SAFETY IS AS SAFETY DOES: Robert Lebeaux, right, founder, president and CEO of The Plastics Group of America, has made employee safety a cornerstone of the company’s approach to business. With him are plant manager Brian Curley, left, and Leo De Lorme, assistant plant manager.
PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
By Michael J. DeCicco
The Plastics Group of America takes very seriously the famous scene in the film “The Graduate” in which a man tells Benjamin Braddock, a recent college grad, that the future of business success lies in “plastics!”
The company has followed that advice in a dramatic way. Forty-one years after starting as a one-man operation, The Plastics Group has become an award-winning plastics-manufacturing company serving all aspects of the industry.
Among the normal concerns in a business, such as profitability, customer service, investment and so on, The Plastics Group has placed a strong emphasis on safety in the workplace. The company has won the OSHA Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Award 17 years in a row, said Greg Czarnow, the company’s marketing coordinator.
“So we have a track record in that area,” Czarnow added. “We’ve always been committed to training our employees in workplace safety. When new machinery comes in, we make sure our employees become familiar with what to wear on the job and how to approach the equipment safely.”
“Ever since I founded this company over 40 years ago,” said Robert Lebeaux, president and CEO, “employee safety has been at the forefront of our internal focus here at Plastics Group of America. Our ongoing training programs and performance reviews ensure that the highest level of employee safety is achieved and maintained everywhere in our facilities. We are proud of the safe working environment we have created and the corresponding safety record that we have been able to achieve here through this commitment to employee safety.”
The Plastics Group supplies plastic compounds, polymers and resin pellets to the manufacturers of end products ranging from lawn mower shields to automobiles and furniture.
The company opened in 1973 as Ralco Industries Inc., a one-man company that bought and sold scrap resin materials. Lebeaux’s business partner, Michael Rosenthal, joined the company in 1979.
Since then, the company has racked up annual sales and revenue well into the multimillion dollar range.
Its manufacturing facility, warehouse and corporate offices are in Woonsocket, with distribution points across the country. It supplies products and services throughout the continental United States and internationally. Its services include brokering and selling plastic materials and custom compounding and manufacturing thermoplastic resins to meet the needs of molding, extrusion and blow-molding processors.
“We provide the raw materials for end-user products,” Czarnow explained. “We add different components depending on what the end product needs to do. With glass or talc, the quality of the resin is then more flexible or stronger. The right compound also addresses heat sensitivity, when high heat won’t melt the end product.”