Chase Plastics Spotlight
David Harris acquired Chase Plastics, one of the country’s longest established manufacturers of recycled plastic, in 2018. The company had a good reputation and established client base but needed new energy and a different approach to grow. Their historic demand had been based on price: it was cheaper to use recycled polythene. However, in recent years the increased focus on sustainability and the circular economy has created new opportunities for recycled plastic where quality and service are the key drivers. This made it an ideal time for Chase Plastics to review their own processes, marketing and approach.
“2019 was a great year. We started to refocus on quality, service and the added value that we provide, not just price. We started 2020 with a year on year increase of 40%, fresh branding and an investment plan in place to continue to support that growth path,” notes David. “We noticed a dip in February and did what we could to encourage other businesses to stay active, but during March demand dropped significantly.”
“Our business is based on buying scrap polythene and turning it into high performance sustainable raw materials to allow new products to be made. We are reliant on other organisations being active to provide us with the scrap to recycle and of course, we need strong demand for the materials we produce,” explains David. “I wasn’t prepared to close the doors, we have customers who depend on us and our materials are a vital component of many supply chains on which the country, and the NHS, are dependant. I felt that if a business stopped trading there was no clear sign of when the restart would be. I couldn’t understand the mentality of business owners who just shut shop and went home. I just don’t have that mind-set”.
This left David with a challenge as things could not continue as they were. There was no option in the business to diversify product but with the drop in activity, a change was needed. David decided the best option would be to adapt how they operated and moved from a 24/7 operation, to a 24/4 pattern. Two of the four shifts were furloughed, around one-third of the total workforce. Those who remained agreed to work longer hours and a different shift pattern. “The team who stayed on have been fantastic and worked hard to keep production going. We have been using the time to review our processes in line with our business plan and it has been running efficiently,” says David.
This has been the first time the company has moved away from the 24/7 shift pattern. Thinking out of the box, and making this change was vital to allow operations to keep open, and continue to provide reliable service.
As well as the furlough scheme, Chase Plastics has also benefited from the Bounce Back Loan Scheme providing added financial security. Whilst David has concerns about the future of the economy as a whole, he is feeling positive and confident about the future of Chase Plastics: “We intend to proceed with our investment programme as planned later this year. It was the right decision six months ago and I have faith it remains the right decision. We have shown we are a resilient business in good financial health. There will be some tough decisions ahead and all we can do is fight hard to ensure we succeed.”