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Matt Holloway: Leading from the manufacturing floor
A Plus Plastics is a great example of a family-owned and run Australian manufacturing business that has adapted with the changing landscape in Australian manufacturing.
Our Managing Director, Matt Holloway, followed in his father’s footsteps and now leads A Plus Plastics into its next era. His dad John started the original business under a different name in the 1970s, and after John sold the company then bought it back in the early noughties, Matt joined the family business in 2005.
Matt started on the factory floor as a Die Setter, before moving into an Injection Moulding Technician position. Taking this hands-on experience from the production floor, he then moved into a business development role. It is in this role where he uncovered a deep passion for the business side of the injection moulding and manufacturing industry.
This passion led to a leadership opportunity, and in 2009 Matt accepted the Managing Director role at A Plus Plastics. Over the last decade as Managing Director, Matt has focused on driving the business forward for sustained success.
“While I was learning on the shop floor, I headed to TAFE to complete my Diploma in Polymer Processing,” Matt explains. “So I got a trade, effectively, in polymer processing. From there I went into BDM in sales, and then simultaneously through that period I completed a business degree.
“When I became MD, the business was very exposed to contract moulding, which means we didn’t have a lot of our own products. We had some existing lines, but I really identified that we had a lot of risk exposure to manufacturing other people’s parts. Instead of manufacturing our own products and selling them, we were getting people’s dyes in here and acting as a service to them.”
Product diversification to reduce business risk
To address this exposure to contract moulding, and the possibility of A Plus Plastics’ clients moving to offshore manufacturing or to other local competitors, Matt and his management team repositioned the business to focus on growing its suite of owned products and developing and capitalising on market opportunities.
“The management team identified that we needed to put all our working capital into developing our own lines, which I went and did for the company. Now with a big sales team around the country, we sell our products through a distribution network,” says Matt.
It was during this period of diversification that A Plus Plastics’ innovative GEOHEX erosion control system was developed.
“Our first design didn’t quite cut it, but we really believed in it,” Matt recounts. “And we nailed it with GEOHEX Series II. It became a huge success for us once we perfected the design.”
Reimaging what a manufacturing business can be
The same innovative philosophy has now been applied across the rest of A Plus Plastics’ injection moulding business. So much so that Matt now describes the business as, “a marketing company that makes things”, rather than a, “contract moulding service that makes stuff”.
“The plastic injection moulding industry has changed enormously since my father started the business in the 1970s,” he reflects. “I’m really proud to have led the team into this new era, because there are so many gloom and doom stories about Australian manufacturing.
“Australian manufacturing businesses are continually going into voluntary administration. Take the car industry as an example. We once had a thriving Australian automotive manufacturing sector, and that’s all gone overseas. I believe that we can manufacture successfully in Australia and that companies like A Plus Plastics can continue to not just survive but thrive.”
About A Plus Plastics
A Plus Plastics’ manufacturing capabilities extend from the production of small and complex plastic components right through to large materials handling products. A leader in the plastics industry in the design and manufacture of rigid plastic containers for packaging, materials handling, supply chain, and logistics markets, along with design and production of plastic ground stabilisation solutions.