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WASHINGTON — Jim Chiavetta thinks Microplastics Inc. has a perfect business partner in IVP Plastics, MPI's new subsidiary.

"We were looking to expand two years ago, and we hired an investment banker to help us," said Chiavetta, MPI's president. "We cast a wide net."

That net reached Darryl Lindemann, IVP's president and CEO, and Chiavetta and Lindemann started talking this spring.

Chiavetta said he was impressed by the work ethic, teamwork and dedication of the IVP employees at the company's facilities in Washington and St. Louis.

Lindemann was intrigued by MPI's employee stock ownership plan. He had hoped to someday make IVP into an ESOP company. There are about 7,000 ESOP companies in the U.S.

"We're 100 percent employee owned," Chiavetta said. "We pay a monthly profit share to our employees, and our theme is 'think like an owner.'

"The positive momentum and teamwork that result from an ESOP is quite catchy. I compare it to the difference between renting an apartment and owning your own home."

Talks between Chiavetta and Lindemann resulted in St. Charles-based MPI purchasing IVP, with IVP becoming a subsidiary of MPI. The deal was sealed Sept. 1.

IVP employees will become ESOP participants and stock shareholders after wait periods and vesting are completed.

Chiavetta said MPI's proximity to IVP's facilities was another enticement in the sale.

"IVP was a good fit for us geographically. We were hoping to expand in the Midwest," he said. "It's a 2 1/2-hour drive from St. Charles to IVP's Washington plant (at 300 N. Cummings Lane) with a stop for coffee."

Before they joined forces, IVP and MCI did not have the same customers.

Founded 60 years ago, IVP is an injection molder of custom plastic parts mostly for the large construction, farming and food service industries.

With sales of $19 million, IVP ranks No. 261 among North American injection molders, according to Plastics News.

Among IVP's customers are Caterpillar Inc. and John Deere. IVP has more than 150 employees, including 92 in Washington.

MPI, founded 30 years ago, is an insert injection plastic molder primarily for the automotive industry.

Thanks to the purchase of IVP, MPI has doubled its workforce to more than 300 employees and increased total sales to more than $45 million.

With three divisions, MPI now has 52 presses with a range of molding capabilities from 40 to 1,000 tons, and 160,000 square feet of floor space.

There's 75,000 square feet and 18 presses in Washington, 35,000 square feet and 14 presses in St. Louis and 50,000 square feet and 20 presses in St. Charles.

Those numbers could change.

"We plan to expand over the next two years because we expect growth with our existing customers and new customers," Chiavetta said.

Lindemann retired following the sale of his company to MCI, but is a consultant during the transition.

"We're thankful for Darryl's help and sensitive to the fact that he wanted to leave his company into the hands of good people," Chiavetta said.

Lydia Miller, Lindemann's daughter, is IVP's human resources manager. She's been with IVP for nearly six years, first as a human resources generalist before becoming human resources manager in 2017.

"There haven't been any major changes so far now that we're a subsidiary of MPI. We're learning about them, and they're learning about us," Miller said. "We have good processes in place, but you can always learn.

"I'm sure whatever changes are made will be mutually beneficial for everyone."

Chiavetta said he was impressed with how IVP management and employees responded to an emergency last year.

Wet, heavy snow collapsed the roof over the main production area at IVP in March 2018 and halted operations.

Only about 15 employees were in the building at the time of the roof collapse because it happened on a Saturday. The employees got out of the building quickly and were not injured.

It was the original roof on the building, which was built in 1992 to accommodate IVP's move from Peoria.

IVP management reacted quickly to the situation, making sure employees were paid during the down time and working to resume production as quickly as possible.

In what turned out to be a fortuitous move, IVP had recently purchased the former Akron Brass building across North Cummings Lane and about 200 yards north of the IVP facility.

The building at 501 N. Cummings Lane now serves mostly as a warehouse, but it served after the roof collapse as IVP's office while the power and utilities were out at IVP's building across the street.

IVP once was an acronym for Illinois Valley Plastics. Lindemann changed the acronym to "Innovation, Value and Performance."


As ssen in the Peoria Journal Star.