Embracing “Quick Response” benefits Nicolet Plastics

Bob MacIntosh witnessed firsthand that challenges can lead to better results.

MacIntosh, president and CEO of Nicolet Plastics Inc. in Mountain, said the company, which specializes in high-precision robotic tooling and molding, was doing well until 2008, when sales suddenly slumped in the wake of the Great Recession.

“Our growth from 1986 to 2008 was all unplanned. There was no strategic planning and we went with the flow,” he said. “The challenges we saw that year – we had to roll back our workforce by 22 percent – really gave us an opportunity to look at what we needed to do if we wanted to survive.”

Nicolet Plastics leaders discovered the Quick Response Manufacturing philosophy and quickly embraced its tenets of reducing internal and external lead times.

“That began the process of separating us from the competition. We decided to focus on low to moderate volume, and that’s hard to duplicate. You can’t send a job like that overseas – it’s not financially practical,” MacIntosh said. “By becoming more strategic in what we were doing, we became more successful.”

Nicolet projected $12 million in sales for 2014, up from $5.9 million in 2009. As business increased, MacIntosh added back workers and today the company has 77 employees.

“We have a broad range of customers. Most are based in Wisconsin, but since they do business all over the world, we export parts to Mexico, Germany, Ireland and elsewhere – all from little Mountain, Wisconsin,” he said.

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