Focusing on People

In addition to numerous employees with two and three decades of experience, Iowa blow molder is building out its future staff via apprenticeships and area-school outreach.

“The future of the company is people,” says Mick Stielow, director of sales and marketing for custom industrial blow molder Agri-Industrial Plastics Co. (AIP) in Fairfield, Iowa. A profile of the firm in our May issue notes its pride in the knowledge and experience of its personnel, many of whom have 25 to 30 years in blow molding and “grew up in the business,” as Stielow puts it.

He adds that the company has an eye out for the next generation of blow molding specialists. Its in-house apprenticeship program grooms two to five new technicians at a time. “Many of our best setup technicians also own or work on family farms, so they they have the mechanical skill set to be successful at AIP,” Stielow notes. His firm also pursues outreach to a high-school career academy in the town, which has a focus on maintenance skills, and to a local community college, where robot technician is a popular curriculum.

AIP is also big on employee wellness. It has been a Blue Zones worksite since 2013. The Blue Zones Project promotes wellness and healthy living. At AIP this means educating employees on healthy lifestyle goals, paying 100% of employees’ premiums for the family health-insurance plan if they participate in the wellness program, and even providing healthful food in the plant’s vending machines.

(Bill Shipley, AIP setup technician, was the company’s first hire in 1978 and is still on busy keeping machines running.)

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