Category Archives: News

Employee Spotlight: Diane Fogle, Customer Service

DeKALB Molded Plastics is a partner that you can trust, working with you every step of the process, because we are committed to your solutions. All of this is made possible due to the talented individuals that make up DeKALB. Our Employee Spotlight series was developed as a way to introduce you to the impressive people that work here.

What is your name and title? How long have you worked with DeKALB?

Diane Fogle, Customer Service. I have been with DeKALB for 16 years!

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Ohio.

How would you describe your current role?

It is ever-changing.  There are new challenges presented every day with opportunities to assist customers.

What does your typical day look like?

It is a mixture of fielding customer orders, scheduling, inventory control, production reporting, phone calls, emails, etc.

What drove you to apply for this position at DeKALB?

I was in an outside sales position and DeKALB was one of my clients. I had a working relationship with an Engineer at the time, and DeKALB had an issue with a paint process, and Chris knowing my background reached out for assistance.  Chris knew at the time I was wanting to change jobs because of all the traveling I was doing. DeKALB was looking for a paint supervisor at the time, I applied, and the rest is history.

What has been your favorite part of working at DeKALB?

Rick Walters - his sense of family and giving back to the community.

What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on at DeKALB?

5s—Finding a home for everything, and everything put away

What do you have a knack for?

Organizing and cleaning - fantastic stress relievers!

What’s the one problem you are best at solving for your clients?

Urgent production runs - that is not just me solving the issue, it is the DeKALB Molded Plastics team pulling together to make things happen in a short period of time.

What do your ideal clients say about you?

Professional, Knowledgeable, Friendly Accommodating

What are you most passionate about professionally?

Communication with our customers

Where can we find you when you’re not working?

With family and friends, poolside or on the golf course

What’s your favorite way to spend a weekend or a Sunday afternoon?

Attending live music concerts, golf course, poolside in the summer—I hibernate in the winter.

What would be impossible for you to give up?

My close ties with family and friends

Anything else you’d like to tell people about yourself?

For the people that know me well, they know that Zoe, my 16-year-old Yorkie, is my world

What is your dream job?

This would have to be something with cleaning or retirement

What are some of your hobbies?

Golf, concerts

Do you have any pets?

Yes, a 16-year-old Yorkie.

What’s your favorite movie?

Sweet Home Alabama

What are you most passionate about? 

Family

If you could learn how to do anything, what would it be?

A second language

What is your favorite meal?

Chicken and mashed potatoes

What would be your dream vacation, and why?

Somewhere definitely sunny and warm with a beach and golf course.  Very relaxing

What is your favorite color?

Purple

Want to join the successful team at DeKALB? Visit our Careers page to learn more.

Creating a Safe Work Environment

What does a true commitment to safety look like? At DeKALB Molded Plastics, safety is our number one priority, and we are dedicated to creating a safe work environment. From our employees to our guests, we want to guarantee that everyone who steps foot into our facility will leave in the same condition they came in. Our safety policy highlights much of this promise, but truly being dedicated to safety means remaining flexible, making adjustments to our policy as things change.

DeKALB’s Response to COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many workplaces to alter their safety policies, DeKALB has made it our goal to quickly adapt, utilizing the latest CDC guidelines and recommendations, ensuring that we continue to keep our facility as safe as possible. Safety is the responsibility of everyone, and during this unprecedented time, it takes an increased focus to continue to maintain a safe work environment.

Some of the ways DeKALB is staying safe during COVID-19 include:

  • Additional cleaning of common areas, tools and workspace.
  • Face coverings worn at all times when working with other employees. Additionally, new employees are required to wear a mask at all times for their first 14 days.
  • All non-critical business meetings have been canceled or moved to a teleconference. The in-person meetings that do occur will limit the people involved, maintaining safe social distancing practices.
  • Hand sanitizer stations placed in various areas for use between washing hands, at start/end of the shift, and before/after breaks.
  • Limited the visitors in the building and those that do visit must complete and pass a health screening before being allowed to enter.
  • Maintaining social distancing of at least six feet. Throughout our facility, there are visual indicators to highlight proper distance for clocking in and in meetings.

Regardless of the number of safety guidelines and practices that are in place to maintain safety, we believe in constantly working together to promote safe practices throughout the workday.

Continuous Improvement - The DeKALB Way

One differentiating safety measure that DeKALB takes is through our card system. There are two types of cards in our system, green cards and blue cards. Both of these represent coaching, training, or acknowledgment opportunities. The blue cards are given out from peer-to-peer, and typically this is used to thank a team member for doing the right thing, helping a co-worker who may be struggling, or to provide training for a process. The peer review helps us to call out any potential unsafe practices or highlight a job well done. The green cards come from a member of our leadership team and are given to employees to recognize them for their contributions or to explain the importance of a particular job and how the process could be improved.

Nearly everyone has experienced the feeling of their stomach dropping and heart rate steadily rising as their manager is coming straight towards them. This scene typically means that you are in trouble, or you did something incorrectly. At DeKALB, we wanted to create a team-friendly, positive work environment that provides unique opportunities for anyone to take the time to appreciate the dedication and abilities an employee brings to our organization. These cards are effective because they can be a great motivating factor, and they not only help to improve our culture, but they offer the chance for us to coach our employees.

This system helps us continue to deliver the results that our customers expect and supports our on-going commitment to continuous improvement. The cards create an accountability system for all of our employees to do the right thing, keeping everyone safe, and knowledge-sharing opportunities, which help to cultivate a fun energy in the workplace. The goal of these cards is to have four positive interactions for every one negative. DeKALB employees did a great job and finished 2019 with a 3.5-to-1 ratio.

A Full Toolbox of Safety

DeKALB also holds weekly meetings that we call our ‘Safety Toolbox Talk’. These meetings provide the opportunity for supervisors to go over a different topic and refresh everyone on how to stay safe.

Topics that we discuss at these meetings include:

  • Driving a forklift safely
  • How to use a cut glove
  • Proper lifting technique
  • When to use a heat glove

These meetings are typically short and are meant to go over the basics, but have been effective with our staff, as they serve as friendly reminders for safety. The other benefit of these meetings is the opportunity to quickly address any updates or adjustments to safety policies, or how we can improve, pointing to examples that may have been brought up through our card system.

Why Safety is at the Forefront

With our safety policies in place, our card system and our flexibility to adjust to a pandemic, there is a clear expectation at DeKALB - we care about the safety of each of our employees. We want to always make it understood that safety is not an individual responsibility, but it is the duty of every employee at DeKALB Molded Plastics. Our policy reminds our team to observe all safety rules, follow safe work practices, and immediately report injuries or unsafe conditions. When we all join in together, a safer environment is created, which results in a happier and more productive staff. A dedication to safety really is a win-win for everyone.

Employee Spotlight: Jessica Roby, Intern

DeKALB Molded Plastics is a partner that you can trust, working with you every step of the process, because we are committed to your solutions. All of this is made possible due to the talented individuals that make up DeKALB. Our Employee Spotlight series was developed as a way to introduce you to the impressive people that work here.

Where are you from?

I am from Butler, IN.

What drove you to apply for this position at DeKALB? 

I met Marcia, DeKALB's HR manager, at a job fair. She was well represented, spoke highly of DeKALB and showed a lot of enthusiasm for me to be a part of the team.

What has been your favorite part of working at DeKALB?

My favorite part about working at DeKALB is the friendly nature of the employees. Everyone here is nice and welcoming.

What are your plans after high school? 

I will be attending Indiana Tech after high school.

Do you have any advice to give to underclassman?

Even though you are trying to keep your grades up and have a great future, have fun with it. You only get one high school career, make the most of it.

What is your dream job?

My dream job would either be a medical manager or HR manager. Both of these are what I am going to school for.

What are some of your hobbies? 

My biggest hobbies are cheering and creating new things.

Do you have any pets?

I have two dogs, one is a 5-month-old puppy, Gunner, and my other dog, Zakari, is a German Shepard.

What’s your favorite movie?

My favorite movie is "The Last Song"!

What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about making a difference. I want to make the most out of everything and make a difference in the lives of myself and others.

If you could learn how to do anything, what would it be?

I would love to learn how to understand people who don’t like to show the emotional state of being and how to help people communicate. Both of these would help me with my future career.

What is your favorite meal?

My favorite meal is steak with mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and rolls.

What would be your dream vacation, and why?

My dream vacation would be visiting Hawaii because you’re surrounded by the ocean. The ocean is extremely beautiful; I could only imagine being surrounded by water on all four sides.

Want to join the successful team at DeKALB? Visit our Careers page to learn more.

Dedicated to Continuous Improvement, Dedicated to Quality

With over 40 years of experience in structural foam molding, DeKALB Molded Plastics is proud of the world-class quality reputation we have built. At DeKALB, our mission is to provide unsurpassed customer satisfaction with the products and services that we provide. To achieve this, we have placed a heavy emphasis on continuous improvement, taking a comprehensive look at every detail of our process, understanding there are always ways to advance our capabilities. Our team has established clearly defined standards that help control all process variables, ensuring that every product that leaves our facility meets our standards before they exceed yours.

Standard Process, Custom to You

Being an ISO 9001:2015 company, we take great pride in creating quality parts that our customers can count on. DeKALB Molded Plastics has a standard process for every part that we mold, with established procedures inside of the practice as a whole. Our meticulous quality checks include processes for:

  • Material
  • Melt Flow Analysis
  • Colorants
  • Specifications of the material
  • Value-added inspections
  • Visual inspections
  • Weight tracking

In addition to our standard processes, we also have the flexibility to implement additional verifications and inspections, as required by our customers. Some of our additional quality process capabilities include the ability to complete gage R&R studies, understanding how the measurement determines repeatability and reproducibility, flatness checks to discover how well the part maintains its shape, verification of size and some capability studies. For customers with higher-level requirements or those in the medical industry, DeKALB offers a production part approval process or PPAP submission to ensure that part specifications are met.

What Makes Us Different

Some companies may pass on parts that require too many part inspections, while others do not have the capabilities to do part testing. Being committed to your solutions means that we are dedicated to finding a way to offer a complete custom molding solution, every time.

As part of our growing capabilities to ensure quality, we offer some product testing including:

  • Adhesion testing & plastic welding parts
  • Build up test
  • Falling dart test
  • Other various tests, as requested by the customer

As a custom molder, one of our greatest strengths is our flexibility. We regularly have customers ask us to do specific inspections and verifications for their products. At DeKALB, our customers set the standards for the quality checks and verifications that are completed on their parts through individual runs or set of runs. Far from simply molding a part and shipping it, what separates us from our competition is the number of quality checks we perform, our ability to produce parts in color, and our willingness to do as many inspections as needed by our customers.

Continuous Improvement in Action

Continuous improvement is a way of life at DeKALB, as we constantly strive to advance our company, never being satisfied with where we are. Our culture of continuous improvement means we are always looking at how we can improve our processes, quality, safety and how we can expand our capabilities.

Recently, DeKALB has experienced exciting growth with our expansion in automation and continued additions to our quality measures to support a high grade of aesthetics. At the end of 2019, DeKALB added a new robot, adding to our automation capabilities. Currently, the new robot is being used for multiple customers and will continue to be utilized more.

As DeKalb continues to expand capabilities to suit the needs of our customers, our team recently began working with new programs that require more analysis, including some hot stamping applications for multiple parts, as well as adding labels more accurately. These parts have labels that require very precise placement and have several requirements and standards related to their placement. Our team has added additional quality control measures, helping to improve our ability to meet these needs. Both of these examples are areas that highlight how DeKALB is growing and showcases how we continue to find ways to live out our culture of continuous improvement.

Future of Quality at DeKALB

We are excited to expand our abilities in electronic data collection and use lessons learned to improve our sampling and manufacturing capabilities. As we continue to grow, we maintain our commitment to delivering excellence, ensuring that our products and services are best-in-class, and understanding that each of us is responsible for the quality of everything we do.

Let’s start your next project together; contact us today!

Structural Foam Molding, It’s What We Do

As a custom structural foam molder specializing in large, multi-nozzle plastic products, DeKALB Molded Plastics has more than 40 years of experience serving our customers as a trusted business partner. We believe in structural foam because, at DeKALB Molded Plastics, we are structural foam!

The Basics of Structural Foam

A simple question that is often asked to us is, “what are the characteristics of structural foam?” Since structural foam is not a material but rather a manufacturing process, it’s not easy to answer this question. What is structural foam? Structural foam plastic molding is an injection molding process that utilizes a foaming agent and/or nitrogen gas that mixes with the base resin in the polymer melt before being injected into the mold.

What Materials are used in the Structural Foam Process?

As the case with most plastic manufacturing processes, polymers are used. There are two main categories of polymers, thermoplastics and thermosets. The main difference between the two is thermosets cannot be recycled, while thermoplastics can. At DeKALB, we primarily work with thermoplastics and can mold almost all of them. Under the thermoplastics umbrella lies three general groups of resins - commodity, engineered and performance. DeKALB Molded Plastics mainly focuses on commodity resins, but we mold many engineered resins as well. True to our commitment to providing unrivaled customer satisfaction, we have the flexibility and experience to work with all three types. In addition to the resins that we work with, DeKALB is also equipped to add additivities including talc, glass-fiber, impact modifiers and, in some cases, crumb rubber.

Structural foam has great recyclability, as parts molded in this process can be made from virgin material or recycled material. From there, the part, whether originally from virgin material or recycled material, can continue to be recycled, and subsequently, remolded again and again.

What Does DeKALB Molded Plastics Do?

Simply put, we mold big, heavy-duty thermoplastic parts. Generally, the guidelines for the parts that we produce weigh between 3 and 150 pounds, dimensionally parts are a 1’ x 1’ square, up to 4’ x 8’, similar to a sheet of plywood, and 30” deep. The thickness of the parts produced ranges from 3/16” to 3/8+” (4.7mm to 10mm).

We have the capabilities to go slightly outside of those boundaries getting close to 6 feet by 6 feet or just under 36 square feet. As always, depending on the application, there are some instances where we can go larger. As for the thickness of the part, we can go thicker or thinner, though when making a part thicker, it is usually more cost-effective to add strength with ribbing rather than thicker sections of plastic. Additionally, when making a part thinner than 3/16”, there are more considerations to make and pay attention to during the process.

DeKALB has a long and proud history of producing custom molded products for multiple market segments. Some examples of the products that we mold include:

  • Yellow barrels – (Seen on highways)
  • Pallets
  • Flooring
  • Underground enclosures

Can You Paint Structural Foam Parts?

From the color of your kitchen to the shoes that you wear, being able to customize something to get exactly what you want is important, and the same is true for the parts that we make. Providing custom solutions, in exactly the color you need, is just one of the ways DeKALB effectively serves our customers. Structural foam parts can be painted, and there are two ways to go about creating parts in a certain color. The part can be molded in color with colorants mixed in or color can be added during secondary operations. To meet your exact specifications, we either add colorant into the foam-resin mix or our in-house paint shop can meet the specific color requested.

We Are Structural Foam

Do you have questions about structural foam? Visit our structural foam FAQ’s.

When you work with us, you work with a partner that is committed to your solutions, providing the answers to your structural foam needs. With a wide range of capabilities in plastic processing and an experienced team of engineers, operators and quality technicians, DeKALB Molded Plastics is up to the challenge. Ready to discover what DeKALB can do for you? Contact us today!

DeKALB Molded Plastics Committed to Safety

At DeKALB Molded Plastics, we strive to ensure that everyone who enters our facility is entering a safe work environment. As a team planning our 2020 goals, we decided we’re not willing to give up on anyone’s safety. It doesn’t matter if you’re an employee, a customer, a vendor, or a truck driver, our goal remains the same – ZERO! At DeKALB, safety is everyone’s responsibility. We are conscientious not only about our safety but the safety of others around us.

The benefits of maintaining a safe work environment are many, but first and foremost, safety is about the dedication and execution of protecting those within your building. We at DeKALB, want to send our teammates home in the same condition they arrived in.

DeKALB’s strategic focus on a safe work environment boosts employee morale, which in turn, increases productivity, efficiency and profit margins. When our teammates feel like they have a good, safe work environment, they feel like they can make a difference. There are fewer staff absences, less staff turnover and improves the quality of work.

Regardless of the number of safety guidelines and practices that are in place, we believe they won’t do any good if our teammates are not aware and invested in following those guidelines. We at DeKALB embrace the fact that the safest work environment occurs when employees, at all levels of the organization, work together to communicate and adhere to the safety standards defined. Our safety program has been successful because it encourages employees to report unsafe situations and behaviors, promoting safe practices throughout the workday.

Equipment maintenance is important at DeKALB. When equipment is not properly maintained, the work environment can become a hazard, even beyond the risk of malfunctions. Our teammates have been trained and are prepared to know what to look for when a machine is not operating correctly. Our staff is on the lookout for warning signs like vibrations, alarms, leaks and unusual noises. When our equipment is being maintained, we make sure safeguards are in place. Additionally, our staff is cautiously responsible for moving materials in multiple conditions: raw, in-process and finished goods. Inappropriate handling of material can be dangerous, resulting in overexertion and exhaustion, running the risk of equipment failure. Our team values how important it is to physically lift objects the right way, which reduces the risk for strains and sprains or even broken bones.

At DeKALB Molded Plastics, we take safety seriously. When an employee grows complacent with safety, it can become a huge liability to the team member’s wellbeing and the company. We believe that most workplace accidents can be prevented simply by being alert. Heavy machinery and forklifts can especially be dangerous, and that’s why we require our team to be constantly vigilant and consistently aware of their surroundings.

At the end of the day, we deliver high-quality structural foam components that are used in many of today’s medical and material handling end products. Our high standards for quality are paralleled by our high standards for safety within our building and for our team members.

Gas Assist Molding

Providing a one-stop-shop for our customers’ plastic and assembly requirements, DeKALB Molded Plastics utilizes three main plastic manufacturing processes to create our products: structural foam, gas counter-pressure, and gas assist. Beginning in the mid-1990s, our team began using gas assist as a way to enhance part performance and aesthetics with a footprint as large as 150 pounds and up to 30 inches deep.

What is Gas Assist Molding?

Gas assist molding is a process that uses pressurized nitrogen gas to hollow out strategically placed sections. During the process, plastic is injected into a mold, then gas is injected either in thick zones or in gas channels, depending on the part. For each part, our team works with the customer to determine the optimal settings for manufacturing the part, to achieve maximum performance while minimizing cost.

Once the resin is introduced into the mold, the nitrogen gas is injected into the polymer melt. The nitrogen forms hollow sections as it displaces the polymer in thicker areas, resulting in a significantly lighter cross-section. The gas assist method prevents sink marks and the ‘characteristic swirl’ that occurs during structural foam processing. In addition, cycle time is reduced due to faster cooling, equating to a lower cost component.

Benefits of Gas Assist Molding

Gas assist molding has many benefits:

  • Faster cycle time
  • Surface finish similar to injection molding
  • Reduced cooling times
  • Lighter part weight
  • Lower piece part price
  • Integrating localized design features

Applications of Gas Assist Molding

Typical uses for gas assist molding include:

  • Hollowing out a localized thick area
  • Generating stiffening sections across a part
  • Performing the pack phase of the process

Each of these reasons provides a different benefit. Hollowing out a thick area of a part also allows bold design features. Gas assist can also be used to increase the structural integrity of a part by producing stiffness across the part. Finally, using gas assist molding to perform the pack phase of the process allows a part to function in a smaller press tonnage, which lowers overhead.

When weighing the benefits of different ways to mold a part, the gas assist molding process is often chosen because of the benefits of not having the swirled pattern common to foamed products. Overall, gas assist molding produces parts with more attractive cosmetic surfaces.

What Products are Created Using Gas Assist Molding?

Everything including air compressor parts, medical equipment housings, refrigerator door handles, heater shrouds, bleacher seats, and utility carts. The possibilities of what can be created through gas assist molding are limited only by our imagination.

Does the Design of Gas Assist Molding Require Additional Considerations?

During the tooling design stage, tooling is adapted to direct gas into predetermined areas hollowing out up to 15% of the total volume.

To learn more about gas assist molding or any of our processes at DeKALB, contact our committed team of experts today!

DeKALB Receives Primex Award for Outstanding Partnership

DeKALB Molded Plastics received the 2017 award for Recognition of Outstanding Partnership with Primex, announced Steve Boyd, Materials Manager at DeKALB.

The award was bestowed upon DeKALB for dedication and reliability when working with Primex. Each year the award is presented to Primex customers that have created successful partnerships by working together and developing effective programs that are a win-win for both the supplier and customer. The recognition from Primex confirms DeKALB’s passion for our people, products, customers, and suppliers. Through relationships like these, DeKALB hopes to cultivate long-term benefits that will influence future projects.

“DeKALB manages our relationships with the highest level of professionalism, respect, and courtesy with both suppliers and customers,” says Boyd. “We also aim to demonstrate the courage to shape a more profitable future for our whole team.”

The entire DeKALB organization is honored to receive recognition from their peers, especially from a partner with such a stout reputation as Primex.

About Primex

Primex Plastics is a subsidiary of ICC Industries Inc., a worldwide leader in trading, distribution, marketing and manufacturing, primarily of chemicals, plastics and related products.

DeKALB Celebrates 20 Years Under Rodgers and Walters’ Leadership

DeKALB Molded Plastics is thrilled to be commemorating 20 years of local ownership under Jeff Rodgers and Rick Walters, and 38 years overall of successful business, relationships, and service to the community.

Founded in 1978, DeKALB Molded Plastics is a custom structural foam molder specializing in large, multi-nozzle plastic products. DeKALB was one of the first ISO 9002 certified (currently 9001:2015) structural plastics molders in the US. In 1997, Jeff Rodgers and Rick Walters purchased DeKALB from their parent company, JSJ Corporation. While the two serve as owners, Walters is also the President and CEO.

“We couldn’t be happier to be celebrating 20 incrediblely productive years with our team members and the community,” says Walters. “From the start, DeKALB has aimed to be a one-stop shop for your plastic and assembly requirements, and I think we’ve achieved that status and then some.”

One of DeKALB’s biggest differentiators under the leadership of Rodgers and Walters has been their commitment to the local community of Butler, Indiana.

“DeKALB is really engaged with our community because you have to make where you live a really good place,” says Walters. “That’s a combination of work, home, and anything else that’s around you. We work hard to make sure we put our time and our talents back into our community. A lot of people will help financially but really it’s about the time. It’s about getting out there, making contributions, and engaging – that’s what brings the win.”

The entire DeKALB organization will be hosting a party on Sunday, September 10, 2017, to officially celebrate their 20 years of outstanding leadership.