Plastics maker keeps wary eye on worker safety

SAFETY IS AS SAFETY DOES: Robert Lebeaux, right, founder, president and CEO of The Plastics Group of America, has made employee safety a cornerstone of the company’s approach to business. With him are plant manager Brian Curley, left, and Leo De Lorme, assistant plant manager. / PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
SAFETY IS AS SAFETY DOES: Robert Lebeaux, right, founder, president and CEO of The Plastics Group of America, has made employee safety a cornerstone of the company’s approach to business. With him are plant manager Brian Curley, left, and Leo De Lorme, assistant plant manager. / PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY

The Plastics Group of America takes very seriously the famous scene in the film “The Graduate” in which a man tells Benjamin Braddock, a recent college grad, that the future of business success lies in “plastics!”
The company has followed that advice in a dramatic way. Forty-one years after starting as a one-man operation, The Plastics Group has become an award-winning plastics-manufacturing company serving all aspects of the industry.
Among the normal concerns in a business, such as profitability, customer service, investment and so on, The Plastics Group has placed a strong emphasis on safety in the workplace. The company has won the OSHA Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Award 17 years in a row, said Greg Czarnow, the company’s marketing coordinator.
“So we have a track record in that area,” Czarnow added. “We’ve always been committed to training our employees in workplace safety. When new machinery comes in, we make sure our employees become familiar with what to wear on the job and how to approach the equipment safely.”
“Ever since I founded this company over 40 years ago,” said Robert Lebeaux, president and CEO, “employee safety has been at the forefront of our internal focus here at Plastics Group of America. Our ongoing training programs and performance reviews ensure that the highest level of employee safety is achieved and maintained everywhere in our facilities. We are proud of the safe working environment we have created and the corresponding safety record that we have been able to achieve here through this commitment to employee safety.”
The Plastics Group supplies plastic compounds, polymers and resin pellets to the manufacturers of end products ranging from lawn mower shields to automobiles and furniture.
The company opened in 1973 as Ralco Industries Inc., a one-man company that bought and sold scrap resin materials. Lebeaux’s business partner, Michael Rosenthal, joined the company in 1979.
Since then, the company has racked up annual sales and revenue well into the multimillion dollar range.
Its manufacturing facility, warehouse and corporate offices are in Woonsocket, with distribution points across the country. It supplies products and services throughout the continental United States and internationally. Its services include brokering and selling plastic materials and custom compounding and manufacturing thermoplastic resins to meet the needs of molding, extrusion and blow-molding processors.
“We provide the raw materials for end-user products,” Czarnow explained. “We add different components depending on what the end product needs to do. With glass or talc, the quality of the resin is then more flexible or stronger. The right compound also addresses heat sensitivity, when high heat won’t melt the end product.” The Plastics Group has a reputation for looking out for its clients as well as its employees, Lebeaux said. “The company motto for interacting with clients,” he said, “is ‘Doing the Needful,’ which means going above and beyond what is expected when it comes to product quality and customer service to ensure that each and every client with whom we deal is completely satisfied.”
The company boasts that in 1996 it became one of the first medium-sized compounders in the United States to attain ISO 9002 Certification. This recognition expanded and standardized the company’s quality systems and provided customers with the needed assurances that the company’s products met the industry’s quality requirements and needs.
In 1997 The Plastics Group agreed to participate in OSHA’s Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Program. OSHA inspected the company’s facilities, systems, policies and procedures to see if the company was maintaining an effective safety and health program. OSHA’s findings determined TPG’s safety and health program to be outstanding and TPG was recognized as a SHARP award winner in 1997.
At the time, OSHA stated, “By achieving SHARP status, you have placed yourself in an elite group of small businesses that maintain exemplary injury and illness prevention programs.”
The Plastics Group has continued to participate annually in SHARP since 1997 and has won this prestigious award for 17 consecutive years.
The company’s other virtue is that it won’t hesitate to reinvent itself in an effort to meet the customers’ evolving needs and challenges. Its first major reinvention and reinvestment, in 1978, was to purchase equipment that recycled thermoplastics. This was long before it was considered an environmental and marketing advantage to use and promote environmentally safe procedures.
The process, The Plastics Group officials say, ensured that its scrap or unused resin would be reclaimed and reprocessed. As a result, the company’s waste generation is zero.
At that time, the company also began working with several companies to expand its environmentally safe product lines. The Plastics Group officials estimate that more than 2 million pounds of scrap materials are stopped from being deposited in landfills annually, keeping the environment and landfills more free of resin waste.
Also in the late 1970s The Plastics Group expanded its product lines by providing custom compounding services and supplying reinforced thermoplastics under the trade name Polifil, a product that uses additives and agents, including mineral, talc, calcium, mica, glass and barium, for applications in the automotive, medical, appliance, toy, hardware and furniture industries.
The Plastics Group’s latest addition to this product line is a twin-screw extruder line that began operating in January. This continued reinvestment has allowed The Plastics Group to become a global supplier of high-quality thermoplastics resins used in many of the products consumers and companies use daily, TPG officials say.
The Plastics Group officials also say the company’s commitment to customer service and product quality has been a driving force since the company began in 1973. An early manufacturing adopter of social media, The Plastics Group has maintained a Web presence and used the Internet in an effort to meet customer needs and to provide additional customer support. •

No posts to display