Commentary: Hoffer Plastics stands tall with veteran community

Nov. 9, 2020
The way the Illinois-based injection molder makes a point of hiring veterans, and the way its employees rallied to support one of their own during his deployment shows how deeply that commitment is held.

Kudos to injection molding company Hoffer Plastics Corp

The South Elgin, Ill., company recently welcomed home Army Sergeant Keith Kuhns after an eight-month deployment with his National Guard unit in Afghanistan. 

Hoffer Plastics has made hiring veterans a priority, but does much more to support those who deploy to combat zones. The company regularly sent care packages, members of his department at Hoffer kept in touch with letters and photos, and after the deployment Kuhns was given time to settle in before returning to his job as a technician.

“It meant so much that my colleagues would send me these packages,” Kuhns said in a press release distributed by Hoffer Plastics. “While they contained what many would define as common goods, many of us didn’t have access to these items where we were stationed. It went to show that they were more than just a workplace. One of Hoffer’s core values is ‘family’ — treating everyone as if they were family — and it couldn’t be more true.”

Kuhns was hired as a molding technician. He applied to become an apprentice in the mold room but his three-year course of study was interrupted by the deployment. He has now resumed that classroom study.

Kuhns spent eight years in the Marines and has been in the National Guard for nine years. He has been deployed six times.

Charlotte Canning, Hoffer’s VP of Brand and Culture, said the company has always tried to hire veterans. “We continue to see veterans thrive at Hoffer because of their innate ability to work in a dynamic and team-oriented environment where they are trained to find innovative solutions, problem solve and provide outstanding outcomes,” she said.

Canning said Hoffer has made hiring veterans in its tooling, maintenance, automation and general manufacturing departments a top priority for the company in 2021.

This story has special meaning to me. I spent several years on active duty in the Army and many years in the Army Reserves. I can’t tell you how many times my young Army Reserve soldiers returned from deployments to find that their civilian job had been given to someone else and their employer did not have another job for them. Some employers would even tell a soldier that if he went on a deployment he would lose his job. 

There is a federal law that gives National Guard and Reserve soldiers re-employment rights, but it can be difficult to enforce.

Hoffer Plastics is a great example of an employer doing more than required to support its employees. The company currently employs six veterans who have served a combined 43.5 years. Two of the six are currently serving in the National Guard.

Wednesday is Veterans Day. Be sure to salute Hoffer Plastics and all the companies that actively recruit and employ veterans.

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Ron Shinn, editor

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About the Author

Ron Shinn | Editor

Editor Ron Shinn is a co-founder of Plastics Machinery & Manufacturing and has been covering the plastics industry for more than 35 years. He leads the editorial team, directs coverage and sets the editorial calendar. He also writes features, including the Talking Points column and On the Factory Floor, and covers recycling and sustainability for PMM and Plastics Recycling.