Making an Impact
Plastic extruder Engineered Profiles LLC is based in Columbus, Ohio and supplies custom-profile components to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
The company has an astounding history that goes back over seventy-one years, beginning as Crane Plastics. In 2009, the management team purchased the company from the Crane Family, renaming it Engineered Profiles LCC. Engineered Profiles continues to attract a high-quality customer base by being the best in its class in safety, quality, delivery cost, and technology while aiming to truly become customer focused in all that they do.
The company deals primarily in extrusion, but offers a number of innovative value-add services to customers. It is also vertically integrated in its tooling, with design groups continually working on innovative ideas of how to help the production team manufacture parts more consistently, with higher quality, and faster rates.
President and CEO Mike Davis cites tight-knit partnerships with the company’s raw material and equipment suppliers as vital to success. “Companies live and die by raw materials you’re able to convert into components. Having excellent relationships with raw material suppliers has always been key strategy and, as a result, has been a huge advantage for EP and our customers.”
Apart from its day-to-day operations, another point of pride within Engineered Profiles is its innovation department, which seeks to think more broadly about new materials and extrusion processes as well as use research and development to create new solutions for customers. The company reorganized itself to have a new research and development team last year, something that it was unable to focus on during the economic downturn of the last decade, where the focus had to be its survival. Now the company is looking ahead and exploring new markets, some of which are not traditionally associated with extrusion.
This renewed focus has seen tremendous response from customers, says Vick Dhanapal, VP of Innovation, and has resulted in eliminating inefficiencies, as well as generating new products and procedures. The Engineered Profiles team is practically buzzing with excitement for new products that will come to market in 2019 and beyond.
The vinyl industry has been thriving and has markedly improved from where it was. The current global environmental situation has given plastics a bit of a bad name in some regards, but Engineered Profiles is proud to be a large consumer of post-industrial recycling to keep plastics out of landfills and the environment. Plastic and vinyl are no longer looked at with derision; on the contrary, more customers, looking for products with a longer service life, are seeking out vinyl solutions over such materials as metal and wood, which do not last as long as plastic does.
Davis says that there has been a lot of hard work done within the industry to create a position where plastics and vinyl can outperform other solutions, be more environmentally friendly than in the past, easier to produce, and of higher quality. Engineered Profiles continues to make its name at the forefront of this change.
Without a dedicated and educated workforce, a company like this would not get very far at all. Manufacturing of any kind requires a deep investment in employees, and extrusion specifically requires human intervention to maintain quality. Engineered Profiles has instituted a new training program with this idea in mind to keep employee retention up, especially with automation and overseas production threatening these numbers.
Longstanding Engineered Profiles plant manager Paul Cunningham was appointed to train new employees and created a new training module from the ground up to teach the basics of extrusion to people of any skill level. His training replaces the standard shadowing and apprenticeship model. The company was awarded Plastics News magazine’s excellence award for 2016 in recognition of the training program, and the company regards the award proudly.
A prominent feature of the training program is a publicly posted skills matrix, which helps to identify employees who are proficient in certain desirable skills needed for a job. This has reduced employee turnover and improved quality and efficiency rates, reducing costs as a result. Engineered Profiles has been made stronger because of this investment in its employees.
Several employees have been invited to speak at technical and manufacturing conferences, which is an honor as meaningful as any award. These appearances include several female employees who were featured in a ‘Women in Plastics’ article series in Plastics News magazine and various instances when leaders in the company have been invited to speak at gatherings such as the Manufacturers Association for Plastic Processors.
The efforts of Engineered Profiles’ sales support staff do not go unrecognized within the company. The team works to launch new projects and will improve quality metrics of all kinds. Dhanapal says that the company “[doesn’t] have one-off relationships with customers,” and that the company will end up producing parts for its customers for many years, with some clients touting a thirty-year relationship with the company. He notes that Engineered Profiles has brought innovations that became so integrated into some customers’ supply chains that a client’s needs can practically be predicted before one says what is needed on a project.
In plastics, much like a great many North American businesses today, there is mounting pressure from overseas markets as companies in other countries improve, leading to increased competition in providing a financially feasible and superior product. However, back at home, another problem ties in transportation. There is currently a huge crisis in America within the transport industry, as there are simply not enough drivers to move goods, which, in turn, affects companies of all types.
The company seeks to counter this by partnering with transportation companies. Unfortunately, the issue seems to be ongoing for the foreseeable future. Engineered Profiles remains confident that the solutions it has taken will see it through uncertain times.
Engineered Profiles is growing at a dramatic rate, with revenues and profits on the rise. There has been a recent leadership change within the company, as Chief Executive Officer Tim Tait has retired and passed on his role to a new management team, which Mike Davis says is an exciting prospect for the company’s future.
He says that “every single person in North America has interacted with parts that have come out of [Engineered Profiles] in a positive way,” whether it is parts to a window or door, important cargo carried on a truck that contained parts from the company, or even energy in homes processed from parts the company helped make. Engineered Profiles looks to this as an indicator of what it aims to do indefinitely: make a positive impact on its community and the industry, on both a local and global scale.