Part 2 of MAPP's New Member Series - a Weekly Spotlight of MAPP Members and the Leaders Who Keep Things Running
Visionary (noun) – A person who thinks about or plans the future with imagination or a person with original ideas about what the future will or could be like.
The word “visionary” isn’t typically present on a job title, but then again, very little about Patricia Miller, CEO + visionary, or MATRIX 4 that is common in the plastics industry. Miller, 36, began her career in Fortune 500 companies. And in 2014, when Miller decided to head back home to Woodstock, IL, to take over her grandfather’s nearly 40-year old business, a visionary is exactly what the struggling organization needed.
“I was ready to create in a different way,” explains Miller. “My grandpa owned MATRIX 4, and it was dying. I wanted to see if we could make a dead cat bounce and leverage depreciated assets and do a restart with a fresh lens on manufacturing in the US.”
MATRIX 4, founded in 1976, focused on the four phases of manufacturing: design, engineering, tooling and manufacturing. Under Miller’s leadership, the company has invested in becoming more innovative, more adaptable and flexible, and focuses on running like a “40 year-old startup.” During her 4-year tenure at MATRIX 4, the company has already seen significant growth in sales and team members, dramatically increasing sales and growing from a staff of 10 to roughly 50 today. The company was recently featured on the 2017 and 2018 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies.
However, without a traditional manufacturing background, Miller has invested in hiring talented people to assist in the company’s continued growth. In just the past several years, MATRIX 4 has hired all of the key functional areas of the business including manufacturing, quality, operations, finance, engineering and HR areas of the business.
For many CEOs delegating key operational leadership roles can be nearly impossible. However Miller describes her job as much more of a hybrid role. “I engage in culture, strategy and relationships. I have some engagement in operations and the business from a higher level, but I am excited that I have an awesome team that drives the majority of that. I am a visionary and know where I play best and find the most joy.”
Her strategy has allowed Miller the ability to live up to the old adage of “working on the business, not in the business.” In terms of what does bring her the most joy, Miller responds “Making! I love to make – things that matter, jobs, culture, relationships, and the economy locally.”
This love of making is now embedded in MATRIX 4’s culture. The company is described as a “customer-centric design and manufacturing house – makers of plastics.” Their website even boasts, “We Love to make. Inspired by inventors, we aspire to foster creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit by supporting the small maker who may not be at volumes yet, and support the large maker looking for high-touch collaboration and partnership.” Miller explains that the company wants to continue to work as a start-up, with the agility and talent to “Grow Boldly,” a strategic goal for the organization.
Miller has a dedication to building relationships and plans to continue fostering strong relationships with clients and partners over the next 12 months. With MATRIX 4’s diverse customer base (cosmetic packaging, appliance, automotive, medical devices, and industrial products), the organization continues to concentrate on a product’s life cycle, from design and development, through full scale manufacturing, with a focus on continued, meaningful growth.
The company is well on their way, with recent investments in conveyors, pickers, robotics and energy-efficient dryers, as well as three new injection molding presses. The new automation and presses will allow the organization to run more efficiently and operate at a higher productivity than in the past. With a laser focus on developing strong relationships and growing in a meaningful way, MATRIX 4 and its team is building a new, original future for the organization.
MATRIX 4 has been a MAPP member since January 2018 and is a first in class, customer centric design and manufacturing house. MATRIX 4 takes a back of the napkin to out the door approach across design, engineering, tooling and manufacturing. Founded in 1976, MATRIX 4 is third generation, woman owned and operated. Process capabilities include injection mold press capacity of 75 to 850 tons, 3D printing, Solidworks CAD/CAM software and value added services. ISO 9001 (2015) Certified. Learn more about MATRIX 4 at www.matrix4.com.