Historically, HQC is a custom molding company. However, as the Oswego, Illinois-based company grew out of a garage shop to an 80,000 square-foot facility, it only made sense for leadership to consider adding more services. One that Blair Pasternak, HQC president, has always had his eye on is flexible packaging – and that’s where Joe Haske enters this story.
Haske has been with HQC since 2006. A journeyman toolmaker by trade, he started helping out in the tool room and building and testing fixtures. Then in 2012, Pasternak decided to go all-in on entering the flexible packaging space.
“We decided to start testing pouch fitments and different films,” Pasternak says. “Since nobody in the industry has any of that information for customers, we thought to start doing that. While we were doing that, we had a project that started and nobody did any of the upfront work. It was a spouted pouch, and since there is no information to learn fitment inserting, the chances of getting any help was nonexistent.”
What ensued was a film vs. fitment sort of battle, but what nobody thought about was the inserting process. Pouches were failing at 7 psi. Using heavier film helped, but wasn’t practical.
“We decided to try some things and change the process, the seal bar design and see what would happen,” Pasternak continues. “Joe stepped up to the plate and spearheaded the project. We found using the original film and fitment combination that by changing the process and making design modifications, we could consistently increase burst rates into the mid-20 psi range using the lower cost film.”
And so HQC’s fitment insertion division was born.
“The more we got into making fitments, the more we got into making equipment to test out our product,” Haske adds. “That’s really what we got into, proving out our fitments to sell them.”
Haske quips that he’s HQC’s best kept secret because nobody knows what he really does. In reality, it’s his jack-of-all-trades approach that has proven to be so valuable for the company – not to mention his willingness to take on new challenges.
“I’ve been fortunate to kind of be on the ground floor of some of the new stuff that’s come in here,” Haske says. “The one thing about HQC, they back me on pretty much anything that I’ve wanted to try or they’ve wanted to try. They’ll come up to me with something and say ‘You think we can do this?’ I’ll give it a try. There’s usually not a hesitation, we’ll jump into it and we’ve been very fortunate to be successful at most everything that we’ve been doing.”
In addition to his can-do attitude, Pasternak says Haske is always helping others learn about fitment inserting. He also works with companies to test film and fitment materials in production-like runs.
“He was — and still is — open to learning and sharing knowledge with others,” Pasternak says. “He’s using his unique background to help increase opportunities in flexible packaging.”
People in Packaging
We’re looking to profile the unsung heroes of the packaging industry in this new regular feature. If you have someone you’d like to nominate, contact Flexible Packaging Editor Eric Fish at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-786-1667.
You can also log on to a special submissions page at www.flexpackmag.com/people-in-packaging-submission.