Polo Custom Products celebrates 75 years with Topeka expansion plans
Polo Custom Products celebrates 75 years in a growing market.
Polo Custom Products, 3601 SW 29th, is a Topeka-based contract manufacturer that designs, engineers, and manufactures custom products and components for original equipment manufacturing in the medical, industrial, fire and safety, and government and defense.
Kent Lammers, president and CEO of Polo Custom, said early in his tenure the company produced items that would be non-essential today, such as checkbook covers and cushion covers.
“Our company’s footprint now extends across the globe. Years ago this was not the case.” said Lammer.
A new manufacturing building will be constructed in Topeka
In early July, JEDO board members approved a cash incentive of $98,900 to help expand Polo Custom Products.
The incentive will establish a new manufacturing plant in the capital. Lammers said it will bring “growth to head office”
Currently, Polo Custom Products has two manufacturing plants. The first was established in 1969 in Monticello, Iowa. The second, established in 2000 in Louisville, Mississippi.
“Now we have three manufacturing sites, which helps us meet labor demands to manufacture our products,” Lammers said.
The Capital Journal reports the project was to involve a capital investment of $700,000 and create several new full-time jobs with an average salary of $59,000, plus benefits. The company intends, under the project, to provide training for up to 60 existing positions.
Currently, the company employs “approximately 430” at existing facilities and corporate headquarters.
Polo Custom Products is changing its workplace culture
Lammers said he believes when employees enjoy what they do while working, they will advance their expertise.
“I never want anyone at any of our facilities to dread coming to work,” he said. “It’s always been an important staple, but I think it’s more prevalent now.”
The evolution of expertise has led the company to an “associate-driven culture” and a work environment that is not just about authority. The contribution of innovative ideas and “diverse opinions” within the team led to the products provided.
“I’ve never been disappointed to include the team in discussions,” Lammers said. “I accept that. They need to be comfortable telling me things I don’t want to hear. That’s how we improve.”
Polo Custom Products was founded in 1947 as Polo Plastics. For the 75th anniversary celebration, each associate of the company was to receive a gift related to the company’s “Associate Appreciation Day”, thanking everyone for their service.
Lammers said he and other company executives meet with each new hire to create a welcoming atmosphere for new hires.
“So they can see who the leadership is, and it’s not just some mysterious entity in Topeka, Kansas,” he said. “And that’s proven invaluable. They love it. There’s a responsibility there when they see me and some of the other executives.
“It’s just exciting to be able to stay in the community that gave Polo an opportunity.”
Keishera Lately is a business reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. She can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @Lately_KT.