Canadian Plastics

We need entrepreneurs who pursue their dreams

I was very disappointed with a news item on Profine Molds Inc. ("Too-rapid expansion bankrupts Profine Molds", Oct. 2006 Canadian Plastics, pages 12-13). I am a former employee of Profine and believe ...

February 1, 2007   Canadian Plastics



I was very disappointed with a news item on Profine Molds Inc. (“Too-rapid expansion bankrupts Profine Molds”, Oct. 2006 Canadian Plastics, pages 12-13). I am a former employee of Profine and believe that the truth of Profine’s story would be told best by parties such as myself and past colleagues, who knew the company well and saw it change over the years.

As many know, Profine was founded by Manuel Gomes, a Portuguese tool maker by trade and entrepreneur at heart. The company started with two employees, some small equipment, and a dream. In the beginning, management was always strong, mainly because Manuel ran all the management positions.

Manuel continued on pursuing his global vision, and remained strong through tough times. He was very modest, respectful, knowledgeable, and hard working. It was very easy to approach him and discuss any issues on your mind. He loves challenges, so he would ask that you speak out and not fear what will happen, because he admits that he could be wrong at times.

As time progressed, Profine continued to expand and was building a strong reputation and name for itself in the industry as a quality high-end injection mold maker. But as we grew, so did the management team.

The construction of the new building caused uncertainty for many of us, but our worries were more focused on the management team that had been created at Profine. By this time, Manuel was focused heavily on attracting new business, to ensure the future of our organization. It seemed that the company was on the right track and Manuel believed that the management team was fulfilling their responsibilities. But I and my colleagues on the shop floor were concerned We felt that quality and service were diminishing as poor operations management would allow unfinished work that did not meet Profine standards to leave the door just to make a deadline. Jobs were started late, and pressure was pushed onto us in the shop floor. It was not the same productive environment as it was when Manuel was in the shop.

The worst part was that the management team created a barrier for employees to communicate with Manuel. The politics and formality had increased immensely. The communications problem within our organization was the first clear signal that Profine was headed for some dramatic changes.

Then the falling began, and it happened quite rapidly. At this point, Manuel was very involved and immediately removed four of the top managers for non-performance. Another problem was that all of the company’s financing came from one bank. It was the classic lesson: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,”

This decision came back to haunt us, along with the destruction created by upper management, and Manuel was not capable of managing a seventy plus labour force, with a 60,000 square foot facility with international operations on his own. The fact of the matter was that Profine was forced to liquidated its assets. We were all puzzled and our hearts were broken when we received the news, but it was evident that this great organization was being robbed of its true potential.

We disagree with Wayne Stoddard’s comments, in your news item, indicating that entrepreneurship ruined Profine. I can see this statement posing fear on other leaders with visions of expanding their business to provide people better opportunities and contribute to the greater good of society. This should not be the case, but rather entrepreneurship and great leaders should pursue their dreams.

The plastics industry today poses great opportunities and challenges, especially for mold makers. Foreign competition and a retiring skilled labour force creates a need for entrepreneurship and great leaders, such as Manuel. Vision, passion, and tenacity despite failure are the exact leadership traits that the Canadian plastics industry requires. What is important to recognize is that like any other organization in any industry, having committed, competent and great people at all levels of the organization is required.

There was a mismatch at Profine, as this commitment existed on the production floor, as people stated, “I’m with you until the end Manuel, I will work for free until things get better.” Manuel paid our salaries from his own personal savings for one of the payroll periods, since the accounts were frozen. This just indicates the type of man and leader that he is. Many who know Manuel know that he is a “straight shooter,” no lies, a big heart, with a “go-getter” attitude. I think all great entrepreneurs in our industry should be recognized for their contributions, and risks.

Canadian Plastics, we hope that you will publish this article and let your readers know the truth, and encourage other plastics leaders to continue on with their dreams.

Sincerely,

Denise Castelmezzano

and other former Profine Team Members


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