In the early 1990s, a small group of plastics processors began gathering in a hotel meeting room in Indiana with the goal of making the plastics industry more competitive. Bringing companies together in mini-clusters around a region to share common problems and work together to find solutions proved to be a concept that resonated.
“Timing is key for everything, and at that time, there wasn’t an association working with small to mid-sized processors,” explained Troy Nix, MAPP executive director. “It was the right time to open the lines of communication, deal with work force issues and help them to know their neighbors.”
In 1997, the association was formally incorporated and, with three employees, the work of reaching out to suppliers and processors, primarily in the Midwest region, began. “Our focus was in getting people around a table to understand that we could really be something if we could stop looking at each other as competitors and instead see others who could help us survive,” said Nix.
“If we hadn’t become an active member of the association, we wouldn’t be in the position we are in now as a company,” said Mike Walter, Met2Plastic, Chicago, Illinois. “The supplier network has helped us assess operational activity, and we’ve been able to use that as a guideline to change how we do things and make us more efficient internally.”
“The relatively low entry cost drew me in and helped me better understand the vision and purpose of the association,” said Kelly Goodsel, Viking Plastics, Corry, Pennsylvania. “MAPP has provided direct benefits to my company in monetary discounts from suppliers and through the conferences and plant tours where I’ve been challenged to think bigger and better. MAPP exists to promote improvement, we’ve embraced that and we’ve seen multiple returns on our investment.”
Today, as MAPP celebrates its 20th anniversary, membership has grown far beyond those few people who gathered in a hotel meeting room in Indiana. More than 500 plastics processors gather each fall in Indianapolis for the annual Benchmarking & Best Practices Conference. Thirty to 50 attend quarterly plant tours held in molding facilities across the country. Plastics professionals with similar job functions devote an hour each quarter to a conference call where challenges directly related to their daily To Do lists are discussed and solutions are found. The association has become a living, breathing representation of the plastics processing industry.
“We were so laser focused on making this work, there was no option to fail,” said Nix. “It shouldn’t have worked – it was horrible timing – but, the people who sat around that first meeting table had a vision. And, the organization is even more driven to succeed today, because we have so much more to lose.”