, to improve the efficiency and tolerances of the process;
• A tilt mixer, two lab extruders, two moving die rheometers, a colorimeter and a recently upgraded FTIR, added to enhance capabilities;
• A new-look website, launched last year;
• Improved, energy-efficient lighting at both facilities, a move that has saved about 25 percent on energy costs;
• Shuffling the management staff to put the right talent in the right jobs; and
• Renovated front office and receptions areas.
In addition, the company is testing different types of pelletization systems. Its goal is to install a new system by 2015.