“It is our corporate culture to support our friends and neighbors in an effort to make the area — and our country — a better place,” says Jack Gawrys, proprietary sales coordinator for Confer.
One element of outreach that is important for Confer Plastics is being open to the community. “A lot of companies shut themselves off to the community at large and don’t allow plant tours,” Gawyrs says. “Confer Plastics, on the other hand, welcomes visitors. Our doors are open to community organizations for kids and adults alike. Plant tours typically last an hour, and they give the visitors a chance to see American manufacturing in operation.”
The list of support and donations that Confer provides within the community is long, too. Recently, the company began sponsoring scholarships at local colleges. Doug Confer, second-generation owner of the company, is an alumni of Alfred University in New York. In 2019, Doug’s son, Bob, surprised him with the Douglas Confer Scholarship at Alfred University, which awards $1,000 per scholastic year to incoming freshmen pursuing a business degree with an interest in manufacturing. A similar scholarship began in 2018 at The College at Brockport, New York, in honor of alum Bob Confer.
Confer Plastics’ focus on youth-driven projects doesn’t stop at college scholarships. The company’s biggest project is the Confer Plastics Classic Golf Tournament every June. Confer began organizing this event four years ago to benefit the Iroquois Trail Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which serves nearly 2,800 youth of Western New York, offering an outdoors-based program that focuses on character and leadership development.
Confer has raised about $60,000 for the organization over the last four years. Gawrys says starting the golf tournament was a reaction to declining enrollment and participation in the Boy Scouts of America, and that the funds raised have provided opportunity to further develop the programs the local troop offers.
Six Confer employees dedicate portions of their time to organize the tournament each year. The event is hosted at Willowbrook Country Club in Lockport, New York, which manages the set up, flow of the event and meals. More than 15 community members volunteer on the day of the event, and local neighbors, employees and business partners of Confer donate prize money and sponsor holes or contests.
The 2019 tournament had 145 golfers, up from 116 in previous years. There were more than 100 prizes for the raffle, which brought in $7,300. In 2019, the tournament raised $19,600, all donated to the Iroquois Trail Council, an increase of $6,000 over 2018.
“Kids are the future of our nation, and they are always the bright spot of the present,” Gawrys says. “We feel that our money is best served being spent on the young, giving them a chance to learn, play, succeed and rise above what the Western New York economy and political scene give them and their families.”