Part 1 of MAPP's New Member Series - a Weekly Spotlight of MAPP Members and the Leaders Who Keep Things Running
It is not often getting your wheels stolen leads to running a plastics company – but that is exactly the case with Tyson Daniels, president and CEO of Polymer Contours out of Allentown, PA. In 2011, after getting his wheels stolen off of his car, Daniels designed a theft-proof lug nut, an innovation that would lead down a long path of entrepreneurism and the purchase of a plastics company.
While still working in his previous career as the Director of Operations for seven restaurants, in 2015 Daniels purchased Polymer Contours, an injection molding facility. At the time, Polymer Contours had one customer and only ran three products in PE. After nearly 18 months of attempting to simultaneously continue in his restaurant career and run (and grow) Polymer Contours, Daniels realized if he wanted to grow his business, he needed to take the leap and go in full-time.
“It was a true ‘burning the candle at both ends’ scenario. I spent my old life making failing restaurants profitable again. After my acquisition in 2015, I stayed in my position for the first year and a half before taking the plunge and going full time, which was as scary as it was thrilling. I think the coolest part of this is that my old company is now a customer who distributes our product throughout the US and UK,” remarks Daniels.
The decision turned out to be a remarkably good one, as the company has seen dramatic growth over the last few years. The company now has 20 customers, running engineering grade resin with 60 percent of the operation running lights out. This accomplishment remains strong in the company’s memory.
“My favorite moment, by far, was the first lights-out shift we ran back in December of 2017. When I purchased the company, we had three programs in place and ran only one shift, so the first time leaving while machines were running was invigorating!”
And the success continues to come, as the company has recently began its move into scientific molding. The change has allowed the Polymer Contours’ team to reduce waste, increase production time, reduce cycle time and create consistency throughout the facility.
As with any company, each day present itself a little differently, but Daniels comments that their unique position allowed them to “enjoy the essence of ‘getting better’ each day, each shift and each production run. The growth process of both creating and implementing systems is, at its core, exhilarating!”
Of course growth and success in any industry is challenging, especially for someone new to the plastics industry. “The best piece of advice I was ever given was ‘surround yourself with great people, and you’ll be successful,'” Daniels comments. He credits this advice to his ability to become a more effective leader and operational professional. Daniels and his team have been able to leverage the knowledge of other industry experts to catalyze their growth.
“This advice was solidified when I met Bob Holbrook. Bob and I hit it off right away, and he immediately became a mentor and has been nothing but an inspiration and source of knowledge ever since. Bob told me during our very first conversation, and I think about it every day, ‘Just take care of the customer, and you’ll be okay.’ As simple as this seems it has been a fundamental principal of ours ever since.”
It was also this advice that led Polymer Contours to join the MAPP network. “A few hours after my first conversation with Bob Holbrook, which was just a few weeks prior to the 2016 Benchmarking Conference, he called me up and told me that there was an event that I needed to attend. He said he understood it was last minute, but it was full of great people and the knowledge that comes with being around those in the industry. He told me to look up MAPP and do some reading. He also told me that I would be getting a call from a guy name Troy Nix. Sure enough, 10 minutes later Troy himself was telling me his story and how he came from one membership and a dream, to holding a benchmarking conference for over 500 people. So, I booked my tickets that day and here we are.”
As for what the next twelve months has in store for Polymer Contours, they plan to focus on sales, growth, efficiency in processes and reducing overall waste. “We are looking to increase capacity through the addition of a new machine as well as another robot for our largest press. This will allow us to fill orders sooner and increase efficiency while providing better turnaround time for our customer. We are hoping to acquire more real estate within our current building, so that we can expand by the second quarter of 2019.”
While the future remains exciting for the 4-year-old organization, the team at Polymer Contours remains focused and excited in its daily successes. “We have grown from just two customers to 20, so each time a new program comes online, we get to experience the fruits of our labor! Being new to the industry, we make mistakes and hit walls. But we try to have a spirit of learning in our plant. Within each misstep, there is a lesson if the mindset is right.”
When it comes to that spirit of learning, it is his team, mentors, and the network Daniels has chosen to surround himself with that help to encourage continuous education and a learning mindset. “MAPP has been a huge inspiration for me and each time I get off a webinar, or I leave the conference, I have such excitement and appreciate that I am now part of this industry. I have met so many amazing people and learned so much just by listening. I am honored to be a part of MAAP and it has shown me that I am in the right place.”
Polymer Contours joined MAPP on March 1, 2018. Polymer Contours is an injection molding facility located in Allentown, PA. The organization provides a wide assortment of plastic molded injection projects using machines ranging from 80-Ton to 200-Ton. The company works with many local businesses, start-ups, small customers and others seeking the customized service offered by our experienced company leadership. Polymer Contours’ capabilities span from new product development through full scale production runs. www.polymercontours.com