The history of Plastic Products goes back to the “adolescent” period of injection molding technology. Founder Willard “Smitty” Smith was a tool maker at Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M) in St Paul when he decided to venture out and form his own tool and die shop in Lindstrom, MN in 1957. He named it Smith Metal Products. To better serve his key customer, 3M, an injection molding press along with contract assembly of molded parts was added in 1962, thus giving birth to Plastic Products Company, Inc. (PPC). Several new customers and presses were added into the following decade.
Smitty died suddenly in 1975, and the company’s future was in peril. His wife, Marlene, then a bookkeeper at PPC, was tasked with taking over the struggling business. While apprehensive about taking on such a big responsibility, Marlene’s grit and determination helped her to successfully lead and grow the company to be the industry leader that it is today. A mere two years after she took over, the company moved into a much larger facility in Lindstrom to expand its production and distribution areas. All equipment was moved from the original site to the new location, which today continues to operate and house the corporate offices.
Growing Our Business:
Business continued to flourish and in 1980, Plastic Products opened its second manufacturing facility in Princeton, MN. This plant was established to support growing customer sales and expand manufacturing capabilities, as the Lindstrom site was reaching capacity.
PPC has always been responsive to its customers’ needs. A large appliance customer announced in 1986 that it would be moving to Kentucky. To better serve this customer, Plastic Products opened its third facility in Lebanon, KY. This location continues to serve the appliance market, as well as automotive and consumer products markets. Ten years later a second Kentucky facility was launched in Greenville to fulfill the need for even greater capacity in the region.
Who We Are Today:
From 1997 through 2001, PPC opened plants in Greenfield, TN, Moline, IL, and West Branch, IA to meet expanding customer requirements. It also reestablished Smith Metal Products in 1997, now a custom metal and ceramic injection molding operation in the original building Smitty purchased in 1957. Since that time, Smith Metals has moved to a brand new 60,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility in the neighboring town of Center City.
Toward the end of 2013, it was becoming apparent that PPC’s southern plant capacity would be reaching its limit and the company began searching for a location for its ninth facility. An available building in Seneca, SC was discovered. The company entered into a lease arrangement with the building’s owner, undertook extensive renovations and began production in mid-2014. This facility is strategically and conveniently located to service a large customer in the area.
During the late 80’s, the company saw an opportunity to provide a lucrative retirement planning vehicle for its employees and 30 percent of the company stock was sold into an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). This not only helped to facilitate employee pride in the company, but also enhanced employee involvement in production of high quality parts and servicing customers.
After faithfully leading the company for nearly 40 years, building it into a multimillion dollar, multi-site, success, Marlene decided it was time to retire and sell her shares of the company stock. Her concern for the employees’ well-being prompted the decision to sell to the PPC ESOP rather than an outside party. Today we are 100% employee owned and Marlene and Smitty’s customer focused mentality remains steadfast.