Confer Plastics Explorer Post meets for the first time today

The first-ever Confer Plastics Explorer Post begins today and we have 8 youth who have signed up to participate in this once-a-month program. It’s too late to sign up now, but we will have another session starting in October of 2018.   We strongly encourage other manufacturers to launch Explorer Posts. We always hear about how young folks aren’t interested in manufacturing and how there’s not enough tradespeople. Well, manufacturers need to step up to the plate and help educate teens and show them the wonders of Made in the USA.   Our program is pretty in-depth and exciting. Here’s what the next 9 months look like:   October 18th; 4:30 to 5:45 Confer Plastics 101: We will begin with an introduction to Exploring and a discussion of the goals of this Explorer Post. Most of the meeting will be spent on a plant tour of Confer Plastics to give an introductory look at manufacturing and a foundation for upcoming meetings and discussions.   November 8th; 4:30 to 5:45 Sales & marketing and finance: We will talk about how the company markets its custom molding services and proprietary products and how we determine what customers and the marketplace would want. We will discuss how we price products and various financial aspects of the company as well as the wide variety of expenditures we make. Career paths touched on: sales & marketing, accounting, finance, human resources, purchasing.   December 13th; 4:30 to 5:45 Design & engineering and materials: We will discuss how products are designed, the nuances of blow molding design and we will spend some time in the machine...

Update on the Hurricane Harvey material crisis

On August 30th, following the Texas landfall of Hurricane Harvey we sent a letter to our clients, and posted the same on our company social media accounts, about the possibility of a materials crisis in the plastics industry following that destructive hurricane.   Unlike many plastics processors, we were being proactive in that regard, just as we have always been proactive in materials management, knowing something like this hurricane would happen.   That preparedness manifested itself in multiple ways: the investment years back in material silos that would allow us to hold over a million pounds of resin at a time; the utilization of a mixed basket of six  materials suppliers with none holding more than 30% of our business; and the careful consideration of the markets by our materials manager, Cliff Hoover.   Despite all that planning, no one could be prepared for what the marketplace has become and will continue to be. Hurricane Harvey was an unprecedented event.   Almost three-quarters of the North American blow molding materials come from the Texas communities that were affected by the floods and three-quarters of those producers are still to this day either idled, crippled, or a shell of their former selves.   Here are some random observations about what faces us — and faces you:   High density polyethylene is incredibly hard to come by, no matter your buying power. Many of our September railcars have yet to roll, and some are delayed by two weeks and likely more One huge supplier won’t have their main plant up and running soon and they are not accepting new orders until...

Fisher-Price engineers tour Confer Plastics

On Wednesday we were visited by 12 engineers from toy manufacturer Fisher-Price. These engineers participate in a Fisher-Price engineering program called I.C.E (Innovation, Creativity, and Engineering) which provides them the opportunity to explore exciting and interesting examples of engineering and manufacturing in Buffalo and neighboring communities....

Confer Plastics donated raffle items to 262 causes over the past year

We’ve completed another annual cycle of giving. I’m always curious how many charity events we donate to across the region, so I track them from October 1 to September 30. 2016-2017 was another record-breaker as we donated to 262 charities, benefits and raffles. For most of those 12 months, we donated our bistro sets which have since been discontinued. Since mid-summer we’ve donated $50 gift cards for the Made in America Store. Even though our year of tracking our donations has ended, the giving doesn’t stop. We just keep on going. We love to give to the community, with a special emphasis on local events and fundraisers that help smaller organizations like churches, non-profits, scout troops and, especially, families that are in great need in times of health issues and other crises. So, don’t hesitate to ask for gift card. It’s the least we can do to help local organizations and families succeed in trying times and a trying economy. Here’s the roll call of causes we donated to: Adams Fire Company Adell’s School of Dance Alden’s Meals on Wheels American Legion Newcomb-Long Post 928 American Legion Wheatfield Post 1451 AnJo Bombers 9 U Baseball AnJo Bombers 11 U Baseball Michelle Archer benefit Autism Services John Babis Memorial Golf Tournament Bacon Memorial Presbyterian Church BAM Memorial fundraiser Jason Barden benefit Barker Lions Club Holly Beals benefit Patti & Dave Bova benefit Boy Scouts of America: Troop 8 Boy Scouts of America: Troop 98 Boy Scouts of America: Troop 173 Boys & Girls Club of Depew-Lancaster Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northtowns BRAINS: A pediatric brain tumor research fund...

Heat policy in effect for September 25th

2nd shift personnel: With the temperature at and above 90 for the rest of the daylight hours, you are not required to report to work today (Monday), but you can at your own discretion. Those who do not report to work will not be paid (unless they use a personal or vacation day) and it will count as an excused absence. We ask that you still take the time to call the office or the foremen’s phone if you are not coming in so that your foreman is aware for scheduling...

Heritage Centers tours the factory

On Friday, September 15th, 6 clients of the Heritage Centers and 2 of their caretakers toured Confer Plastics. The Heritage Centers serves children and adults with disabilities by offering comprehensive services ranging to from day to vocational to residential services. You can learn about the organization here: http://www.heritagecenters.org/ These visitors were allowed to see our factory in operation and hear about careers in manufacturing, light assembly, warehousing and distribution that are available across Western New York. This was the fourth tour that the company has provided to clients of disability agencies this year alone. This uptick in visits is in response to sheltered workshops across the country being forced to close by various levels of government. The disabled, their families, and their service providers are now facing great unknowns as they enter the general workforce and it is hoped plant tours such as ours help them alleviate their fears and see what is available in the local...

Explorer post at Confer Plastics

Exploring is a worksite-based program of the Boy Scouts of America and is designated for young men and women who are 14 through 20 years old. Exploring units, called “posts”, usually have a focus on a single career field, such as police, fire/rescue, health, law, aviation, engineering, or the like, and may be sponsored by a government or business entity. Working in conjunction with the Greater Niagara Frontier Council of the BSA, a manufacturing Explorer post will launched by Confer Plastics this fall, led by Cliff Hoover, Frank Fedele, Kathy Armol and Bob Confer. The program will run through the school year and the post will meet the second Wednesday of each month from 4:30 PM to 5:45 PM. It will feature the following agenda that will follow the life cycle of a product from start to finish, with considerable hands-on experience in our factory: Oct: Introduction to Confer Plastics and manufacturing Nov: Sales and marketing Dec: Design and engineering Jan: Production Part 1 Feb: Production Part 2 Mar: Quality and safety Apr: Distribution/warehousing and human resources May: Management and leadership June: Program closure and panel discussion about colleges and trade schools The young men and women will be manufacturing experts when they’re done! We are excited about this as we’re always looking for ways to educate the community (especially our youth) on the importance of USA-based manufacturing. Enrollment is limited to the first 12 people. They need not currently be affiliated with the BSA to join the post — they can enroll in the BSA/Exploring and the post at the same time. Confer Plastics will cover any registration...

Hurricane Harvey’s impact on Confer and our clients

Hurricane Harvey is, without a doubt, one of the worst natural disasters to ever strike our country. It is heartbreaking to see the photos and videos of the damaged homes and ruined public infrastructure. It’s impossible to fathom how and when the region will be rebuilt. Our hearts go out all affected by the hurricane. We would like our customers to know that the impact of Harvey extends far beyond the Gulf region. North Tonawanda, New York might seem like a long ways from Houston, Texas, but our operations could be adversely affected by the devastation. A great percentage of North America’s high density polyethylene and its ethylene feedstock come from plants that were right in Harvey’s path. Many plants have closed down indefinitely while others have declared force majeure. As I write this letter, 46% of all of the US capacity has been shut down. When will it go back up? Are we talking a couple of weeks? Or, is it a couple of months? No one knows at this time and no one will know until the waters recede and the facilities (and their workers) can be assessed. Our suppliers and brokers have been telling us to plan for some major uncertainty. The only certainties that we are guaranteed at this time are, one, supply issues and, two, price increases this fall. With our substantial silo capacity and our having purchasing considerable amounts of material earlier this month (which is sitting in rail cars), we have enough material to address immediate needs and satisfy most of the on-order production scheduled for September. BUT, that ability to meet...

Wanted: 3rd shift truck driver

Confer Plastics has an immediate opening for a third shift truck driver. The driver must hold a CDL-A for driving tractor trailers (not box trucks). The hours would be 11:00 PM to 7:25 AM most nights, but during our busiest period (perhaps January through April), the start time would be 10:00 PM. Our third shift runs Monday nights through Friday nights. Occasionally, an overtime shift would be available on a voluntary basis (and the driver and his unloader could also chose either Saturday night or Sunday night). This is an easy gig, too: This would not be over-the-road driving to any of our customers or vendors. Instead, the driver’s sole duty is to make transfers between our main plant at the corner of River and Witmer Roads in North Tonawanda to our warehouse at the former Bell Aerospace plant in Wheatfield. That’s a 10-mile round trip done 7 to 10 times a shift. On almost all transfers, the driver would have someone loading and unloading at those buildings. But, there will be times when the driver has to operate a towmotor and load/unload himself, so he or she should have some experience in operating forklifts. Also, due to the seasonal nature of our work, there will be limited opportunity for driving during third shift hours from late-June through August. During that time, the driver will remain on 3rd shift doing general labor around the plant to stay employed (painting, cleaning, packing products, etc…NOT running one of our molding machines). If interested, send a resume to Bob Confer via either of these methods: Email: bob@conferplastics.com Postal mail: Confer Plastics, Inc. 97...

Furniture line is being discontinued

We are discontinuing our Leisure Accents furniture line. No longer will we be manufacturing our bistro table sets, stools, benches, and side bars. None of those products have come close to achieving the sales volume we had hoped for when we launched the line in 2005. Our other product lines (pool ladders & steps, spa cabinets, etc) are growing so well we’d rather invest inventory, space, machine time, and personnel on those products. This will change what we do for donations. The bistro sets have long been donated to benefits and raffles in Western New York (almost 250 of them a year). Many organizations have come to savor that benevolence and we like to give, so we will continue to donate to those causes. From now on, donation requests will be answered with a $50 gift card to use at any of the seven Made in America Stores across WNY or on their website. We like what Mark Andol and the Made in America Store stand for and we know raffle bidders will appreciate shopping for high-quality, American-made products. We do have enough bistro sets in stock to satisfy all of our bistro set certificates that are still in...

Red Cross blood drive was a huge success

Confer Plastics hosted its inaugural Red Cross blood drive on Wednesday, August 16th. It was awesome to see the interest in this great cause — 30 of our coworkers gave blood! Everyone who donated received a $20 Subway card and had their name put in the hat for a drawing for an extra paid personal day. More importantly, everyone who donated is saving lives!  Thank you to everyone who...

Confer Plastics to participate in STEM Zone at 2018 Air Show

We’re excited to announce that the good people of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and the Niagara Military Affairs Council have asked us to participate in 2018’s Thunder Over Niagara Air Show. They will have a STEM Zone set-up during the air show at which kids and teens can see what local and national manufacturers do and chat with them about education and career paths. We will be one of the participating firms. This is the perfect event at which to discuss STEM; the kids will be thrilled by the speed, power, and sound of the planes and jets — what a way to get them excited about designing and building...