Flexible Packaging recently caught up with Carl Joachim, ePac CMO, for an update on the company’s all-digital platform and how it has been received by the industry in the year-plus since its inception.
It’s been over a year now since ePac officially launched as North America’s first Greenfield company based exclusively on digital. Can you provide an update on the company and how it has been received in the industry?
Joachim: Market reception has been extremely positive. Within the first several months of opening our first plant in Middleton, Wisconsin, a broad array of CPGs of all sizes have found us – from startups to national brands. We’ve seen pent-up demand for what we offer, exceeding our growth expectations. SKU proliferation is continuing to increase, and our ability to service quick-turn, short to medium run length business has been described as game changing.
What do you think customers like most about ePac and its business platform?
Joachim: Three things stand out. There’s the graphics quality and 10-15 day turnaround times, with many expressing interest to work with a U.S.-based manufacturer to replace overseas sourcing. We also appeal to the needs of brand marketers. Promotions and new product launches can be launched rapidly, and to a targeted audience. This provides the marketer with new go-to-market options that leverage the power of digital printing. Digital is not just for short runs. We’ve found that digital can be economical even for longer runs, in particular where multiple SKUs are involved, and in other cases where variable content is needed.
How many printers will ePac have when the Colorado plant goes online? What types of printers are these?
Joachim: Our business model calls for each plant to have two HP Indigo 20000 digital presses. Colorado will open this fall with one press, and as volume grows, a second press will be added. Each ePac location will open with this configuration, and if the business climate is right, we can also add capacity as needed.
The Colorado facility was announced fairly quickly after the company itself was announced. What are the company’s plans for future growth beyond its Colorado and Wisconsin locations?
Joachim: Our plans are to open 15 ePac locations around the country within the next three years. We are currently engaged in discussions with a number of potential investors, each of whom are highly interested in our model and the potential to disrupt the flex pack industry. (Editor’s Note: Following Flexible Packaging’s conversation with ePac, the company announced plans to open a plant in Los Angeles in early 2018.)
Is there anything else you’d like to share about ePac and/or its digital business model?
Joachim: ePac makes it possible for companies with little experience in the flexible packaging space, or are unsure of how to approach digital, to enter the market. ePac Holdings co-invests with each owner/operator interested in opening an ePac location, and we provide services for startup, equipment acquisition, material procurement, marketing and IT.