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  • 10/11/2010
  • N.E.W. Featured in The Business News

    • N.E.W. Plastics Corp. in Luxemburg is a business focused around family, growth, and its community.

      Mike Rekitzke, company president, smiled as he recalled the beginnings of N.E.W. "See that building over there? They used to make soap," he said. He went on to tell the story of Irvin Vincent who, in 1968, decided to start making plastic when a neighbor and friend was looking for a container so he could more easily distribute his soap.

      The company has been passed down in the Vincent family and has grown into a multifaceted corporation that includes a custom plastic blow molder and a profile-excursion molder.

      "We serve various markets - anything to do with rigid packaging for the food service industry, for nutraceuticals, or for pharmaceuticals. We are FDA compliant and certified by American Insurance of Baking," Rekitzke said.

      Their creations include decking, high-end lawn furniture, prescription bottle, gallon jugs for protein, and the large green Gatorade water bottles used by the NFL.

      Recently, they again expanded the direction of the company. One year ago N.E.W. purchased the Tri-Max structural-lumber business.

      "We now actually make a sustainable plastic lumber that can be used as structural material," Rekitzke said. "It certainly is a different market. It used to be that you'd put the top of a deck on that would last you forever and you'd be putting it on top of lumber that might last you 15 years. Now, we actually have a full package where you can build a deck that would last forever, so we're pretty proud of that."

      Part of what N.E.W. takes pride in is being environmentally sustainable.

      "A lot of people look at plastic and say 'How can plastic be sustainable?' and yet when you look at it, a two by four eight feet long is 112 empty gallon milk cartons," Rekitzke said. "We can turn that into a board that can be used for furniture, in decking, in boardwalks that will be there forever and eliminate those 112 empty milk carton from going into a landfill some place. For us, sustainability means taking something that would normally be waste items into a useful product that in the end will save the consumer money."

      This sustainability is helping the company grow even in tough economic times.

      "We have not really seen a huge downturn. We've actually had one of the best years we've had in the last 10 years," Rekitzke said.

      Rekitzke, who started two years ago right at the beginning of the tough economy, is happy that taking risks seems to have paid off.

      "You can either look at it and say 'Times are bad, we'll sit back and stick our heads in the sand and say, well, it will maybe go away' or you can take the approach that we're going in," Rekitzke said. "You can say 'We're going to go out and do everything we can to try and make this still a good year.' What we did was cross that hurdle, we took enough initiative on our own to make this a good viable business even in tough economic times."

      They did this by acquiring Tri-Max, a company Rekitzke said in the long-run would help N.E.W. break into new markets.

      "We've brought a lot of change to the company both culturally and from a sales organizations standpoint," he said. "We've reached out to get customers that normally we wouldn't have."

      With the growth of a company comes the growth of employees.

      "I think the most rewarding experience for us watching our team members in this company grow. That's exciting," Rekitzke said. "We've been a really good business with a lot of senior employees and watching them grow while changing the business...that's been fun."

      The N.E.W. employees are almost entirely local, primarily from Luxemburg-New Franken, with just a few coming from Algoma or Green Bay.

      "We try and recruit as much locally as we can." Rekitzke said. "Certainly not that we won't go outside there. Since we are a community and a family-owned business here, we try and stay within the local area to provide jobs."

      N.E.W. typically employs anywhere from 185-200 employees depending on the time of year, but because of their continued growth, they have been able to have 190 employees working "24 hours a day 7 days a week for the last 5-6 months," Rekitzke said.

      N.E.W. is hoping to continue to grow and expand not only in this market but also into others, which is included in the company's five year plan, according to Rekitzke.

      "Certainly our goal is to continue to grow the business," he said. "We understand that to be a good partner for this community we need to be a viable business and continue to create employment in the area."

      Because N.E.W. is a major employer in the area, it has a special connection with its community.

      "We know that not only has the community been good to us, we need to be good to them," Rekitzke said. "We spend a lot of time in the community with everything from giving trees during Christmas time to food-pantry items and other charities."

      Rekitzke said he always is impressed by the kind hears of team members.

      "We put the boxes out and honestly we don't even have to ask our people," he said. "They are very generous, very warm people and so we've never had to even suggest that they do it. They just open their hearts."

      The kind nature of its employees and the growth of the business earned N.E.W. Plastics Corp a nomination for the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Business Award. The company will be recognized at the Chamber's annual dinner at the KI Center on Oct. 18.

      "For me, it really means that I think we have gotten the message across that we are a good company - That we are doing the right things not only for our team members and our community for our consumers by bringing them good sustainable product that will be around for a long time," Rekitzke said. "Hopefully, over the coming years the economy straightens out and we can really achieve what we want to achieve because I think our employees deserve that."






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