Who are you and what is your background?
I’m Mark Rathbone, CEO of PTI Engineered Plastics. I was born in Detroit and raised in Clinton Township. I attended Chippewa Valley High School, class of 1970. I started in the mold-making trade while attending high school, and enrolled in an apprenticeship program through Macomb Community College during the early seventies. In my earlier years, I worked in mold design, mold making, and manufacturing process engineering. In 1984, I started my own business which operated under the name of Proto-Tech Industries until 1987. Proto-Tech Industries produced functional prototype molds and injection molded samples before changing our name to PTI Engineered Plastics. The name change was driven to better reflect the turnkey, mind to manufacturing operation that PTI is today. In 2010, PTI expanded its industrial design capabilities with the launch of PTI Design, an in-house design studio that specializes in product innovation and development.
What sets you or your organization apart from others in your industry?
PTI is able to standardize many of the mold making and manufacturing processes. This allowed for faster throughput. With our technical capabilities to build injection mold tooling in-house, we provide the turnaround time of a prototype, but with a low volume tool that meets the expectations of a production quality tool.
What do you see as the most important aspect of leadership? Explain why.
I feel the most important aspect of leadership is in the word itself. It starts with a passion for your business and a sincere appreciation of your team. People will follow a leader that knows what they’re doing and is working alongside them.
How do you inspire your team or clients?
I believe team inspiration starts with top level management. Those who have worked with me through the years know I strive to provide an inspiring environment with a goal of consistency. People desire to work for a company that has a clear direction, and a solid framework for success. We look to employ passionate people, and our customers experience a high level of commitment from every member of our team.
What inspires you to go to the next level?
The next level means different things to different people. PTI started out 35 years ago with two employees, and today we have more than 350 employees. The industry of mold making and plastic injection molding has transformed by leaps and bounds over the past 40 years. When we started out 35 years ago, we used hand-operated milling machines and valve adjusted hydraulic molding machines. Today we’re looking at 4.0 smart technologies for advancements in our industry. When you have a passion for this business and embrace new technology, it inspires everyone, and fuels the fire that takes your company to the next level.
What is more important to you in business, statistics or instinct?
For me almost everything starts with instincts, and those instincts develop into processes. To be successful those processes must be measureable; therefore, instincts and statistics must work hand-in-hand. Instincts are what drive you, and statistics keep you on track.
Did you have a mentor? If yes, who and how did you meet?
I did not have a mentor, but many people I met in this trade inspired me. I was fortunate enough to work with several old-school German toolmakers. These men were artists creating three-dimensional geometry from a two-dimensional world.
Are you involved on any boards or in any organizations you would like to mention?
PTI does belong to a few organizations, none that needs mentioning, but what is important to mention is our PTI Technical Academy.
In 2014, PTI launched an exciting new initiative, and the first of its kind for Macomb – The PTI Technical Academy (PTA). The Technical Academy is free and designed to introduce the fundamentals of the manufacturing industry to high school students’ grades 10-12, who may wish to pursue a technical career path after graduation. Our goal is to design and implement education and skill building programs, which will not only strengthen our workforce, but increase the skilled labor force in the community as a whole.
Our objective with the PTA is to educate the mind, shape the character and develop the creativity of our community’s youth. Through this program, we hope to demonstrate the promising and fulfilling career opportunities in Manufacturing, and bring awareness and excitement back to the industry that shaped America.
Why did you establish, expand, relocate or introduce your organization in Macomb County?
I established my business in Macomb because my roots are in Macomb County, and it just seemed natural to start my business here. Over the past 35 years I have had six different locations within Macomb County, from Clinton Township to Shelby, and finally Macomb.