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From less-than-humble beginnings, the company has grown to become a global producer of injection molded parts.

Clare Goldsberry

October 21, 2016

2 Min Read
Wisconsin injection molder Nicolet Plastics celebrates 30 years in business

When four men set out to start a plastics manufacturing business in the north woods of Oconto County in Wisconsin, they didn’t even have enough money to purchase an injection press. Each man chipped in $300 and they managed to scrape together enough to lease a press, and with that Nicolet was born in 1986. With minimal knowledge of the industry, Phil Hartman, his son Flip, Bob MacIntosh and Miles Cerny worked collaboratively to grow the business. Today, Nicolet Plastics (Mountain, WI) is a global producer of plastic injection molded parts with more than 41,000 square feet of manufacturing space.

Now a globally competitive producer of complex industrial and medical components and assemblies, Nicolet Plastics has grown by incorporating the latest technologies such as automated processes and customized services, and developing talent. Some of the technology the company has implemented helps to amplify the use of labor through automation, so an employee doesn’t have to stand by a press all day, as well as developing a mobile automation cell that can be moved from press to press as the job requires, explained Bob MacIntosh, President of Nicolet Plastics. Currently Nicolet operates 19 presses ranging in size from 45 to 610 tons.

“Our team has worked hard to continually integrate the latest technologies, innovative processes and automation that create cost and time efficiencies for the customers we serve. We not only take our role within the plastics manufacturing industry very seriously, but also the stewardship and resources we provide for the community members who depend on us,” said MacIntosh.

The company focuses on developing talent through its Skills Matrix program. “We do not have ‘positions’ at Nicolet,” said MacIntosh. “We develop skill sets through our Skills Matrix program, in which employees get points for learning various skill sets through cross-training. The more points an employee earns, the more pay they receive.”

As the current Nicolet Plastics’ leadership team reflects on the company’s growth and development over the past 30 years, they now take on the critical role of meeting the ever-changing demands of customers for broadened quick-response manufacturing processes, additive manufacturing, design, development and production efficiencies.

When asked what he believes is the biggest challenge in meeting customer demand in today’s manufacturing climate, MacIntosh told PlasticsToday that it’s the “Amazon effect” of “being able to get what I want in the size and color and quantity I want and to have it this afternoon. That level of demand is something the consumer has become enthralled with and it’s spilling over into B2B. Manufacturers have historically tried to match inventory with demand in an attempt to get the right level of inventory, but it’s tough for manufacturers. With our ‘quick response’ program, we can help minimize inventory that helps manufacturers reduce costs,” said MacIntosh.         

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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