Profile of Team Member - Marife Walker

Posted on Tue. August 14, 2018

Marife WalkerTeam 1 Plastics, a plastic injection molding company for the transportation industry, believes that “Building an exceptional company is the result of building exceptional teams with exceptional people.” Team 1 has been and continues to be a successful company because of exceptional people – its Team Members. Today continues a series of articles profiling Team 1 Plastics’ Team Members. Each month, you’ll be introduced to one of these exceptional Team Members, including Marife Walker.

Name: Marife Walker

Position: Part-time Assembly Assistant

Date of Hire: 08/25/2013

Other Positions Held / Length of Each: This is Marife’s second employment period with Team 1 Plastics. She previously worked at the company for 11-1/2 years (from 1997 to 2008) in several different positions including Packager, Production Assistant, and Team Coach.

Favorite Story / Memory during Time Working at Team 1: Each year, Team 1 Plastics has a summer outing for its Team Members. Marife’s favorite memory is from the time that the event was a trip to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. “The company rented a bus, and all of us were in the bus, and it was really nice.” She said that she enjoyed riding the Sky Ride which moves you from the front of the amusement park to the middle section. What she wouldn’t ride were the rollercoasters, even though her Team Members encouraged her to try them. “I never ride on a rollercoaster. I’m scared of them. That was the first time I’d seen one. We don’t have them in the Philippines, and I saw all of those people screaming, and I told my Team Members, ‘I’ll just watch you guys!’”

How has Team 1 helped your Personal and/or Professional Development? Marife said that Team 1 “helps us to broaden our knowledge in whatever we want in our lives. You don’t have to be stuck in one area. If you want to learn more, you just keep learning more with their help.” She specifically mentioned a basic computers class that Team 1 provided her and several of the Team Members. She said that a professor from Kellogg Community College came to Team 1 and taught an on-site computer class. “That was the best help that Team 1 could give us. It helped us with our knowledge of computers.”

Marife also said that Team 1 has been a huge help to her and her family. “If it was not for this job, I wouldn’t be able to help my family in the Philippines. I have supported them and sent my youngest brother to college – he’s an engineer now – and I was able to send my five nephews to college.”

Favorite Aspect of Working at Team 1: Marife said that she loves everything about Team 1. “I just love to go to work. We’re just like one whole family. It’s the best!” She said that she appreciates the variety of positions that she’s had over the years. “I love everything because I’ve worked in almost every department except Maintenance and in the office because you have to go to school for that.”

What do you want to share about your life outside of Team 1? Marife is married. She and her husband have one adult son who is married and lives in New York. She only works part time at Team 1 Plastics because she also works at Albion College in the food service department. Marife helps beautify the Albion community by planting flowers in its public spaces, and she occasionally goes to the Senior Citizens’ exercise classes because “my husband is old enough to be a senior citizen.”

Piece of Advice and/or Encouragement for Future Team 1 Team Members: Marife said that she is constantly telling people that Team 1 Plastics “is the best place to work!” And, she said that is always trying to recruit employees. “Every time I see somebody who is a good worker, like at Albion College, I tell them, ‘Why not apply at Team 1?’ I am proud of where I work.”

Random Question: What was your favorite toy growing up? Marife said that her family in the Philippines was very poor, and her parents could not afford to buy toys for them. “Life was so hard, but I remember when I was a little girl, I had one doll. I don’t know how big the doll was, but I had that one for a long time. I treasured it until my two other sisters had it. I had to make sure that everybody would enjoy it. I loved her because she had hair and blue eyes.”

Topics: Team 1 Plastics, Team Member Profile, Marife Walker

Meet Team 1 Plastics’ Summer 2018 Interns

Posted on Tue. August 7, 2018

Mitchell HemgesbergSince 2011, Team 1 Plastics, a plastic injection molding company for the transportation industry, has offered summer internships for college students. During the summer of 2018, Team 1 was pleased to have two students from Ferris State University (FSU), Janna Goyola and Mitchell Hemgesberg, working in the Engineering Department under the supervision of Dave Seedorf, Engineering Manager for Team 1 Plastics. Both students are seniors in the Plastics Engineering program at FSU.

For Hemgesberg, a graduate of Chesaning Union High School (in Chesaning, Michigan), this was his second Engineering internship at Team 1 Plastics. He said that he returned to Team 1 because he “enjoyed the atmosphere of the company,” and was looking forward to learning more about the “ins and outs of project engineering.” Hemgesberg, who will be graduating in December, is interested in pursuing either a Plastics Processing position or Project Engineer position. He said that the curriculum at FSU only “minimally covered project engineering” so his time at Team 1 was “very valuable.”

“This year was much different from last year,” said Hemgesberg. “This year, I spent most of my time in the office while last year I was on the production floor almost every single day. It has been valuable to have a second internship at Team 1 because I got to see both sides of the production environment.” Hemgesberg listed some of the tasks which he has accomplished this summer: making Tool Correction Instructions, creating packaging proposals, working on Engineering trials, and creating Excel templates.”

“I learned a lot about what is happening in the background of a tool launch, and how important communicating with customers and toolmakers is to keep the shop running smoothly and on-time. This internship has prepared me for a possible future in Project Engineering.”

To earn a Bachelor’s degree in the Plastics Engineering program at FSU, students are required to have two internships – something which Goyola says she loves about the program. “Internships are a great way to get your feet wet in the field and determine if you like that company or not.”

Janna GoyolaFor Goyola, who graduated from Tinley Park High School (in Tinley Park, Illinois), this summer at Team 1 was her first internship. “When I came to Team 1, my hope was to learn every part of the plastics plant and see what each area is like.” And that was exactly what she experienced. Goyola participated with the Maintenance Department on routine maintenance of the plastics injection molding presses and the molds, helped the Process Engineers with trial runs and problem solving, did part count studies with the Quality Department, worked with metrology, worked in the Warehouse preparing orders for delivery, and in the Assembly department putting parts together.

Interested in a career in food/packaging or medical plastics, Goyola said. “I came to Team 1 with no experience at all in plastics so having the rotational schedule was very nice to get a glimpse of each area. Learning the basics of a plastics company has given me a good introduction into my future career.”

Goyola said that she would “recommend an internship at Team 1, especially for first year interns. The rotational schedule is very beneficial.” She added, “I was surprised at how nice everyone is at Team 1. I was nervous coming in as ‘the intern,’ but they all welcomed me.”

Topics: Team 1 Plastics, Dave Seedorf, internship, Mitch Hemgesberg, Janna Goyola

Team 1 Plastics Announces Changes to Accounting Department

Posted on Tue. July 24, 2018

Suzanne NelsonTeam 1 Plastics, a plastic injection molding company for the transportation industry, announces two changes to its Accounting Department: Suzanne Nelson has joined its Team as Accounting Manager and Susan (Susie) Muma has retired from her position as Controller.

Nelson, who earned her Accounting Degree from Huntington University in Indiana, joined Team 1 Plastics in November 2017. She is a highly skilled, seasoned professional with 30 years of experience in accounting in manufacturing environments. “I am very excited to join Team 1,” Nelson said. “The company is very progressive, innovative, and team oriented.”

Muma was employed at Team 1 for more than 19 years, serving in several capacities in the Accounting Department. Although now retired, Muma continues to serve Team 1 as a member of its Advisory Board and as a consultant.

Team 1 Plastics is thrilled that Nelson has joined its Team and thanks Muma for her many years of dedication and excellence. Muma’s legacy at Team 1 will continue through Nelson who said “I will strive to continue to build on the foundation of the Accounting Program that Susie put in place.”

Nelson can be contacted at or at (517) 629-2178 ext. 229.

Topics: Team 1 Plastics, Susan Muma, Suzanne Nelson, Accounting Department

Profile of Team Member - Robert Clothier

Posted on Tue. July 17, 2018

ClothierTeam 1 Plastics, a plastic injection molding company for the transportation industry, believes that “Building an exceptional company is the result of building exceptional teams with exceptional people.” Team 1 has been and continues to be a successful company because of exceptional people – its Team Members. Today continues a series of articles profiling Team 1 Plastics’ Team Members. Each month, you’ll be introduced to one of these exceptional Team Members, including Robert (Rob) Clothier.

Name: Robert (Rob) Clothier

Position: Human Resources Manager

Date of Hire: 8/12/13

Other Positions Held / Length of Each: Human Resources Assistant - 1 year, 10 months

Favorite Story / Memory during Time Working at Team 1: Rob’s favorite memory is from the summer of 2014 when the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was trending on social media and at Team 1 Plastics. Rob told the story, “Craig (Carrel), Gary (Grigowski), Dave (Sanford), and Mike (Muma) all participated in the challenge. I remember being in the Break Room as the buckets were filled. With the amount of ice that was put into that water, it was probably as close to freezing as it could have been without being solid. They were all good sports about it, and the video turned out awesome. And, Team 1 offered to cover the donation for all team members who were nominated.”

Rob admits that he had been nominated by Mike and says that he intended to participate in the challenge. Unfortunately, or fortunately (depending on your perspective), he put off being in the challenge until it was too late. However, Rob did contribute to Team 1’s Ice Bucket Challenge – he was the one behind the video camera, preserving the memory.

How has Team 1 helped your Personal and/or Professional Development? As a HR (Human Resources) professional, Rob knows that a common complaint of job seekers is “how am I supposed to get experience if I’m not given the opportunity?” Rob said that “Team 1’s focus on what people can bring to the table – more than having a degree or for how long and for which employer they have worked – is one of the things that I value most about Team 1.” Rob was given the opportunity to step into a management role with only a four-year degree and less than two years of HR experience. “Something that,” he said, “just wouldn’t happen at very many companies.”

And, Team 1 continues to support Rob in his professional development, sending him to HR continuing education training several times a year, sponsoring his membership in SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) and its local chapter, SCHRMA (South Central Human Resource Management Association), and supporting his preparation for taking the PHR (Professional in Human Resources) Certification exam.

Favorite Aspect of Working at Team 1: “I think my favorite thing about working at Team 1 is that we have a good group of people that work well together, and I like that I get to work with everybody at the company.” Rob also said that he likes that his days tend to be different from one day to the next.

Working in HR means that sometimes you have to make some unpopular decisions. “Everybody would love to get a raise, free insurance would be great, and a loose attendance policy would be more convenient for everybody – myself included!” said Rob. “We do our best to make the best decisions for our team and the company, but unfortunately that involves making a tough call every now and then.” But, he added, “I think working in such a positive and open environment makes these decisions better received which, of course, makes my job much easier.”

What do you want to share about your life outside of Team 1? Rob is married, and he and his wife live in Jackson. Rob enjoys spending time with his family. He says that he loves to play hockey and golf. He also enjoys playing guitar, reading, hunting, shooting, camping, and the outdoors, in general. And, Rob is training for his first triathlon – a sprint triathlon. He explained that he has been a runner for many years and, about a month ago, purchased his first “real” road bike. Now, Rob said, “I just have to figure how to swim a half a mile. So that’s the real challenge!” Rob’s goal is to be ready for competition by next summer.

Piece of Advice and/or Encouragement for Future Team 1 Team Members: “I think the best advice that I can offer,” Rob said, “is to learn from your mistakes. Every person at Team 1 makes them, but the key is to avoid making the same mistake twice.” After you make a mistake, he says you should think, “Now that I know why that didn’t work, this is how I can do it the next time. And, what did I learn from that situation that I can apply somewhere else and prevent a mistake the first time?” Rob said that “it’s continuous self-development, and it goes hand-in-hand with the old adage ‘work smarter, not harder.’”

Random Question: Which of the Seven Dwarfs is most like you? Rob admitted that he is not well versed on his fairy tales. In fact, he said, his wife stopped watching the TV show, Once Upon a Time, with him (the show is based on fairy tales) because he kept having to ask her such basic questions about the fairy tales that the show was portraying. “So sure, I’ve heard of the seven dwarfs,” Rob said, “but I really know nothing about them. Looking at the list of names of dwarfs, nothing jumped out to me, but if I saw one called ‘Normal,’ I probably would have picked that one.”

Rob turned to the internet for help. After watching some YouTube clips of the seven dwarfs, he said, “I thought Grumpy was the funniest, so that’s what I’m going with.”

Topics: Team 1 Plastics, Team Member Profile, Robert Clothier

Team 1 Plastics’ Recognized by Starr Commonwealth

Posted on Tue. July 10, 2018

Starr Milk Bottles PresentationTeam 1 Plastics, a plastic injection molding company for the transportation industry, was recently inducted into the Arlin E. Ness Circle by Starr Commonwealth “in recognition of all that you do to brighten the lives of Starr Commonwealth children.”

On Friday, June 15, 2018, Starr’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Carey, and Director of Development, Sarah Wasil, presented Team 1 Plastics with eight milk bottles. Wasil explained the significance of the milk bottles. They represent Starr’s history as a dairy farm and include components of its creed and values which continue to guide its future.

Accepting the milk bottles on behalf of Team 1 Plastics were Co-owners, Craig Carrel and Gary Grigowski. Carrel said, “We are proud to be a long-time supporter of Starr Commonwealth. Its history of more than 100 years of supporting children and families fits perfectly with our focus on being a ‘Positive Community Member.’ Both organizations are working hard to make Albion and our surrounding communities a better place to live and work.”

The Arlin E. Ness Circle is a recognition program which, according to Starr’s literature, was created by Starr’s Board of Trustees in 2003 “to provide a small token of thanks to our donors who have contributed significant support to Starr Commonwealth.” The program is named after Starr’s former President, Arlin E. Ness, who served at Starr for 35 years.

Topics: Team 1 Plastics, Positive Community Member, Starr Commonwealth

Department Profile - Production Molding

Posted on Tue. July 3, 2018

ProductionTeam 1 Plastics, a plastic injection molding company for the transportation industry, believes that “Building an exceptional company is the result of building exceptional teams with exceptional people.” Today continues a series of articles profiling Team 1 Plastics’ teams – its Departments. Meet the Production Molding Department.

Name of Department: Production Molding Department

Team 1 Plastics’ Production Molding Department is divided into four teams. Each team works a different 12-hour shift and consists of a Team Lead Captain and three Production Assistants. Each team is supported by a Die Setter and a Process Technician. (Look for the Die Setters and the Process Technicians to be featured in a future article.) The Production Molding Department’s key roles are to produce plastic parts and to package the parts for delivery to the customer.

How does your Department support Team 1’s Customers? Each of the Team Lead Captains echoed the same message, “We support our customers by producing quality parts. We try to deliver them on time and to 100% of the customer’s satisfaction.”

How does your Department support Team 1? There are many ways that the Production Molding Department supports Team 1, including coming to work every day, doing the best job possible, and maintaining a clean and safe working environment. Hesham Yahia, C Team Lead Captain, mentioned that when Team 1 produces quality parts, the customers are likely to want to continue to do business with Team 1, ensuring continued business for the company and employment for Team Members.

Describe a typical work day in your Department. Work days for the Team Lead Captains differ from the Production Assistants because each position has different responsibilities.

The Team Lead Captains arrive fifteen minutes before their shift begins to do a walkthrough with the Lead Captain from the previous shift. Patrick Campbell, B Team Lead Captain, described the start of his typical work day. “A typical work day for me would be going in, doing my walkthrough, making sure everything’s running. and seeing what’s not running. Then I usually check to see the upcoming work – for instance, if there’s a trial for a new part that’s due the next day.”

After the walkthrough, the Team Lead Captain meets with his/her Production Assistants and gives them their work assignments. Team 1’s production floor is divided into three zones. Two of the Production Assistants are assigned to different zones. One of the Production Assistants is assigned to be a Packager.

Tonya Sheldon, A Team Lead Captain, described what happens after a Production Assistant is assigned to one of the three zones. “You sign your name into all of the presses and check the parts. You walk your floor all day long. You’re walking from one end of the building to the next, checking every press as you go. When you get to the end, you turn around and do it again. You’re also printing labels, getting taskets and/or boxes out [to place parts into]. If a job is running that requires manual packing, then you’re constantly walking by that press, packing some parts, going to check some other presses, coming back to that press, and packing some more parts. Then, you go the other direction and check the other presses, come back, and pack some more parts.”

A Production Assistant who is assigned to be the Packager will, according to Starr Step, Production Assistant on A Shift, “… come in and look around and see what the other shift left you. Then you print your report and start packaging.” Hesham said that the Packager may also be assigned to a “partial zone – probably the slowest zone that only contains a drop job.”

As part of their responsibilities throughout their shift, the Team Lead Captains will verify that tool changes have been completed correctly, troubleshoot any issues that arise, and ensure that the Team Members get their breaks and lunches.
Then, toward the end of the shift, everyone gets ready for the next shift. They ensure their areas are clean and that there is enough production packaging ready for the next few hours. The Team Lead Captain does a walkthrough with the incoming Lead Captain, and then the Production floor switches to the next team.

Deborah Browning, D Team Lead Captain, summed up the typical work day, “We come in and go about our business. We do our jobs with no errors. We make it fun. Then, the next shift comes in, and we go home.”

Share an example of a problem/challenge that your Department encountered and how you solved it. Incorrect packaging labels were a problem that was causing inefficiency for Team 1 Plastics. For example, left-hand parts were being packaged in containers with a label that identified them as right-hand parts, and vice versa. Reports produced by ProMon, Team 1’s production monitoring system, were not matching what the label scanners were producing, causing Team Members from the Quality Department to have to manually search for the missing parts.

Solving the issues with incorrect labels became a point of emphasis for the Production Department and was accomplished using several different approaches. The first approach was to change the color of the labels for left-handed parts to green. Previously, all the labels were white. Now, left-handed parts use green labels. Another approach was a greater emphasis on correct labeling during the Orientation training of new Production Assistants.

And, Team 1 changed the way that the parts come out of the presses. Patrick explained, “Previously on our conveyor belts, you’d have a left-handed part and then you’d have a divider, and then you’d have the right-handed part. Now, we have it separated to where the left-hand part comes out one end of the machine while the right hand is coming out on the other side, using a totally different conveyor.”

All of these changes, combined with Team Members who pay attention to detail have made a huge difference. Deborah said about her team, “I have three people who actually pay attention. They look at the manufacturing standards for each part – which is what they’re supposed to do – it’s just a matter of paying attention to what you’re doing.” She added that her shift has gone over five months without a label error. “And considering that we couldn’t make it through a week without having a label issue, that’s really good!”

What is One Noteworthy Accomplishment by your Department in the recent past? Each of the Team Lead Captains mentioned the improvement in the accuracy of packaging labels as a noteworthy accomplishment by the Production Molding Department. Another accomplishment is that the department is experiencing longevity of its Team Members. “All the Production Assistants, Captains, and Process Techs have been with the company for a while,” said Hesham. “They are very experienced people and know how to handle the products.”

What are the Current Goals for your Department? Hesham said that becoming a 5S company is a current goal for the Production Molding Department. According to Wikipedia, “5S is a workplace organization method that uses a list of five Japanese words: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke. These have been translated as "Sort", "Set In Order", "Shine", "Standardize," and "Sustain.” Deborah explained 5S as “having a spot for everything, and everything in its spot.”
Hesham said, “We have been working on this for the last two months. We have been eliminating any unused items. We’ve moved things into new locations to make it easier for people. We’re still moving a few items, but I think we’re about 70% completed.”

What does your Department take pride in? “Teamwork – big-time teamwork!” said Deborah, “They’re really good at helping each other out. If they don’t have something going on in their area, they go over and help somebody else.”

Tonya agreed, “They all work as a team. It’s not just one person getting stuck with all the work. If someone gets behind, everybody helps out. We don’t want anybody to fail. If they see somebody struggling, they lend a hand.”

“And,” Hesham said, “when there’s an issue that faces us, we get together and figure out how can we solve it. But we don’t just try to solve it ourselves, we try to get Quality and the Maintenance Departments involved. We work together with other Departments to make progress with an issue that we’re facing, and we all solve it together. Working together is definitely the number one key.” He then used the analogy that “one hand can’t clap – you need two hands.”

Patrick also mentioned that the Production Molding Department takes pride in “… making sure that everything is packaged right, producing quality parts, and making sure the customer gets them on time. We’re all about customer satisfaction at Team 1.”

Department’s Random Poll: Do You Ever Talk to Yourself?

__1__ Never! - Deb said, “David said, ‘Never,’ but I can verify that’s a lie! I’ve heard him!”

__7__ Sure do – Comments from Team Members included “When I need an expert’s advice!” and “Not all the time, but sometimes!”

__2__Yes and it's embarrassing – A comment from a Team Members included “I don’t care who knows -- I am funny!

__4__ It's the only way I get to speak with someone intelligent

Topics: Team 1 Plastics, Department Profile, Production Molding Department

Team 1 Plastics Featured in National Plastics Industry Magazines

Posted on Tue. June 26, 2018

MagazinesTeam 1 Plastics, a plastic injection molding company for the transportation industry, was recently featured in two national plastics industry magazines, Plastics Business and MoldMaking Technology.

Plastics Business, which issues four magazines per year, featured Team 1’s use of email as a marketing tool in its 2018 Issue 2. The article, entitled Email Marketing for Molders: In-house marketing teams find value in reaching customers through email marketing, compared and contrasted the way that three different plastics companies use email marketing.

“Email marketing is nothing revolutionary in the world of marketing; however, applying it to the world of plastic manufacturing is a somewhat recent development,” wrote Katy Ibsen. “Various plastic processors have introduced the marketing tool in the past few years to inform and educate suppliers, customers and their communities.”

Ibsen wrote about Team 1 Plastics’ three-part strategy for email marketing: have relevant content that speaks to the right client, keep customers updated, and solicit new employees. The article concluded, “Overall, plastic processing companies are finding success in email marketing.”

It was the June 2018 issue of MoldMaking Technology which featured Team 1 Plastics and one of its suppliers, Alliance Specialties and Laser Sales. The article, Determination and Skill Save Critical Micro-Mold Cavity, recounted the problem that Team 1 had with a complex production mold and the solution that Alliance Specialties was able to provide.

Problem: The cavity block for a very small, complex part was damaged by broken ejector blades and proved nearly impossible to repair.

Solution: Alliance Specialties and Laser Sales employed expert laser welding and a combination of ultrasonic and microscopic polishing.

Results: The mold was properly repaired and is back in production as before, saving significant time and money.

Quoted in the article was Team 1’s Engineering Manager, Dave Seedorf, who explained the problem with the mold. “’The tool was producing a part that was in such bad shape that it was not even possible to trim excess material off the part to meet orders. We knew that whatever inventory we had on-hand was it, and that raised the situation to a whole new level of priority.’” Seedorf added that “no one—not even the mold manufacturer who originally built the tool—wanted to attempt to repair the mold.”

Then, Team 1 contacted Alliance Specialties – a company that it had not worked with before. Alliance “. . . offered Seedorf a deal. They told him that if they fixed it and it worked that he should pay them. On the other hand, they told him that if they tried to fix it and it was catastrophic that they would not charge him.”

The article explained the process and expertise that employees at Alliance Specialties applied to successfully repair the mold. Seedorf said, “’Within a couple of weeks and before our required completion date, the repair work was completed and returned.’”

Topics: Team 1 Plastics, Plastics Business, Dave Seedorf, quality supplier, Moldmaking Technology

Profile of Team Member - Harry Martin

Posted on Tue. June 12, 2018

MartinHTeam 1 Plastics, a plastic injection molding company for the transportation industry, believes that “Building an exceptional company is the result of building exceptional teams with exceptional people.” Team 1 has been and continues to be a successful company because of exceptional people – its Team Members. Today continues a series of articles profiling Team 1 Plastics’ Team Members. Each month, you’ll be introduced to one of these exceptional Team Members, including Harry Martin

Name: Harry Martin

Position: Engineering Tech II

Date of Hire: 2/4/2013

Favorite Story / Memory during Time Working at Team 1: Harry’s favorite memory occurred last year when he had an opportunity to spin Team 1’s Prize Wheel. After answering a question correctly, he spun the wheel and won the most coveted prize on the wheel: eight hours of PTO (paid time off)! What did he do with the PTO? Harry said that he spent a day in Maui with his wife. They extended their February 2018 Hawaiian vacation by one day – those eight hours of PTO!

How has Team 1 helped your Personal and/or Professional Development? Harry’s previous employment prepared him for much of the Quality control work that he does for Team 1 Plastics. He worked in the Quality lab at Mac Steel in Jackson, Michigan, using many of the same types of machine that Team 1 has in its Quality lab. “I had used both an optical comparer and a CMM machine before,” Harry said. When Team 1 purchased its new CMM (coordinate measuring machine), the company sent Harry to Hexagon Metrology for a week of PC-DMIS software training. “I had programmed a CMM machine before, but it wasn’t using PC-DMIS software. That’s quite a bit different.”

Favorite Aspect of Working at Team 1: Harry said that his favorite aspect of working at Team 1 is that the company is located in his home town of Albion, Michigan. He and his wife built a house on L Drive early in their marriage, and that’s where they still live. Not only has Harry had a job in Jackson, Michigan, he also worked for a short while in Charlotte, Michigan. He appreciates that his current job is located close to home.

Harry also said that the working environment at Team 1 is quite different from what he experienced in his previous employment. “I like the people, and I have enjoyed seeing how the company is run with a spirit of cooperation from the top down.”

What do you want to share about your life outside of Team 1? Harry and his wife, Dawn, have been married over 42 years. They have two children: a daughter, Sarah and a son, Eric. They also have a son-in-law, Micah, and two grandchildren, Eva and Andrew. Harry and Dawn are active members of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Albion. Harry’s hobby is woodworking. It was this hobby that motivated him to spend two years at The Great Lakes Boat Building School in Cedarville, Michigan. “The first year was traditional boat building -- wooden ships and boats. The second year included some cold-molded stuff and things like engine installation.” Harry is proud that he is a part of the school’s history -- he and his instructor built the first commissioned sailboat that the school had received.

Piece of Advice and/or Encouragement for Future Team 1 Team Members: Harry’s advice is three-fold: (1) work hard, (2) learn as many jobs as you can, and (3) take advantage of the company’s tuition reimbursement program. “All of these experiences will continue to pay you dividends throughout your working career.” Then, he added, “Also enroll in the 401-K program as soon as you are eligible. You will be saving for your retirement, and you won’t even miss the money. This, too, will pay you huge dividends in the future.”

Random Question: What are your Favorite Movies? The Star Wars movies. Asked if he was pumped about the movie, Solo, coming to theaters, Harry replied, “Oh, absolutely!”

Topics: Team 1 Plastics, Team Member Profile, Harry Martin

Dave Sanford Shares Story Behind Winning Photo

Posted on Tue. June 5, 2018

Photo Contest & SanfordDave Sanford, Quality Manager for Team 1 Plastics, a plastic injection molding company for the transportation industry, recently shared the story behind his prize-winning photo, Kalalau Beach. The photo was the grand prize winner in the company’s 2018 Team Members Photo Contest.

“The picture was taken at sunset on October 15, 2016, at Kalalau Beach in Kauai (Hawaii),” said Sanford. “It’s a beach that you’re only able to get to after you hike the Kalalau Trail, which is an 11-mile trail along the Napali Coast in Kauai.”

Part of the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park, the Kalalau Trail was rated in 2008 by as one of the 10 most dangerous hikes in the United States. According to the online magazine, “The trail bed is narrow and crumbly … many people have either fallen off the trail or seen it happen. The footing is twice as treacherous after the island's abundant rainfall turns the track into a greasy slip 'n slide–not amusing when you're edging along a 300-foot cliff that spills straight into a rocky surf.”

This was a hike that Sanford said he had never planned on taking. “I had never planned on doing this hike. It was a place that I hadn’t planned on visiting.” But, he had a friend who had visited the island before. “He convinced me that I really needed to see this beach and do this hike.” So, Sanford and his friend headed for Kauai.

It is a full day’s hike to the beach, and Sanford, who is an avid outdoorsman, said that he was tested on the hike. “I’ve been on other hikes but none this epic and demanding.”

The two friends camped at the beach for two nights, during which Sanford captured the prize winning photo, using just his iPhone.

Sanford said he tries to capture pictures of all the places he visits. He uses the pictures to capture the memories of the trips and, in cases like Kalalau Beach, “to try to convince some of my other friends to go with me on another trip to Kauai.”

It was his fellow Team Members at Team 1 Plastics who convinced Sanford to submit his pictures into the photo contest. “A few people at work had seen these pictures. They wanted me to put them in the contest, so I picked a few and submitted them. It was just by chance that they happened to get selected as first and second place.”

Sanford is a two-time winner. Not only did he win first and second place in the 2018 contest – the second-place picture was also from his Kauai trip – his photo, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, was the first place winner in the 2016 contest.

Reflecting on the win, he said, “Winning first and second place was surprising because there were a lot great pictures submitted. I didn’t plan to submit any pictures in either one of the contests. I guess I’m just fortunate enough to be able to visit some really unique places [like Kalalau Beach] and capture them for others to see.”

Thinking about his hike to Kalalau Beach, “It was well worth it. I’d go back anytime. It was by far one of the coolest trips that I’ve ever done.”

Topics: Team 1 Plastics, Dave Sanford, Photo Contest

Sawyer™, a Cobot, Part of Team at Team 1 Plastics

Posted on Tue. May 29, 2018

CobotTeam 1 Plastics, a plastic injection molding company for the transportation industry, is focused on continuous improvement in every aspect of its business, including efficiency, quality of produced parts, and quality of life for its Team Members. It was this focus that caused the company to purchase Sawyer™, the company’s first collaborative robot (commonly known as a “cobot”) in December 2017.

Developed in 2015 by Rethink Robotics, Sawyer™ is, according to the company’s website, “… the revolutionary collaborative robot designed to execute tasks that have been impractical to automate with traditional industrial robots.” 

Cobots are different from traditional robots. They are “…smaller and have more sensors, which help them react faster and with more intelligence when approaching another object or a human so as not to apply too much force and stop operating when appropriate,” according to April Glaser in an article for In essence, they work alongside and with humans.

In injection molding plants, like Team 1 Plastics, cobots can be utilized for many different applications such as opening and closing machine doors, inserting and/or removing parts, or cleaning parts.

It’s been six months since Sawyer™ joined the team at Team 1 Plastics, and it’s time for an evaluation. Chris Seidel, Process Engineer II, and Dave Sanford, Quality Manager, shared their observations about Sawyer™ -- what the cobot has been doing, what difference it makes, and how it has been accepted by Team Members.

“Sawyer™ has been packaging finished production parts, removing them from a conveyor and placing them into finished packaging,” Seidel said. The cobot sorts left-hand and right-hand parts into separate containers -- a very repetitive task that previously had to be done manually by Production Assistants (PAs). “The accuracy with which the cobot places parts into the finishing packaging is surprising!”

“Previously, PAs would hand pack parts that had traveled down a conveyor and fallen into a retaining bin. Sometimes the PAs dropped parts and would have to retrieve them, reducing efficiency, sometimes the parts would fall on each other, leading to a defect, and sometimes right-hand parts would be put into the left-hand packaging. With Sawyer™, parts cannot be dropped and are packed directly into finished packaging. The PA is responsible for changing out the finished packaging on a routine basis, about every 12 to 20 minutes.”

If Sawyer™ does the work for the PAs, isn’t the cobot eliminating jobs? Seidel emphatically said, “No!” although he did admit that this was an initial concern by Team Members. “The Sawyer™ robot allows PAs to concentrate on other aspects of their daily job while ensuring quality of the parts packaged.” And, Sawyer™ makes the PAs’ job less stressful, safer, and improves the work environment. Seidel explained, “It removes the repetitive motion of packing the same part over and over, and the stress of rushing to package parts is eliminated. In the hot summer months, this will prevent overheating and keep the PAs more comfortable.”

Mariane Davids agrees with Seidel. In her blog, Why Humans Should Stop Worrying About Robots Taking Their Jobs, she wrote, “Collaborative robots don’t take jobs, they assist in performing them. For example, if your job typically has you doing something repeatedly with a high margin for an error and a potential for injury in the long-term, a robot could do it for you.”

Davids continued, “Today’s robots are incredible in their ability to repeat a task ad nauseam, but they can only do simple things. When combined with humans, they become more productive and valuable members of the team.”

And, Sawyer™ is considered to be a “valuable member of the team” by the PAs. They have affirmed to Seidel and Sanford that with “Sawyer™ packaging parts, it has allowed them time to concentrate on other jobs in their zone.”

Sawyer™ is also making a difference in production costs and efficiency, helping to keep Team 1 competitive in the global market. Sanford said, “Sawyer™ has reduced parts’ handling cost and time by 67%.” He added that before Sawyer™ joined Team 1, when PAs were short-handed on a shift, the plant often had to shut down jobs that required a high level of labor. Now Sawyer™ is doing these jobs, so that even if a shift is short-handed, the jobs can remain running.

The results of the evaluation are complete. Sawyer™ has improved efficiency, quality of parts, and quality of life for the Team Members. The future of Sawyer™ and other cobots at Team 1 Plastics is bright. Seidel said that the company is looking at additional packing jobs for Sawyer™ and exploring other tasks for the cobot. And, the company is expecting to purchase another cobot in 2019.

Topics: Team 1 Plastics, Dave Sanford, continuous improvement, Chris Seidel, cobot