Nine million dollars. And counting. That’s how much Multifilm Packaging Corp., a manufacturer and converter of flexible packaging films based in Elgin, Ill., has invested in machinery and equipment since the management team took the company over in a leveraged buyout on May 1, 2008.
But as Olle Mannertorp, the company’s ceo explains, in order to stay competitive and address the packaging needs of today’s candy and snack segments, it was critical to upgrade Multifilm’s capabilities.
And the first order of business focused on improving printing capabilities, thus the acquisition and installation of a state-of-the-art, high-speed, flexographic press that’s capable of handling eight colors.
Other improvements quickly followed, including a new slitter and a de-metallizer for the company’s newly developed D-Met product. In a few weeks’ time, the installation of a five-layer cast extrusion line will start, and an additional eight-color, state-of-the-art flexo press is slated for installation in Spring 2011.
Moreover, the company also invested $1.2 million into a “one-of-a-kind” geothermal energy system designed to save $200,000 annually in electrical costs. (See sidebar) Such forward thinking stems, in part, from an aggressive growth plan, one that’s realized a 80% jump in sales since the team took over the reins. “We’ve almost doubled our sales in two-and-a-half years,” says Mannertorp. Acknowledging that such a pace would typically bring about “growing pains,” he pointed out that Multifilm escaped such aches.
“First, we work with really good customers, clients in markets for twist wrap and flow wrap packaging that we’ve served in the past,” Mannertorp explains. “We’re able to manufacture those products very well since our focus is in confectionery and snack. Our strength is in piece wrap, smaller packaging.” The company has also developed new films, such as UltraWrap and D-Met, that address segment needs, he adds.
UltraWrap acts similar to cellophane, the “gold standard” material used for twist wrapping candies. It not only performs as well as cellophane, but it also has a similar feel with “a strong visual appeal.”
In addition, it’s appealing to retailers who have implemented sustainable policies regarding packaging materials and the carbon footprint associated with that packaging. It’s also attractive to candy and snack manufacturers because of its lower cost. Another new capability that Multifilm Packaging brings to companies seeking to differentiate themselves from others is D-Met, a process used to remove metal from film, thereby creating a window in a metallized package.
“To our knowledge, Multifilm is the only domestic supplier capable of producing such structures,” adds Mannertorp.
Such new products, have helped Multifilm grow its business more cost efficiently and in a greener, cleaner way.
“Not only are we investing in improving our productivity, but we’re also investing in improving our carbon footprint,” he adds. As Marcus Magnusson, business development manager for Multifilm emphasizes, major retailers are demanding suppliers adhere to their sustainable guidelines.
Consequently, Multifilm has taken a proactive approach to the environment with its new geothermal installation. After all, today’s business landscape demands that “ecology and economy go hand in hand,” Mannertorp says. And although no one expects the company to sustain a yearly growth rate of 40%, Chris Rogers, the company’s v.p. of sales and marketing, believes that double-digit growth will continue through this and the coming years.
“It’s a matter of focusing on our core markets and our core products,” he says. Currently, 80% of the company’s sales originate within the confectionery sector, 15% from snacks and dry foods, with the remaining 5% classified as other. More than half (55%) of the company’s sales are from exports, mainly to Canada and Mexico. “Our markets will not disappear,” Mannertorp explains. “People will continue to eat candy. We also see further growth in the premium chocolate sector during the next five to 10 years.”
Count on Multifilm wrapping up that segment as well.