Best Practices from a Flexible Film Converter: All in the Family
Not only is South Florida-based Sixto Packaging family owned and operated, but it also puts an emphasis on customer service – specifically in treating clients like family.
Fast lead times. Emphasis on customer service. Short to medium runs. No red tape.
Those are just four of the pillars that have made Sixto Packaging a staple in the South Florida economy — and packaging community as a whole – for the past 45-plus years. Sixto isn’t a big converter. In fact, it falls within the small to mid-sized category. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the third-generation family owned and operated company (four generations of Sixtos actually presently work for the company) is at a disadvantage.
“A converter of our size can respond quickly to customer requests,” Felipe E. Sixto, director of sales, says of the Cuban-American company. “We can turn projects around from start to finish in what some larger converters would take to quote.
“In today’s market situation, with mergers and acquisitions gobbling up small and mid-sized converters, we strive to set ourselves apart. We believe that our ‘old-fashioned’ family service-oriented approach to running our business allows us to cut the red tape and respond to customers quickly.”
Sixto was founded in the late 1960s, beginning with FMC Simplex bag machines that it used to convert cellophane bags for small local consumers. As time went on, these customers began requesting print, so Sixto added that to its repertoire as well. The company added lamination in the 1980s and purchased a solventless laminator in 1999. Today, Sixto laminates aluminum foil for the likes of coffee, industrial, medical and other food applications on a daily basis. It also regularly completes high-barrier laminations with substrates including paper, foil, lidding films and more. Additionally, it offers shrink sleeves and roll stock and has been converting pouches for several decades.
Specifically, the standup pouch is a packaging format that the company has continued to invest in over the years.
“As the growth in standup pouches has dramatically increased, we’ve had to invest in machinery,” Sixto says. “We produce pouches for an array of industries, particularly seafood, confectionary and produce. We have several pouch lines producing several styles of pouches and we know that with continued growth another pouch machine will be needed in the future.”
One such investment has been the purchase of a Hudson-Sharp Inno-Lok machine, which applies zipper transversely to the film to produce a roll of pre-zippered film. Before acquiring the machine, Sixto subcontracted out the service. Bringing it in house has allowed the company to expand its presence, particularly in the frozen food, produce and pet food markets.
Flashback to 2012 for example — the year that Meel Corp. purchased the Tropicland brand of frozen vegetables. At the time, the product was being packaged in pre-made surface-printed polybags. After consulting with the owner and marketing team, Sixto modified the packaging to a laminated roll stock with Inno-Lok zipper. The high-end graphics coupled with the convenience factor of the zipper not only increased Meel Corp’s sales, but also reduced packaging costs since there was no longer a need for expensive zipper attachments.
“We are extremely diverse in the markets we manufacture for,” Sixto says. “Our real niche and specialty is high-barrier, value-added applications — Inno-Lok roll stock, standup pouches, items requiring 3- and 4-ply laminations, particularly with foil.”
Market diversity and continued investments, along with the four company pillars noted previously, has allowed Sixto to experience year-after-year growth, a feat which has landed the company on INC’s 2015 “5,000 Fastest Growing Companies in America” list. (The Florida Business Journal also ranks Sixto among the fastest-growing privately held companies in the state of Florida.) Just how fast is Sixto growing? According to the company, it expects annual sales to more than double within the next five years.
While all four company pillars are significant, there may be none more significant than Sixto’s focus on customer service. It’s why the likes of Badia Spices, Café Pilon and Ara Foods have been Sixto customers for over 40 years. It’s also a big reason behind Sixto’s growth and newer business partners, which include a range of Fortune 500 companies to startups.
“We view ourselves as not just a supplier or vendor, but a strategic partner in our customers’ business,” Sixto says. “We get to know our customers, their packaging, their process, and, ultimately, their product. Because we are a family owned and operated company, we cut through the red tape. Decisions are made quickly and strategically. Customers can reach key personnel quickly and get answers.”
Location: Opa Locka, FL
Services: Pouch making, flexographic printing, shrink sleeves, laser perforating, laminating
Equipment: One Inno-Lok machine, two 8-color flexographic presses, one 6-color flexo press, three pouch machines, two solventless laminators, shrink sleeve equipment. A 10-color flexo press is set to be delivered by the end of 2015.
Markets: Food, Beverage, Nutraceutical, Personal Care, Household Care