Carving out specialties within strategic market segments — specifically those that require a supplier to do a little bit more to solve packaging challenges. That’s the mindset that Polymer Packaging has taken over its 29-year span to become a successful mid-sized converter. One packaging format that the company has particularly shined in developing is pouches for liquids, oil and lubricants, a move that was spearheaded by Polymer’s involvement in the drink alcohol pouch market.
“We saw oils and lubricants as an area where it took a special expertise in developing high-performance pouches that could withstand the rigors of various products with rather chemically aggressive content,” says Bill Lanham, Polymer Packaging president. “Products such as gas additives, adhesives, detergent oils and ethanol additives are difficult to package, and the pouches must perform well. It also was not a market everyone would attempt to penetrate. It took a lot of work to develop the film lamination structures that would perform, but we knew we had the ability to make excellent quality pouches that wouldn’t leak, so we put a lot of energy into these areas.”
Lanham describes the oil and lubricants space as “high-risk, high-reward” — and rightfully so. After all, a leaking pouch of any sort can cause a lot of damage and liability issues, so quality is an absolute must. But Polymer’s efforts in this area are paying off. It has commercialized an ethanol additive product in a single-use premade pouch, which has performed well, and has also created packaging for 2- and 4-stroke oils.
“Our philosophy is safety first, quality second, efficiency third,” Lanham says. “Any operator on any shift can shut down at any time if they see even the slightest anomaly in their process. Our quality has been Six Sigma level.”
Along those same lines, Polymer has also concentrated efforts in converting customer products from rigid packaging to flexible pouches with features such as special shapes to various functional fitments and caps to fit their specific product needs. Since this generally is a dramatic change for the customers’ normal core mode of packaging, to assist with the conversion process the company must use various contract packagers, filling machine suppliers and, in some cases, various printer/converters to develop a strategic plan to get a conversion completed correctly and quickly.
“One of the advantages to being a medium-sized specialty packaging supplier/converter is our ability to be nimble and flexible,” Lanham says. “Speed to market is everything today with all the private label and new product launches. We also are not afraid to partner with teams of people to get a project done. We look at our machines and facilities as just tools in our toolbox. If our tools work best for the customers’ needs, we use them. If not, we partner with our many partner converters to do all or part of the solution, along with our machine and co-packer suppliers to carry the entire project to completion faster and with the most comprehensive support possible.
“Because of our toll converting relationships with the many converter/printers we do work for, we have developed a strong level of mutual trust that allows us to jointly participate in getting the projects completed for the customer no matter who developed or initiated the opportunity.”
Polymer Packaging is headquartered in Massillion, Ohio, where it operates a 90,000-square-foot facility, which is in its third year of SQF Level 2 certification. It has recently invested nearly $2 million in two of the newest Nishibe high-speed pouch lines with custom die cutting and auto stacking capabilities dedicated primarily to liquid packaging. Its other big investment is the opening of a second facility — this one in Allendale, Mich. The 54,000-square-foot Michigan facility is currently focused on protective packaging converting of non-woven, foam and bubble pouches, sheets, and roll stock.
Locations: Massillion, OH and Allendale, MI
Markets: Food, Beverage, Household Care, Personal Care, Industrial