Everywhere he goes, Daven Claerbout takes notice of plastic products — including the quality and whether his company, Dutchland Plastics, was the manufacturer.
Claerbout is co-owner and director of business development at Dutchland, based in Oostburg, Wis., about 40 miles north of Milwaukee. The rotational plastics molder, which makes an array of products including coolers and kayaks, has been part of Claerbout’s world for most of his life.
“I was 9, and my brother Carl was 11, when our father got into this,” Claerbout said.
Rotational molding can be used to produce complex plastic parts that have features such as intricate contours, inserts and double walls. In 2014, Dutchland was ranked by Plastics News as the 20th largest rotational molder in North America.
In 2015, the company received the Product of the Year award from the Association of Rotomolders. The award was for an ice vending machine manufactured for Leer Inc., based in Madison.
Dutchland has about 280 employees, down from 320 eight years ago. The privately held company had more than $38 million in sales in 2015, up nearly 30 percent from 2008.
If the recession taught manufacturers anything, Claerbout said, it was to work smarter through continuous improvement.
“More than 50 percent of our people have been here 10 years or more, so we have a really good core group of employees,” Claerbout said.
Dutchland has grown by identifying products made from metal and convincing the product companies that plastic parts are better, Claerbout said. Among its products: Yeti coolers that can keep items frozen up to 48 hours and are popular with hunters and fishermen; NuCanoe and Emotion kayaks; and the Sway Lounge Chair for Green Bay’s KI Furniture.