- October 31, 2005, By Edward Boyle Contributing Editor
Mark Lichtblau, corporate VP of Haremar Plastic Mfg. Ltd., Toronto, ON, Canada, has coached high school basketball for more than 15 years, and he not only brings the same competitive spirit to film converting but some of the same "management" philosophies as well.
That's why his family-run company has established long-standing and mutually beneficial relationships with key suppliers, most notably Battenfeld Gloucester Engineering and Dow Plastics.
"You don't want to have a situation where your team is dependent on one or two players,” notes Lichtblau. "You need a strong, balanced team that includes good coaches, good starters, and good players on the bench. I can tell you the names of 10 or 15 people at Battenfeld or Dow that I can call if I have a problem. And you have real people, with real experiences, to talk to and strategize with. Depth makes a difference."
Haremar produces monolayer and coextruded films for produce, courier bags, bakery overwraps, and can liners. Lichtblau utilizes every resource to promote Haremar's products and capabilities to customers. He believes the quality of Haremar's plant and machinery, its process expertise, and its 100 employees are as essential to winning and keeping customers as are the products and services the company provides.
"We proudly promote our philosophy of being customer focused and that starts with service," explains Lichtblau. "We want to demonstrate that we are really interested in their business success. First we listen, then we ask the right questions. We place our customers’ interests before ours. Haremar’s success will come as a result of our customers' successes."
On Sept. 1, 2004, Haremar officially opened a new plant in Toronto, a 139,000-sq-ft manufacturing and distribution facility that consolidates two smaller sites.
One important on-going aspect of operations at the plant is Haremar's 25-year relationship with Battenfeld Gloucester. (The converter has worked with Dow for 10 years.)
Battenfeld supplied much of the equipment that Haremar uses to make film and bags, including three extruders (two 84-in. 3-layer co-extrusion lines and one 54-in. mono-layer line), as well as a range of technical support that involved assistance in plant layout and design to assure optimum production efficiency. Haremar runs a total of ten blown film lines in the plant. The company also has six bagmaking lines, several of which are from Battenfeld Gloucester.
The technical support Battenfeld provided came at no charge. Curt Fisher, Battenfeld's Midwest regional sales manager, says the company sends experts to review plant and machine-layout designs when requested. He says Battenfeld worked with Lichtblau and his architects to configure the plant floor for machine installations.
"We embraced Battenfeld from a layout perspective to utilize their experiences with full facilities versus just installing one line," notes Lichtblau. To him, Battenfeld's willingness to take the extra steps necessary to assist in optimizing plant design shows a commitment to Haremar's success that goes beyond machinery sales.
"Battenfeld doesn't just see Haremar as an equipment buyer, but as a long-term business partner," Lichtblau says. "Battenfeld is committed to our success and strategizes with us to improve operations."
Haremar takes full advantage of Battenfeld's expertise in film technology and equipment design, as well as its global experience. Lichtblau notes that Battenfeld can recommend a range of machine designs and component options to meet production needs. Battenfeld also shares examples of installations worldwide to show what can be achieved with its equipment.
"Haremar has a lot of technology, process capability, and production knowledge," Lichtblau says. "When we combine this with Battenfeld's equipment know-how and global resources, it's the difference between an answer and a business strategy."
The two Battenfeld blown film lines, installed between June and August, have a number of equipment options that improve quality and productivity. These include horizontal hauloffs that are new for Battenfeld. BGE's horizontal hauloffs provide benefits such as a fully supported base, and turning bars aren't suspended from a single overhead point bearing. This leads to a much more stable hauloff and resultant improvements in film quality.
Other equipment features on the machines are gravimetric blending; Battenfeld's Optiflow LP (low-profile) die and Extrol control, which regulates every extrusion process from a single point; internal bubble cooling with autogauge control; oscillating nips; and the high-end model 1008D dual-turret winder.
"When we sell our products, we are selling based upon our reputation as well as the reputation of our suppliers. Their knowledge and capabilities are integral to our success" says Fela Lichtblau, president and co-founder. "As long as Battenfeld continues to improve its products and meet our technical needs, we will be strategizing and collaborating with them."
Adds Mark Lichtblau, "They just stepped up to the plate every time. When we have a problem, it is perceived as ‘our issue,’ meaning both companies. There's joint ownership, because we either both succeed or we both fail.
There seems to be little question about the outcome of this partnership.
Haremar Plastic Mfg. Ltd.
200 Great Guld Dr.
Vaughan, ON, Canada L4K 5W1