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Local employer named best in company

Urbana business made changes that helped it earn recognition.

The Orbis facility here was named the company’s 2013 plant of the year during a ceremony Tuesday, a designation that could give the facility an edge for future jobs and investment in the long run, according to company officials.

The Urbana plant, which employs about 300 people, would have been an unlikely recipient just a few years ago, several company officials said. But the facility has made significant improvements in profitability, on-time delivery, safety and other metrics in recent years, along with an improved relationship between management and employees.

The designation is important because it shows the confidence the company has in Urbana’s workforce when considering future investment, said Bill Ash, president of Orbis Corporation.

“It shows the confidence we have in this facility to make good use of the investments here,” Ash said.

Orbis produces reusable plastic containers and pallets for a variety of industries, including for food and storage and distribution companies. The Urbana plant works closely with the automotive industry.

The company has a corporate headquarters in Wisconsin but has locations in northern Ohio and Kentucky as well.

Ash credited both managers and employees at the local facility and said the site bought into Orbis’ Learning to Engage and Achieve on the Floor, or LEAF initiative. That management development program is designed to get employees more engaged in the workplace and reward achievements in the facility.

Marcia Bailey, economic development coordinator for Urbana, said the company has invested in the site recently, including adding new presses and installing a more efficient water system. While they could have bought the presses from a foreign company, Orbis instead chose to buy them from a Cincinnati company in order to keep the investment in the state, Bailey said.

“Those kinds of things speak volumes to the employees here,” Bailey said.

Orbis is a subsidiary of Menasha Corporation, the third-oldest manufacturing company in the U.S. According to information on its website, the company has more than 160 years of material handling experience and 55 years of working in the plastics industry.

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