Glenroy, a privately owned converter based in Menomonee Falls, Wis., has built its reputation on providing flexible packaging that is consistent, reliable and delivered on time. After more than 50 years in business, the company is experiencing rapid growth that is prompting the owners to begin construction on a new, 100,000 sq ft expansion, in addition to five other buildings in an industrial park just outside Milwaukee.
“We are growing at a fast rate where we didn’t want to miss the opportunity, so we had to make the jump,” says Evan Arnold, director of product development and engineering. The converter already operates four extrusion lamina tors, one adhesive laminator, two wide-web flexo presses and a line to make premade pouches. They plan to add more converting equipment presses and laminators as needed.
The Jablonka family launched the business in 1965, and operated as a printer of rollstock film and extrusion laminator for nearly five decades. About five years ago, the company added the capability to produce adhesive laminations and premade pouches. It is now a third-generation, privately held company with three of the founder’s grandchildren on the board of directors.
Along the way, Glenroy has built a solid standing for providing top customer support and technical service for a wide range of customers that range from food and beverage to personal care, pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals.
Serving An International Market
Now, Glenroy is delivering value-added rollstock and premade pouches to customers around the globe from its head- quarters in Wisconsin. While acknowledging that word-of-mouth referrals have been very important to Glenroy, Ken Brunnbauer, marketing manager, also says many people are searching online for different flexible packaging solutions, such as stand-up pouches for food and sustainable, premade pouches. “We align our website where people can find those solutions,” he says.
One example is the Mt. Olive Pickle Company, which recently began selling its pickle products in reclosable pouches, a potential disruptor in the pickle market. Glenroy developed a laminated structure that allows Mt. Olive to pasteurize fresh cucumbers in the pouch.
Glenroy has also begun exclusively producing STANDCAP pouches for brands such as Uncle Dougie’s BBQ sauce that are turning the condiment industry on its head. STANDCAP pouches were developed by Volpak as an easy-to-use, lightweight inverted pouch providing mess-free dispensing and shelf impact. For the finishing touch, STANDCAP features a dispensing solution developed by Aptar, made of an easy to open flip-lid closure and a tamper evident pull ring. Aptar’s proprietary SimpliSqueeze valve technology delivers drip-free and con- trolled product dispensing.
“We want to deliver highly functional flexible packaging material and pouches to the market,” says Arnold. “We are going to go above and beyond to make sure that the pouches we are developing with our customers exceed not only their expectations, but also those of the consumers. As flexible packaging is growing in popularity and opportunities, we as suppliers need to deliver highly functional packaging that works as well or better than rigid counterparts.”
Building a Quality Mindset
To gain the consistency and reliability on which the company bases its reputation, Arnold says they are engraining a quality mindset throughout the company, from the top down. The company manufactures materials under strict GMP conditions and has stringent quality standards to meet the needs of FDA regulated customers. Glenroy is BRC (British Retail Consortium) certified to ensure product safety and also is recognized by GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative).
Arnold says Glenroy makes continuous training a part of the company culture, adding that this creates more opportunities for employees, makes them more passionate about the work they are doing and has a positive impact of the quality of product being produced. Every Thursday, the company has open interviews for prospective employees who want to learn more about new opportunities to advance their career. They also have a strong internship program, partnering with local high schools, technical colleges and universities.
“We might not have a full-time position open when they graduate, but it’s about exposing them to the world of flexible packaging and teaching them real-life applications,” Arnold says. “Then, when they’re out in the working world — maybe it’s a brand using flexible packaging or another partner of ours in the industry — they can leverage their experience at Glenroy and consider working with us on their packaging projects.”
Glenroy’s product development and manufacturing engineers work closely with each customer. The product development engineers are charged with establishing a deep understanding of the customer’s needs. Arnold says these engineers must discover how customers are using the rollstock or premade pouches on their machinery and during post-processing. Then they use that information to develop the right structure with the right properties to meet all the customer needs, such as increased speed on filling lines, meeting sustainability goals or even developing a new process that Glenroy’s films will withstand. With expertise in both extrusion and adhesive laminating,
Glenroy is able to provide a wide range of packaging film laminations, including hybrid packaging film structures that utilize both extrusion and adhesive laminations. Glenroy’s adhesive system provides the versatility in substrates that can be bonded, and affords the ability to design flexible packaging films that withstand aggressive contents.
Stand-Up Pouches: A Specialty
Glenroy also develops custom premade stand-up pouches with a variety of features, such as spouts and fitments, zippers, windows, gussets, varying shapes, glossy or matte finishes and scoring.
Arnold says many first-time customers moving into flexible packaging want to see different pouch designs. One of first steps is to invite them to send their product to Glenroy. The packaging engineering team reviews the product, how the package is being filled and how the consumer is using it. Then Glenroy develops several pouch prototypes that can be used in the customer’s operation.
“We then do printed prototypes with their graphics that are filled so customers can use it as an internal tool to sell the packaging within their organization,” he says. “This development process is a great tool to show customers that flexible packaging can be as functional as other types of packaging.” After engineering, printing, and constructing the flexible packaging films, Glenroy next provides custom finishing. This includes quality control inspections, slitting wide flexible packaging film rolls into customer-specified widths, and preparing the rolls of flexible packaging film for shipment with customer-specified packaging and labeling styles.
If the final product is premade pouches, the finished rolls are sent to Glenroy’s nearby pouch converting facility and converted into premade pouches.
Asked which format is most popular, Brunnbauer says premade pouches getting the most attention right now, but that depends on where the customer is in the adoption of flexible packaging. “If they’ve been using a lot of flexible packaging, they may want to do their form/ fill/seal (FFS) in-house,” he adds.
There are many developing innovations within flexible packaging, especially in the area of reclosable features such as the STANDCAP, zippers and sliders, Arnold says. Meanwhile, equipment makers are manufacturing machines that can more easily run monopolymers and recyclable films partnered with reclosable features. He adds that Glenroy is receiving a lot of requests for shaped pouches, too.
Functionality, Sustainability Prime Opportunities
Both Brunnbauer and Arnold agreed that the major customers interests regarding flexible packaging are functionality and sustainability. “We’ve moved past the day when packaging is just supposed to protect the product,” Arnold says, adding that the customer wants that package to be as functional as possible, whether it’s keeping their food longer or making it more convenient to cook. “It’s really a merger of the product and the package working together to deliver a good solution to the consumer.” Glenroy continues to stay on the cutting edge of new materials and new processes while partnering with downstream companies to make and recycle plastics. At the same time, they are working with brands to highlight the many sustainable benefits of flexible packaging, such as a better package/product ratio and reduced usage of energy and water. Sustainability efforts are making converters look more at the upfront engineering, Arnold says. Glenroy continues to evaluate the whole picture and considers the entire lifecycle of the packaging as part of its sustainability program.