Regal Plastics

Regal PlasticsRegal Plastics’ triple-pronged business approach keeps it ahead of its competition.

By Jim Harris

Regal Plastics’ ability to offer distribution, retail and fabrication services under one roof is its biggest market differentiator.

The Irving, Texas-based company considers itself “three businesses in one,” with each aspect of its operation serving a different client base and offering different services. “Our competitors don’t do that – they have chosen to go one way or the other, but we choose to do all three,” Vice President and General Manager Wayne Gono says.

Regal Plastics’ business-to-business distribution operation offers plastic sheets, rods and tubes to customers in the industrial, construction and other markets. Customers include manufacturers that use the plastics supplied by the company as raw material for their own products. “The plastics market is very diversified – there’s hardly a industry that doesn’t use plastic,” he adds.

The company also does a significant amount of business with contractors via architects that specify the products it carries. Regal Plastics also seeks out opportunities to help its customers replace paper, wood, metal and glass in their projects and operations. “We look at those materials as the enemy – that’s what we want to conquer,” Gono says. “We want to replace those substrates with plastics.”

To achieve this goal, the company regularly hosts educational sessions with architects and others to explain the advantage of using plastics. The benefits of plastics depends on the type of applications they’re being used in, but can include durability and transparency as well as its lighter weight in comparison to other materials, Gono adds.

‘True Craftsmen’

In addition to serving B2B customers, each of Regal Plastics’ six locations in Texas and Louisiana features retail counters and showrooms offering products directly to consumers. The company’s facilities include its 60,000-square-foot corporate headquarters in Irving, which it opened three years ago following the consolidation of operations in Dallas and Fort Worth. Retail customers include homeowners performing “do-it-yourself” projects, which Gono says is a large market for the company. Regal Plastics box

All of the company’s locations also offer fabrication – its third business offering. Custom fabrication services make up roughly 35 percent of Regal Plastics’ total business. Regal Plastics operates CNC equipment and uses computer-aided design (CAD) to make its customers’ requests a reality.

“We have very talented people in our fabrication area,” Gono says. “They are artists and true craftsmen, and many of them have been with us forever. If you have a good imagination, we can probably create something out of plastic for you.”

The new location in Irving reflects Regal Plastics’ willingness to regularly invest in its operations. The company this October will launch a brand-new website its retail and B2B customers can use to order its products online. Regal Plastics also recently added a social media marketing manager to help it greatly increase its presence online, he adds.

The company works closely with a number of vendors and vendor partners in all of its operations. Regal Plastics last year hired a vendor relations manager whose duty is to preserve its business relationships. “I consider a true vendor partner to be someone who cares about our business as much as we do,” Gono says, noting that several of these partners offer the company material on a consignment basis. “They make sure we have what we need on our floor when we need it, and at a price we want to pay for it.”

‘Not the Bad Guys’

Architects, contractors and other clients are not the only people the company regularly educates on the benefits of plastics. As a member of the International Association of Plastics Distribution (IAPD) – for which Gono serves on its board of directors – Regal Plastics is involved in political lobbying efforts.

“One of the biggest things we’ve taken on as an association and company is having a bigger presence in Washington, D.C.,” he says. “Most of the time, plastics has a bad name in the world – the products we offer are lumped in the same category of bottles, bags and other things that are sitting in landfills or at the bottom of the oceans. We want to show that we are not the bad guys.”

None of the plastic fabricated or distributed by the company is sent to landfills after use. “Just on our own, we reuse or recycle millions of tons [of plastic],” Gono adds.

The company and its fellow IAPD members – several of which are direct competitors to Regal Plastics – regularly fly to the nation’s capital to meet with U.S. senators and representatives to discuss the impact of environmental legislation on the industry. The IAPD has formed political action committees dedicated to lobbying efforts.

“We’re just trying to educate legislators about the issues they’re voting on,” Gono says. “Through the association, we all work together to grow the industry in order to have more business, and that can be fun to do alongside your competitors.”

A Secure Future

Regal Plastics traces its history back to the 1940s, when plastics were just beginning to go into wide use in the United States. Gono’s father-in-law, a close family friend of the company’s founder, started a branch of the operation in Texas in 1969. The Texas/Louisiana branch uses the same name and logo as the original Regal Plastics, which is based in Kansas City, but the two companies are owned by different families, Gono notes.

The company’s status as a family owned company has given it a positive culture based on the core values of “be all in, be positive, have integrity, be proactive and be willing to learn, improve and grow,” Gono says. “We hire, fire, promote and give bonuses and pay increases based on these. We really believe in instilling these values in everyone in the company.”

The future of Regal Plastics is secure, as Wayne Gono’s son and daughter recently became involved in the business. “There’s a small percentage of companies that continue from generation to generation,” he says. “The fact that we will makes me and my wife very proud – our children are doing a better job at this than we are!”

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