Freeland secured her first major client, the Department of Commerce, with a five-year, $10 million contract.
Today, the firm has 250 employees (her husband, Richard, is COO), and clients that include the Department of the Navy and the State Department. In 1998, revenues were $10.4 million. The firm has tripled in size in the past three years.
"My goal is to become a $100 million company by 2003," says Freeland, the mother of six-year-old twins. "We’ll achieve that goal with aggressive marketing, by challenging employees to do above and beyond what is expected of them and by forming strategic alliances with partners."
BUSINESS INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR
The Business Innovator of the Year Award recognizes individuals who have successfully set trends and broken new ground in their respective industries.
President and CEO
Paper-Plas Converting Inc.
Donald Snider is quite familiar with the term "going out on a limb."
During his lifetime, the 47-year-old has been a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchisee, a science teacher, a gas station attendant and an account manager for Randolph-General Medical, a medical supply company in Livonia, Michigan. In 1992, he was introduced to the paper conversion business as a consultant for Midwest Paper in Detroit, and was soon on the road to owning his own business.
Snider became interested in manufacturing, and learned that Midwest Paper had gone into bankruptcy in 1994. He attempted to purchase the converting division of the firm, but the selling price was too high. One year later, Snider made a successful bid, but he didn’t have the capital to purchase the company. Undaunted, he changed his strategy; if he could convince one of the Big Three auto makers that he could produce packaging paper (used to protect auto glass during shipping), one of them would finance his new business. As it turned out, Midwest had supplied most of its paper to Chrysler, which was looking for another minority firm to take over the contract.
"You have to sell yourself to those automotive companies you want to do business with," Snider says.
"If you fail, they don’t want it to come back on them. It prevents them from giving other opportunities to other minorities."
After many months of wooing, Snider landed a five-year contract worth $750,000. But one problem still remained. He didn’t have a facility or the equipment to fulfill Chrysler’s contract. Through loans and borrowing against his credit cards, Snider was able to finance a building himself and equip it with the machines he needed to produce automotive packaging materials. Paper-Plas Converting Inc. was born in 1995.
"I had a card table for a desk, four employees and my sister Valerie typed my invoices," recalls Paper Plas’ president and CEO, who today heads up a $3 million, 40-employee firm with facilities in Michigan and Wisconsin. The Michigan facility provides conversion of paper products for shipping and packaging, customized chipboard, corrugated sheeting, coated