Power in small packages as DOE honors small businesses
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Power in small packages as DOE honors small businesses

Jul 09, 2023

A small business can still make a big impact. In addition to providing jobs and supporting their local communities, small businesses offer big advantages by being local alternatives that strengthen supply chains.

That's why the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization has annual awards recognizing agency officials' outreach to small companies, the organizations that work with those firms and the firms themselves.

For 2023, injection molder Seaway Plastics Engineering was named the Small Business of the Year by the DOE program.

"SPE stands out with [its] innovative solutions for improving on-time delivery … and [its] improvement of processes and service in support of DOE's mission," the energy agency said in a news release.

Port Ritchey, Fla.-based Seaway supplies the medical industry. In 2022, it was acquired by Intermediate Capital Group plc with a focus on growth through both internal improvements and acquisitions.

BASF, molder US Farathane and Toyota joined forces to create a one-piece injection molded seat structure for the 2024 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro model truck that cuts costs by 20 percent and reduces weight by 30 percent while still hitting front-row seat performance requirements.

Their work took the top award in the Enabling Technology category for the Altair Enlighten Award honoring projects that cut vehicles' weight. The award was presented at the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Mich.

The IsoDynamic Performance Seats use BASF Ultramid nylon in a single molded part that replaces 17 steel parts. The award comes a year after BASF teamed with Toyota, Flex-N-Gate and L&L Products on a composite seat back that won the 2022 Altair award.

Marelli, a molder of auto lighting, electronics and interior components, took the top Future of Lightweighting award in the Altair competition for developing a lightweight polyurethane foam for interior uses such as instrument panels.

How's your stress? Oh, sorry. Did my asking that just trigger another bit of stress because you suddenly had one more thing to think about?

We all know what that's like, I suspect. There are days you're so tapped out that it feels like an effort to even respond to a text or call from a friend. If it helps, you're not alone.

As part of our Women Breaking the Mold special report in this week's issue of Plastics News, we asked women who were nominated if their stress levels had changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most, 58 percent, said it was about the same, while about 25 percent said they were more stressed. I suspect, though, a lot of us identify with the 51 percent of nominees who said their work-life balance fluctuates between being balanced and struggling.

What is the biggest thing these women said could help improve the balance? Disconnecting from work phones and emails when they leave the office. I'm going to guess that's something we all know, but we also think we'll just check email one more time. Or we'll keep an eye on it so we're not overwhelmed by overflowing in box after vacation.

But maybe this weekend I'll try not to hit that email icon, just to see if makes a difference.

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