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Shooting Industry November 2011 Digital Edition - Page 34
By Russ Thurman PROFITABLE POLYMERS PolyOne Provides Manufacturing Solutions, Increased Business P olymers have long been accepted in the outdoor industry. While “plastic guns” were once belittled, polymer firearms and other polymer products are now a significant force in the marketplace. PolyOne is a global company that has played a major role in helping firearm and other manufacturers develop polymer products. While PolyOne offers more than 5,000 polymer and elastomer options, the company’s main product, according to Mike Bradley, general manager for PolyOne Distribution, is providing solutions. “The first questions we ask manufacturers are, ‘What keeps you up at night? What are the things that concern you the most?’ We’re not there to sell them something; we’re there to help them with their manufacturing problems — and bring solutions,” Bradley said. The solutions, Bradley says, may include ways to reduce manufacturing costs and decrease material waste. “If we’re working with a shotgun manufacturer, we may say, ‘On your high-end guns, it certainly makes sense to have a nylon stock and a nylon forearm, but for your low-end guns, it may not make sense, and we can help you there.’ Or, a product may be over-engineered, and we can offer ideas that will help reduce the manufacturing cost,” Bradley said. According to Bradley, PolyOne Distribution also provides solutions for increasing efficiency. “We may have a manufacturer say, ‘I should be making 100 stocks, but I’m only making 50,’ or ‘I really have to take some weight out, because of the feedback from my consumers.’ That’s where we can help. It’s a matter of you telling us what you need, and we’ll work with you on it,” Bradley said. Often, PolyOne works with manufacturers to improve product designs. “A small gun manufacturer may only have a ‘really great design,’ and need help moving forward. We ask if they are trying to appeal to the mass market or a small segment, what they want to do to differentiate the gun from others on the market, and what price point they are looking at. From there, we come up with solutions,” Bradley said. Bradley was a reserve deputy sheriff for six years, and both of his sons current- ly serve as law enforcement officers. As a result, he has a keen interest in firearm development, which translates to how he works with manufacturers. “We’re trying to help the industry by helping attract more women and youth, which is why we work with manufacturers to develop colored guns that appeal to women and lighter-weight guns, or a less-expensive firearm for a youth,” Bradley said. “Our philosophy really fits what we think the industry needs. The industry is really beginning to take advantage of what polymers allow you to do, which is to create more styling, lighter weight and greater comfort.” Bradley is reluctant to name manufacturers who use products and parts PolyOne helped develop. However, “if you take factory tours, you’ll see a lot of boxes labeled ‘PolyOne Distribution,’” he said, pointing out the boxes are not just in large manufacturing facilities. “We get into this situation when we talk to smaller customers who react with, ‘Oh, you’re part of a multinational, global corporation; you don’t have time for me.’ I say, ‘Yes, we’re a global business, but what do you think our average order size is?’ The customer will say, ‘Oh, it’s got to be millions.’ I say, ‘No, it’s generally less than $5,000, and we ship the same or next day.’ That usually gets them to open up and say, ‘I understand; you do have the time and resources to help me,’” Bradley said. PolyOne Distribution represents all the major polymer producers, which, according to Bradley, provides manufacturers with a wide range of options — and solutions. “The value we bring is helping customers find a specific solution to a problem, or problems, they’re trying to address so they can grow their businesses and become more profitable,” Bradley said. To learn more, visit www.polyone.com/ options. 9 PolyOne’s ads ask, “What if” and offer to, “Make it possible.” 34 NOVEMBER 2011 Subscribe to SI DIGITAL www.shootingindustry.com