Professional Plastics, Inc. is a family-owned and privately-held business specializing in the distribution and fabrication of engineering plastic shapes (sheets, rods, tubing, films). Established in California in 1984, the company operates 19 full-service distribution and fabrication facilities in the USA, Singapore and Taiwan. The company currently employs more than 330 people and has annual revenue exceeding $ 130 million dollars.
Starting a family-business is one thing, keeping a family-business together for more than 30 years is quite another. When founders; Larry, David and Mike Kietzke launched a small plastics distribution company in 1984, they never imagined that more than thirty years later the company would still be thriving, and their family ties would continue to grow along with the business.
Professional Plastics was established in October 1984 with two initial California locations; Anaheim and Santa Clara. The Anaheim location served as the companies' headquarters, and was managed by Larry Kietzke, and his eldest son David. The Santa Clara location was managed and operated by younger-brother Mike, who was soon joined by Bill Widby and Delia Smith who remained with the company for the next 30 years.
Larry had started in the plastics industry in 1962, and his 20 plus years of experience was crucial to establishing the initial systems and processes that would guide the company in the years ahead. Larry and his wife Patricia were blessed with six children, all of whom have played various roles in the company over the years. His eldest sons, David and Mike shared in the management responsibilities while focusing on building the companies' sales revenue. The hard-working brothers quickly secured key accounts in the aerospace and semiconductor industries. Despite the Kietzke's experience and market knowledge, they found it difficult to establish operating lines of credit with traditional lenders. Therefore, each of the founders invested $ 15,000 from their personal savings accounts, and used credit cards to finance the business over the first few months. Their financial gamble paid off, and after establishing some early success, the company eventually secured it's first operating line of credit.
In the early years, it was all hands on deck for the Kietzke family. As a father of six, Larry had a home-grown workforce who were more than eager to help. Larry's wife Patricia ran the companies' computer system despite being completely blind. Never deterred by her blindness, Patricia purchased an optical scanner that allowed her to visualize the computer monitor using a small device that resembled a fingertip heart rate monitor. Larry and Patricia took computer classes in the evenings, then purchased a computer and UNIX software package adequate to run a small business. The couples' other children also contributed. Their 20 year old daughter Lori handled the bookkeeping, while 16 year-old son Chris handled shipping and receiving after school. Their son-in-law Rich, handled the fabrication, and a few years later, youngest son Richard joined the team. Their daughter Pamela also joined the company for a period of time, working in the accounting department. In total, all six of Larry's children were involved in the business at one time or another.
From 1984 to 1986, the company grew quickly enough to add a third location in Phoenix, Arizona. As the first location run by a non-family member, there were some challenges along the way. Despite those challenges, the company experienced steady growth over the next several years. By 1992, Chris had completed college and joined Mike in San Jose. At this time, the company began to sharpen its' focus on high-performance materials such as: Vespel® PEEK, and Kynar® used in the semiconductor industry. In 1993 youngest brother, Richard joined Mike and Chris in San Jose, eventually becoming the companies' highest performing inside salesperson for a period of time. The success of their efforts, and rapid growth in the semiconductor industry helped fund further expansion of the company. From 1992 through 2000, the companies' revenue grew drastically and the company added locations in more than a dozens markets nationwide. Revenue climbed from $ 7.3 million in 1992 to more than $ 53 million in 2001. While Larry, David and Mike continued to manage the companies most profitable locations, Chris worked to expand the companies' footprint. After establishing locations in the Texas cities of Austin, Houston and Dallas, Chris eventually returned to California and joined the companies' ownership group in 2001. Between 1996 and 2003, the company also added key executives such as Scott Patten (COO), Keith Sremaniak (CFO), and Mark Casey (Vice President of Sales). Mr. Patten was instrumental in the companies' expansion into the Northwest USA (Washington, Oregon, Montana), and Mr. Casey was instrumental to the companies' expansion to the Eastern USA (New York, Cleveland & Atlanta). By 2002, Chris Kietzke had turned his focus to international markets eventually opening locations in Singapore (2007) and Taiwan (2013).
During the first 17 years of the companies' history, Professional Plastics had never experienced a business downturn significant enough to warrant the layoff of any employees, or the closure of any locations. This changed however in late 2001, after the stock market crash and post September 11 market conditions hit the company especially hard. After years of continuous growth, the company had expanded into some less desirable markets, and was operating several underperforming locations. When the U.S. economy fell into recession, the company was forced to close locations in Albuquerque, El Paso, and Juarez, Mexico. The company also sold-off it's Packaging Films Division (PFC), and downsized its' staff in some locations to adjust to weaker market demand. Despite the pain of those moves, they succeeded in helping the company whether the financial storm, and by 2004, the company was back on a growth trajectory.
The Rise of E-Commerce
Prior to 1997, few industrial suppliers had an internet presence. Those who had developed a website, usually dedicated very little time or financial resources towards it's development. In all, just over 1.1 million websites existed at the time, verses the more than 1 billion that exist today. Professional Plastics recognized early that this emerging technology had the capability to revolutionize it's business. In early 1997, the company launched www.professionalplastics.com , a year before Google was launched. The initial site was rudimentary, as were the other sites at the time, but nonetheless the company embarked on a long-term plan to become the leader in it's market segment. In the following years, the company invested heavily into developing the most comprehensive, e-commerce website in the plastic shapes industry. The company developed proprietary price calculation tools, and the website became an instrumental part of the companies global expansion, and strong domestic rebound in the mid-2000's.
In 2007, Professional Plastics began diversifying it's business, and embarked on a plan to greatly expand it's value-added fabrication capabilities. Those efforts led to the purchase of more than 20 cnc panel saws, 5 cnc routers, slitting & sheeting equipment, centerless grinders, vacuum-forming equipment, injection-molding equipment, and 2 cnc laser cutters used for the production of fabricated parts. In 2012, Professional Plastics also acquired Planet Plastics (Chino, CA), a plastics fabrication company, and it's sister company Paragon Plastics (Santa Ana, CA) a retail plastics supplier.
Professional Plastics Today
Professional Plastics and it's subsidiaries now employ more than 330 people in 19 locations worldwide, and have a combined annual turnover exceeding $ 130 million dollars. The company has established distribution ties with industry leaders such as Quadrant EPP, Evonik-Cyro, Rochling, Norplex-Micarta, Saint Gobain, Simona, Sheffield Plastics, Vycom, and Corning Macor. The company is currently the sixth largest supplier of engineering plastic shapes in North America while remaining 100% family-owned, and operated. Upon Larry Kietzke's retirement in 2006, David Kietzke assumed the title of CEO, and Mike Kietzke assumed the role of Executive Vice President. Chris Kietzke is the VP of Marketing and runs the companies' Asia Businesses. David's sons Brent and Jeremy joined the company, as did Mike's son Daniel. Each of the fathers have been able to forge a special bond with their sons, by sharing their experiences and knowledge in both life and business. The company has been fortunate enough to have many dedicated long-term employees, including more than a dozen with 20+ years with the company. Special recognition goes to our dedicated staff for their incredible contributions over the years.