- March 01, 2011, By Nsenga Thompson, Associate Editor
The sale of a company can be an uncertain time for both the new owners and their customers. But when Kleer Pak Mfg. Co., Addison, IL, changed hands in 1999, the new management did what was necessary to ensure their business plan was a success.
Founded in 1977, Kleer Pak supplies high quality bags and pouches to small and large converters, packers, and manufacturers across the US. Products can be plain, or they can be preprinted by Kleer Pak's converter customers.
Kleer Pak specialties include three-side seal pouches, quad-seal bags, back-seam bags, side-gusseted bags, bottom-gusseted bags, zipper bags, and stand-up zipper pouches. The products are used in a variety of flexible packaging applications, including retail food and non-food, institutional food, medical, pharmaceutical, nutritional, confectionery, and pet food.
A Fresh Start
In 1999, the company came under the leadership of current owners Kam Patel, Ramesh Gandhi, and Gordhan Patel. Although each had several years of experience operating various types of businesses, the three partners entered new territory when they purchased the company more than 11 years ago.
Understanding the keys to success, Kam Patel, president, knew the first critical step was to immerse himself in the packaging arena. “I didn't have any experience in packaging,” he admits, “but business is something I do know something about.”
Instead of immediately taking the reigns from the previous owners, Patel received a full year of hands-on experience working in the Kleer Pak production area before taking ownership. Shortly after taking over day-to-day operations, Patel went through another round of intensive training — this time seeking insight from his vendors' engineering and laboratory staffs — on technical specifications and expertise pertaining to the nuances of their product line.
Over the past two decades, the mom-and-pop gourmet food business has grown considerably. Seeing the need for packaging products in small quantities, Patel implemented a Stock Pouch Program to fill that niche. Kleer Pak currently stocks 26 popular sizes of 3-mil nylon-poly vacuum pouches.
Now, more than 11 years after the company changed hands, the new owners have taken the once-struggling business to a successful level thanks to a commitment to new equipment and important certification through the American Inst. of Baking (AIB).
Although Kleer Pak has been providing a variety of bag choices over the years utilizing several proprietary machines, the secret to its recent success has been the purchase of Karlville's KSG multiformat pouch and zipper machine.
With the ability to produce a growing range of styles of bags and pouches, the Karlville machine has increased production at the plant significantly. Since installing the equipment in late 2008, Kleer Pak has produced more than 12 million bags and pouches on the Karlville line alone.
Kleer Pak recently added a Quality Assurance Lab as part of gearing up for AIB certification. All production personnel were trained on the new vacuum and burst-test equipment, along with new reporting and record-keeping procedures. A carefully scripted Traceability Program meets the needs of an ever-increasingly scrutinized food supply chain.
To ensure the quality of its products, Kleer Pak conducts rigorous testing throughout the day for the strength and structural integrity of the bags and pouches that come off all its lines.
With the increased demand Kleer Pak has experienced, the converter has plans to add a second Karlville machine into its 24,000-sq-ft facility in the next 12 months.
Through equipment investments, testing. and new certification, Kam Patel says Kleer Pak is reaching its key business objective: “To be the converter's converter.”
- Karlville Development Group | www.karlville.com
- Kleer Pak Mfg. Co. | 320 S. La Londe Ave., Addison, IL 60101 | 630-543-0208 | www.kleerpak.com
A key component to increased productivity at Kleer Pak Mfg. Co. has been its completion of the AIB certification program, in this case referencing Food Contact Packaging. It involves creating programs, practices, and procedures that assure the manufacture of consumer safe products. The parameters of the certification involve sanitation, security, organization, and procedural regimen for products, personnel, equipment, and even the building itself.
To ascertain, compose, and transcribe a custom-tailored handbook of practice and procedure took several weeks. To train personnel, upgrade equipment, and revamp the facility took the better part of a year. In the end, Kleer Pak and its employees earned an AIB certification of “Excellent” on their very first attempt.
“It took us a year to make all the necessary preparations, including writing all of our procedures, reconfiguring warehousing, and implementing the mandatory pest control requirements,” says Kam Patel, president, who says the certification is worth the effort. “It assures the quality coming out of the plant.” In addition to quality, AIB certification also helps Kleer Pak expand its customer base.