Global Polymer Industries and its team thrive on complexity and creativity.
They work with a material, UHMW-PE, that’s not easy to work with, but have earned a reputation for solving customers’ toughest challenges, ones that other plastics manufacturers couldn’t.
Whether learning to embed steel within UHMW-PE or developing proprietary, increasingly automated molding techniques that reduce waste and improve consistency, Global Polymer prides itself on saying, “Yes, we can do that,” when customers bring an idea.
“We take on projects and solve problems that most companies can’t or won’t tackle. And that’s the difference,” says Pete Gustaf, VP/chief strategy officer. “And that’s why we are so strong and growing.”
Innovation and practical solutions are embedded in the DNA. Because they had to be, as the company and its veteran leadership grew with UHMW-PE, learning how to work with it and, unlike many manufacturers, mold it instead of machine it. They apply a Midwest work ethic and a farmer’s determination to fix it themselves, because nobody else would fix it for them.
“We started as a small business and have grown into who we are today, but we still have those family business ideals,” says Derek Mertz, business analyst and a veteran of many jobs at the company. “We all work together to serve our customers’ needs as best we can.”
“When the problem is complex, whether it’s molding metal within parts or the shape of the part is complex, that’s where we beat our competitors,” Mertz says.
The pride that is part of Global Polymer’s approach and culture comes from confidence – and not bravado – built on experience meeting expectations. It’s also built on teamwork.
Examples abound of that team philosophy. Team members sit around a table, working together to scrape excess plastic from molded parts. An employee, under the weather, bucks up and finishes payroll from home because co-workers are counting on them. Managers and other employees step in – and even train up on – on the production floor to run equipment that molds parts or performs other tasks, because a customer is counting on the company to meet a critical deadline.
“Everyone’s pulling in the same direction. You are going to see managers working just as hard as you are,” Mertz says.
BUILDING THEIR OWN TEAM
Across company leadership, virtually everyone has performed multiple jobs in multiple departments at Global Polymer. That delivers a depth of expertise and displays a commitment to growing people and promoting from within.
“It helps foster that culture. People see their boss in the trenches with them. And they’re like, ‘Okay, if he’s doing that, I can do it, too,’” says Bobbi Lingbeck, customer service.
With an open door philosophy, team members know that they will be listened to and that they can give suggestions on better, more efficient ways to manufacture a part or do a job. That spirit of innovation and creativity, after all, is how Global Polymer earned its reputation as a problem-solver.
“If you’re doing a good job, it gets noticed,” says Lingbeck, stating a fact that applies to employees as well as the company itself.