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Final Cut

Fresh Ideas In A Stale Economy

Passion, diversity, and the endless pursuit of new business keep these companies humming.

By Harry Urban

Why are some companies thriving in this economic downturn? How is it that one firm can be up 20 percent in sales while others around it are struggling? Our inaugural Fast 30 coverage on page 13 provides a few answers to these questions. We launched the Fast 30 this year to uncover the fastest growing companies in the plastics molding and fabricating industry. This year’s group is made of both large and small companies representing a wide range of disciplines-in other words, typical PM&F readers.

Take Donnelly Custom Manufacturing Co. in Alexandria, MN, for example. Founded in 1984, Donnelly is a custom injection molder that grew by 20 percent in 2000 and is up again this year, the sluggish economy notwithstanding. Donnelly ranks 18th in the PM&F Fast 30. Apparently Donnelly’s personnel come to work each day with a rare kind of dedication. Ron Kierscht, Donnelly president, said his 240-employee firm is “passionate” about what it does. “Our value proposition is to provide customers with the best total solution,” said Kierscht. “Our terrific customer base and our people’s willingness to learn and adapt to change to has fueled our growth.”

Kierscht s
“If you‘re highly integrated and solutions-based your customers know that they can rely on you to handle everything.”

- Ron Kierscht, President, Donnelly Custom Manufacturing Co.

aid one of Donnelly’s goals is to serve a select group of customers in a broad range of industries. “We dedicate ourselves to bring expertise to areas where our customers have strategically chosen to seek outside help. Our customers are also diversifying themselves.” Donnelly’s clients range from industrial OEM’s to medical products to consumer products.

Donnelly’s engineering services include value analysis, product and mold design, and project management of domestic and overseas tooling programs. Their manufacturing services include injection molding, secondary machining, decorating, packaging, and complete or partial assembly. “If you’re highly integrated and solutions-based your customers know that they can rely on you to handle everything,” said Kierscht.

Sterling Technologies in Erie, PA, is ranked Number 1 in the PM&F Fast 30. Greg Cronkhite, president, steered the three-year-old company to 234 percent growth in 2000 and he expects it to grow another 30 percent this year. Sterling is a custom rotational molder with customers in contract furniture, medical, POP/store fixtures, and sporting goods.

For Cronkhite business has been nothing but up, and he attributes his success to the never-ending pursuit of new customers. “We’ve been proactive in going after new business,” said Cronkhite. “I’ve always subscribed to the theory that you have to continue to talk to new people, even when you’re busy. You should be growing your prospect list by 20 percent every year.” After talking to Greg it’s pretty obvious that his background is in sales and marketing. He said his biggest challenge has been to find good manufacturing people.

Next Year’s “Fast” Processors

We know there are many more success stories out there. We'd like to hear from you for next year’s report. Please give me a call at 800-343-2016 X 650 or e-mail me at

Plastics Molding & Fabricating
P: (847) 634-4347
F: (847) 634-4379
P.O. BOX 1400