Spotlight: Patrick Kerrigan of Alpha Poly
From its establishment in 1989, flexible packaging manufacturer Alpha Poly has focused its business on its commitment to customer service and quality, plus the use of up-to-date HD technology. A push for strategic investing led Alpha Poly to install a large 8-colour Miraflex AM from Windmöller & Hölscher in 2013.Then in December 2018, Alpha Poly ushered in a new wave of strategic investment with the installation of a Windmöller & Hölscher Miraflex II 10-colour press. PrintAction spoke with Patrick Kerrigan, President of Alpha Poly and successor to the business’ founder, his father Paul, to discuss this newest installation, his thoughts on the industry and the company’s strategic investment plan.
PA: What does the new installation mean for Alpha Poly?
PK: Number one for us is to always bring on more capacity and look for growth — strategic planning is important for us [and] allows us to continue to grow. It also adds greater capabilities by moving us from and being able to print up to eight colours. Now we can print up to 10 colours and capabilities wise, that’s great as designs get more complicated and the requirements for those stations. Also, bringing on more capacity as we look to grow as well. It brings us a huge amount of capacity as we look to grow our business.
PA: What is Alpha Poly’s long-term investment plan and vision?
PK: We have a pretty aggressive strategic plan over the next four years of imminent growth, and this is one asset of a multi-asset capital purchase over the next four years. There is significant capital in other areas in pouch-making and lamination that we’ll look to in the next few years.
When we look at where we want to go and what we want to do, a big thing for us is we’ve moved into the markets of multi-laminate, rollstock, and stand-up pouches. We look to continue to grow that area and that segment because we see that as an area of growth where we traditionally had passed various focuses on print and poly bags. We find that the laminate market is the growth segment. That is, strategically, where we’re focusing on.
You hear about employee engagement, atmosphere and environment. For me, a big thing is that we’re a family business, but I look at it as it’s an overall family business for everyone who works here and their extended families. My dad’s always been a visionary and he’s always been looking at the next thing. Taking over from him and continuing in his vision is also important to me.
PA: Are commercial printers focused on packaging growth?
PK: Most of the people who play in our space, they’ve been set up to do this type of packaging. We’ve always done packaging from a flexible standpoint, it’s not like we were in corrugated and decided to move over into plastic. We’ve targeted an area of stand-up pouches as an area of growth. So that’s why we’ve invested assets that allow us to continue to sell to those segments. I don’t have experience with other converters that weren’t in this market that are moving into it — it’s more so adding capabilities to grow in that segment.
PA: Why should traditional commercial printers diversify into the packaging space?
PK: For us, as an example, we’re primarily in the food market and food manufacturers. We’re finding that a lot of companies are moving away from rigids – like glass and plastics – and moving toward more laminated and pouch, stand-up pouch or rollstock to help with shelf presence and reduce costs. Rigids can cost a lot of money in terms of their prices, but also their storage in their warehouse, storing the goods before they are packaged, and from a shipping standpoint. There are a lot of advantages to moving toward that kind of growth.
PA: What growth do you see in the sector when it comes to flexible packaging?
PK: I think the number that we’ve thrown around is that the American market grows by about five percent a year, which is pretty significant. For us, we’re looking for growth in the range of 20-percent plus. That’s the kind of growth we’re looking for. Another thing, in terms of strategic planning, is that the U.S. market is huge for us. We have sales representatives in the U.S. selling for us, that part of strategic planning where we see a lot of growth in the U.S. market.
PA: What are the key factors that are driving this growth?
PK: I think the U.S. economy is growing, they’re on a roll, and I think that helps. I think transitioning from rigids and such over to flexibles is big, as well as consolidation with our customers. What we find is when there is a lot of consolidation acquisitions happening, that opens up the door to get things moving.
This Q&A was originally published in the March 2019 issue of PrintAction, now available online.
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