The acrylics manufacturer has taken its operations from a windowless factory to the top floor of the Buggyworks building in the Arena District.
Plaskolite describes itself as the largest manufacturer of thermoplastic sheets in North America. It has been in the plastics business since 1950, when a WW2 veteran named Donald Dunn bought a machine and started to make drinking straws, then hula hoops, then fly swatters—and eventually the acrylic material it now produces. After years of working out of the Joyce Avenue plant, the Plaskolite headquarters has moved from that factory to the Arena District.
Dan Draper, Plaskolite's marketing director, says that the company wished for the design of the new office to match the brand—a classic and reserved company. For that reason, colors are muted around the office. “Our style is black and white,” he explains. “It reflects our traditional [vibe]. We are not flashy—even though our products are beyond colorful and can be used in art and sculptures and signs—we are very reserved and traditional.” Three things adding a bit of color to the office are the warm brown of the wide wooden beams from the original Buggyworks build, colorful landscape paintings punctuating walls, and a row of bright pictures depicting the many uses of Plaksolite's product.
Going from factory to Downtown office has brought with it some new experiences. Draper says that lunch options abound in the Arena District, whereas the Joyce Avenue plant wasn't even a delivery option much of the time. He says people also go for walks—but that isn't the only exercise option. Having the new space has prompted employees to think of new and creative uses for it, such as lunchtime yoga in the large training room. “When you get the space, then you can come up with the ideas,” says Draper. Even something as simple as windows is a revelation for employees in the office. Draper describes a day of meetings at the Joyce Avenue plant, saying that sometimes people wouldn't even know it had been raining all day because there were no windows in the conference room or in many of the offices. Now, offices and conference rooms alike are full of them.
Some things about the new office are the same as the old. There is still a fitness room, and the Plaskolite doctor still sees all employees for physicals and other needs—he has his own office in both locations. Conference rooms pay homage to the room at Joyce Avenue, which was filled with pictures of historical leaders. Now, conference rooms in the new office are named after them. The old bulletin board was carried over too, except that it is now a television screen instead of cork.
Donald Dunn, the 95-year-old founder of Plaskolite, an earner of the Silver Star medal for valor, still visits once a week. He has a permanent tribute in the kitchen in the form of a mural honoring his time in the military. Draper says Dunn loves the new space.
“We have our factory on Joyce Avenue on the east side,” Draper says. “We have nine other factories in the U.S., Mexico and Europe, and we needed a space that was representative of our growth and who we were. We wanted to show off.”