New Ownership Leading to Continued Growth

MPL Corporation

MPL Corporation proudly serves the hospitality, multi-family, student housing, military, healthcare, and senior housing industries with full, durable tub and shower systems. For twenty-five years, it has used only the highest quality raw materials and unique production processes that give its products the ability to endure the challenges that come with a heavy construction site.
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The company’s customer feedback says it all: the company is easier to work with, and it offers higher quality products with premium features that are delivered on time and at a competitive price.

From its base in Fairland, Indiana, MPL Corporation has been manufacturing cast polymer bathtub and shower surrounds, shower bases, and shower accessories since 1962. As an early pioneer in the cast polymer industry, it was one of the first companies in the United States to offer cultured marble. By partnering with a separate company that makes glass shower doors, it can provide entire shower systems.

In 1993, MPL shifted its focus to the hospitality industry and has developed a reputation throughout the country for its ability to accomplish large projects. The company experienced a change in ownership approximately one year ago, and the previous owner Tom Crowley had fortunately laid the groundwork for a successful transition. He already set the tone for the brand and prepared the way for significant future improvement.

The new owners did not have to make any radical changes and are now working towards bringing in more resources and reinvesting to support the company’s growth. “The new ownership has reinvigorated our mindset. From investing in our infrastructure and key tooling to hiring key personnel and supplying the vision for moving forward, our current ownership is dedicated to making MPL the best company it can be,” says MPL Corporation National Sales Director Sean Jacobs.

MPL has one manufacturing facility and one office building where it employs 125 dedicated people. “They are the hardest working, friendliest bunch of characters you’ll ever meet,” says Sean. “Always walking around with a smile on their face in a manufacturing facility where it can be dusty, loud and a bit chaotic, and they carry around a great attitude while putting forth a phenomenal product.” Working in a fabrication environment can be wearing for many individuals. However, being surrounded by people who have positive attitudes is a good boost for morale, and it makes the workplace a more enjoyable place to be every day.

“We have a very low turnover, and a lot of the employees in the manufacturing plant have been here for a long time. They are very experienced in what they do, and they take great pride in their work,” says MPL Vice President of Sales Jennifer Heath. This experience begins with the independent sales representatives who fully comprehend project details and requirements, allowing them to properly coordinate project orders, delivery, and installation, efficiently moving product through the various stages of the project as one smooth operation.

The manufacturing plant performs continuously, between four and six days a week to serve its numerous customers including the Marriott International, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Hotels Group, Choice Hotels International Inc., and La Quinta Inns & Suites. “I’ve been in a lot of different plants, and I have never seen a total organization work as hard as this group does,” says MPL President Bob Claxton.

Apart from the hospitality industry, the company’s diverse customers include multi-family residence and senior living construction sectors, and it is now embarking on growing further in the student housing and military markets.

MPL has experienced double-digit growth over the last few years, and its services have expanded to reach all of the United States and into Canada. It doubled the size of its manufacturing plant in Fairland, Indiana in 2016, and last year, it opened a satellite building for the same headquarters.

Unlike most companies within the construction industry, MPL does not have difficulty developing its workforce. Its high retention rate has created a very reliable workforce, and when there is a position available, its own employees are quick to recruit additional prospective candidates to join the team. This has enabled it to attract newcomers who are truly interested in the position and consider it to be more than just a job. This process has also allowed many family members and friends to have the opportunity to work together in a positive work environment.

The primary challenge is in keeping up with delivering its products. “As with any manufactured product being shipped to a job site, scheduling is imperative; we must continually update our shipping dates and be communicating with the on-site project managers on a daily basis to provide our products exactly when they need them. Our outside sales reps and internal office personnel do a great job of this,” says Sean.

MPL is known for doing everything possible to accommodate its customers, and being easy to work with is the reason it receives a great deal of repeat business and referrals. “The greatest reward is gaining the confidence of our customers and receiving referrals from them. It happens every day,” says Sean.

Part of what makes this company better than its competition is its shorter lead times and its ability to partner with customers to provide the desired result. It does not stock any finished materials, yet it has the shortest lead times in the industry. Being incredibly flexible with its customers can at times come at a cost, yet the company considers that to be money well spent since the outcome tends to be increased sales and more dedicated customers to follow.

MPL’s diverse range of products and colors can be chosen for a variety of projects, and its experienced specialists are prepared to assist customers in choosing the exact pattern, style, and color that suits their needs. Potential customers have the option of requesting samples of the colors offered by filling out a form online, and those samples will be delivered within two weeks. The company can also manufacture custom bathtubs and showers to a customer’s exact specifications rather than the standard options. Products are all manufactured in the United States, and it uses as many local suppliers as possible.

The company launched a major internal initiative in the third quarter of last year to improve its packaging to assure it can move its product from point A to point B without any damage. The product is often installed on a heavy industrial construction site, and in many cases, the crating gets mishandled. MPL listened to its customers’ opinions and discovered better packaging solutions with alternative materials and different ways of assembling the product. The effort to create industry leading protective crating has proven to be very successful; it tracks its re-work orders stemming from freight damage, and the numbers have dropped to nearly zero.

The company regularly adds new products and accessories to its product line. Two improved features are its color-matching silicone that ensures a pleasing result by matching a variety of product selections and a 4″ x 8″ tile pattern that has the look and feel of real grout.

MPL is excited about the future of the company as it expands into other markets while continuing to serve its loyal hotel customers. This year, it will be drafting plans for another expansion that is scheduled to take place in 2020.

Industry Changemakers

The construction industry has historically been slow to evolve, drawn to tradition over technology. As the industry is in a state of rapid innovation and advancement, organizations like the Toronto Construction Association (TCA) are working tirelessly to build strong member businesses that won’t fall behind.

June 18, 2019, 4:20 PM EDT