In Praise of “Job Shops”
The term “job shop” can oversimplify the unique skill set flexible processors offer their customers.
“I hate that term—job shop,” admits Craig Porter, president of custom injection molding PlastiCert, Lewiston, Minn. I spoke with Porter over the course of an interview for an upcoming feature in our January issue highlighting Plastics Technology’s inaugural World-Class Processor survey. PlastiCert made the cut, finishing in the top 20% of entrants based on 11 different metrics, and Porter credits the company’s “job-shop” mentality as a key reason.
“We do production runs,” Porter says. “We do a lot of them.” How many? Porter figures they had around 775 work orders in 2014 with an average quantity build of only 3000 pieces. “We’ve done some much smaller than that even,” Porter recalls. Of the roughly 50 different customers his company served in 2014, Porter says only two provided him a forecast to help predict their demand. Everyone else?
“The rest all just call up when they need some parts and say, ‘Hey, how soon can I get them?’” Porter says. That means mold changes—lots of them—and a very specialized skill set. “Well we think [being a job shop] is an expertise,” Porter says. “We look it at as a selling point. We are set-up pros—we are experts at taking molds in and out and getting jobs up and going and making parts.”
Porter says customers appreciate that agility, whether they think of PlastiCert as a job shop or not. “We’re able to jockey things around and work with due dates, and get things in,” Porter says. “If we have a customer that calls up and says, ‘Hey I need parts now.’ We can probably figure out how to accommodate them.”