PortionPac: The World's Coolest Chemical Company
At a remarkable factory on Chicago's Near West Side, Beatriz Perez fills plastic packs with floor cleaner.
PortionPac Chemical is a 46-year old business that produces cleaning products primarily used by janitors.
This month, PortionPac is celebrated at one of the Top Small Company Workplaces in America, according to Inc. magazine and Winning Workplaces.
The company prides itself on a familial atmosphere and low employee turnover.
Plants thrive in the ample natural sunlight giving the entire factory the feel of a greenhouse.
Ferns co-exist alongside drums of chemicals, giving the facility an atmosphere like the island on Lost.
Relative newbies chemical mixer Jeff Carroll (six years) and plant engineer Matt Giles (four years) appreciate the emphasis on quality-of-life issues in the factory.
Employees who bike to work enjoy the ultimate in safe storage.
The machines are designed to run quietly; Employees are able to chat while they work.
Marvin Klein (left) and Warren Weisberg represent two generations of the two families that created PortionPac.
PortionPac’s front office looks more Silicon Valley than industrial Chicago.
There’s nothing bland or corporate about the 100 or so pieces of original art that decorate the offices.
All of the art is part of Weisberg’s personal collection.
One glance at the atrium and you know you’re in a different kind of chemical company. For that very reason, PortionPac’s headquarters were featured in Architectural Digest.
Most of PortionPac's products are concentrates, which saves on shipping costs, and requires less material. Water is later added by the janitor.
Warren Weisberg designed and built all of the equipment used in the factory. Most recently, he built a machine that automated the filling and sealing of envelopes. He scrapped the idea after deciding he trusts humans more than machines to perform quality control.
Weisberg also chose not to use a machine he designed to automate the package-filling process in part because he didn’t want to automate people out of jobs.
Longevity is a byword at PortionPac. Average employee tenure is 13 years, and the company retains the first customer it ever signed.
Out of respect for family life, PortionPac never runs three shifts.
A few years ago, at the workers' request, the company also moved the quitting time back to 3:30 p.m. so parents could get home earlier to their kids.
The company's owners pride themselves on taking care of their workers both inside the factory and beyond its walls.
Weisberg, Marvin, and Burt Klein, the company's president (right), have rescued employees in every kind of trouble.
The company's executives have lent workers money for new cars, prevented an eviction, and even paid for the funeral of a family member.
That, in turn, has made PortionPac a family business in more ways than one. Trini Linares (center) and four of her daughters have worked together here a dozen years.
The entire workplace has a communal atmosphere. In many cases several family members work together at the plant, with parents recommending the place to their children, and siblings recruiting siblings.
Weisberg and Marvin Klein consider plant staff like Irma Carrillo (left) and Mary Jaramillo their best source of ideas.
"It is a nice place," says one worker at the chemical factory, "and we love being all together here."