The plastics industry converged in Indianapolis in October for the Benchmarking & Best Practices Conference. More than 600 attendees gathered for an intense two days of education, inspiration and sharing with members of the plastics molding industry.

Photos courtesy of Cliff Ritchey Photography

In addition to keynote presentations from respected thought leaders, interactions with fellow attendees added incredible value. Breakout sessions gave dozens of molding industry peers the chance to describe real-life organizational success stories that can be implemented in other businesses – proving yet again the power of attendee engagement.


Photos courtesy of Cliff Ritchey Photography

Troy Nix, MAPP Executive Director

Nix shared a compelling message about the power of self-doubt. Nix spoke about the determination and fortitude of David Goggins, the only member of the US armed forces to complete elite training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger and Air Force Tactical Air Controller. Goggins credited his mental toughness to a willingness to get better by doing the things he does not like – and doing them often. Nix reminded attendees that self-doubt often creeps in – but a positive mental attitude and a willingness to work can overcome it.

Photos courtesy of Cliff Ritchey Photography

Chris McChesney, Franklin Covey

Focusing on the principles of 4DX and framing the work ahead as a battle to be won, McChesney spoke about the execution challenges faced by senior leaders. Too many times, leaders are unable to separate the day job (the urgent tasks that are always front and center) from the goals that move the organization forward (the important work that often is neglected).

McChesney urged attendees to focus on two to three wildly important goals, because there will always be more good ideas than there is capacity to execute. He recommended acting on lead measures – which are influenceable – and keeping a visible scoreboard, because people play differently when they are keeping score. Finally, he also stressed the importance of a cadence of accountability: What are the one or two things that can be done this week to win the war?

Photos courtesy of Cliff Ritchey Photography

Kina Hart, Speaker

Kina Hart silenced the room with a plea to emphasize workplace safety processes. At age 20, Hart eagerly accepted a summer job in a salmon processing facility in Alaska, hoping to fund her college education. Instead, on the first day of her new job – within the first hour of her new job – Hart was the victim of an accident that resulted in the loss of her left arm.

Photos courtesy of Cliff Ritchey Photography

Hart spoke candidly about the lasting impact of the accident on her family and her life. She stressed the individual responsibility each of the attendees must take to ensure the workplace environment is safe, the people within it are trained and that everyone understands the dangers that come with the job.

Hart reminded the audience that their personal safety is their responsibility, and that relying on others to ensure a safe work environment could cost them for the rest of their lives.

Kirk Weisler, Team Dynamics

Culture building beats team building every time. Building a strong workplace culture is critical in today’s competitive employment atmosphere, and Weisler focused his message on simple strategies that have a big effect. His most important advice? Meaningful recognition expressed weekly is essential to the human soul.

Creating relationships is an essential part of culture creation, and recognizing the skill and dedication of the employee base is step one. He also suggested a short daily meeting that could include recognition, education and a moment to connect, because what we learn about each other forms the basis of the relationships that allow us to work together and succeed as a team.

Tim Riesterer, Author and Speaker

Researcher, author and speaker Tim Riesterer provided strategies for winning and keeping customers, telling attendees that the key to winning new customers lies in getting them to understand that they lose by staying with their current provider.

Photos courtesy of Cliff Ritchey Photography

Ross Bernstein, Sports Author

Sports author Ross Bernstein was the final speaker on the main stage, closing the event by relating stories from the athletic world to situations within the business world to provide an understanding of how accountability and integrity influence success.


Photos courtesy of Cliff Ritchey Photography

Peer-to-Peer Exchanges

One of the best networking opportunities at the conference, Peer-to-Peer Exchanges allow attendees to discuss topics that are unique to their job functions with others in those same job functions. Why reinvent the wheel when someone else sitting at the table already has a potential solution?

In the Operations and Engineering Peer-to-Peer Exchange session, topics discussed included:

  • Holding operators accountable for meeting quality targets
  • Fitting emergency orders into scheduled daily production work
  • Making time for training without disrupting operations
  • Keeping younger employees engaged and involved

Peer-to-Peer Exchanges also were held for Executive Stakeholders/Owners, Senior Leaders (Presidents/VPs), Human Resources/Safety, Sales & Marketing, Operations/Engineering and CFOs/Finance/IT.2019-benchmarking-best-practices-conference-sponsors2020-benchmarking-best-practices-conference