[caption id="attachment_36654" align="alignright" width="360" caption="Wright Engineered Plastics employees work on assembling medical products in their Santa Rosa facility."][/caption]
SANTA ROSA -- Wright Engineered Plastics, winner in the Environment category, is also a winner in the offshore manufacturing battle.
The plastic injection molding company's combination of speed, flexibility and green practices is wooing back customers who had moved manufacturing overseas.
When WEP CEO Barbara Roberts purchased the company in 1996, it had 76 employees, serving primarily U.S. customers in the telecom, medical, and electronics industries.
Wright Engineered Plastics
Address: 3225 Regional Parkway, Santa Rosa 95403
After losing major U.S. OEM customers to contract workers abroad, WEP restructured itself into a global supplier for offshore manufacturers and multinationals in same industries.
Now the Santa Rosa company employs 46, but “our cumulative level of expertise is much greater, even if our numbers are fewer,” said Ms. Roberts.
“We've automated most of our processes, and we don't invest in equipment that won't bring us the highest level of return,” she said.
Supplying offshore manufacturers is only a part of WEP's business strategy, which includes seeking out industries -- including military and medical -- that prefer U.S. suppliers.
The company had supplied Johnson & Johnson with assembly of its diabetes testing products before the operation was relocated offshore, a move some in the medical industry have come to consider a mistake.
Factory operations in countries with weak environmental regulations are causing widespread pollution, said Ms. Roberts.
“That pollution reaches our shores eventually. There's a growing realization that the relatively high cost of doing business with American manufacturers is worthwhile for some industries,” she said.
Under her leadership, WEP was the first manufacturer in the nine Bay Area counties to be certified as a green business and received a "best practices" award from the Business Environmental Alliance, a program Ms. Roberts spearheaded.
WEP recycles or reuses over 50,000 pounds of plastics, metal and industrial waste each year. The company has dramatically cut water and electricity use at its Santa Rosa facility, indoors and out.
If a manufacturer's “high bay lights in the manufacturing area are not fluorescent, they are not walking the talk,” said Ms. Roberts.
WEP's more environmentally conscious customers are pleased that they can make a difference by choosing a certified green manufacturer, she said, “and they're especially glad that we were able to implement these green practices with impacting our cost to them.”
WEP is ISO-certified and operates a high-level clean room for its medical products.
Local customers include Agilent Technologies, Medtronic CardioVascular, Calix Networks, Force 10 Networks, General Dynamics and JDS Uniphase.