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The power of curiosity

The engine behind one manufacturer’s success

Larry Floyd started Plastic Molded Concepts (PMC) in 1975 from his basement, like so many inventors and entrepreneurs. His love for the plastics industry started in 1962. As a music student at Wichita State University, he decided to exchange his trumpet for an injection-molding machine and went to work for a local plastics company. He never left the industry.

I have known Larry for almost ten years and have always been impressed with the range of his industry knowledge. As a banker, I’ve also been pleased to see how this has translated into top-line revenue growth and bottom-line profitability. He is a man ahead of his time, particularly with how he embraces technology in all areas of the business, from increasing efficiencies and capabilities to attracting and retaining employees. From his basement to an 88,000 square-foot facility in Eagle, Wisconsin today, Larry’s unrelenting curiosity and leadership style is the catalyst for the company’s growth and success. I thought other aspiring entrepreneurs could gain insights from the remarkable nature and habits of Larry Floyd.

Master your trade

Know your business from the inside, outside and what is to come – that’s the approach Larry took when he started in plastics. After becoming skilled at his first task on the injection-molding machine, he asked to be “fired” from that job and start a new one. That’s how he moved from machine operator to custom molder to stamper to materials handler, to engineer and beyond. Mastering the plastics trade is how Larry created his competitive advantage. PMC sources 40 percent of its business from companies that originally worked with a different molder who failed to produce a product that worked. That reputation to solve problems that others could not is their secret sauce.

Think beyond the known

The future of plastics is in technology, and Larry is continuously inventing new methods through robotics and a higher skill level of work to create efficiencies and relevance for his customers and employees. Constant reading and listening to podcasts, experimenting and questioning keeps Larry on top of his business inside and out.

Verify quality

Because PMC provides mission-critical parts to the aerospace, defense, medical, filtration, food and beverage industries, quality assurance standards, inspections and traceability have been built into all processes. Ongoing education and certification for his master molders is one way Larry makes sure stringent quality practices drive the company. Testing his employees on the spot to make sure proper procedures are in place is another method. On a formal basis, Larry utilizes a wage increase system directly related to learning, testing and certification.

Hire curious minds

Larry takes on “crazy jobs that no one else will do” and is proud of it. He is a problem solver with a mind that rarely rests. He tries to hire like-minded individuals who enjoy collaborating and solving problems. During the interview process, he queries a candidate about their interests. If they like to read novels written by Tom Clancy, that could be a sign of a curious, active mind; if they like to read sports statistics, creativity is not as likely. Once on board, Larry feeds employees with information about emerging issues in the plastics industry and business world overall. He plants these seeds on a regular basis; by questioning them later, he discovers if the seeds are growing roots – a sure sign of a curious employee who will grow with the company.

With a deep foundational knowledge of plastics, an openness to mold just about anything and a team with a similar outlook, Larry is keeping his foot on the gas pedal. With over 30,000 polymers on the market, there is a great deal of road yet to travel.

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