- June 01, 2001, Teresa Koltzenburg, Senior Editor
There's a lot in a name. Whether you're searching the yellow pages or the Internet, getting the “name,” the descriptive term or phrase, right is the key step that gets you the information you need — faster. So, what would you call a company that's “open to anything and all opportunities”? Chris Gorenc calls his “Converted Products Inc.”
Mark Hahn, sales and marketing director, describes the company as one that will try “just about anything we come across.” And he isn't exaggerating when he says “just about anything”: The Milwaukee, WI-based contract converting operation slits a wide array of materials: paper, film, foam, adhesives, rubber, plastic, release liners, composites, nonwovens, paperboard, foil, fabric, pressure-sensitives, even bubble wrap. It employs 16 slitters and 50 people to keep its services on the “cutting-edge…excuse the pun,” jokes Hahn.
Shanks Converting Equipment manufactured 75% of the company's slitting equipment, says Gorenc. “We've developed a great relationship with Shanks; they've really helped us in our creativity.”
Gorenc had to be creative when he started the company in 1993. “Basically, we bootstrapped this company,” he explains. “Long story short: second mortgages, those kinds of things. There wasn't a large infusion of money brought in to start Converted Products. Because of that, I drew off of my relationships with our machinery people.”
One of those relationships just happened to be with Alan Shanks.
“My first experience with him was through my former employer,” Gorenc reveals. “We bought a used slitter, and we had Alan do the rebuild on it. That's basically how we started in business — just doing very limited slitting work for people.”
Out of the relationship with Shanks, and Gorenc's and Hahn's willingness to explore and be creative, grew a full-fledged converting operation. “We began with about 15,000 square feet in West Allis, Wisconsin. We purchased a new facility on the northwest side of Milwaukee last July, and we added even more capabilities. We run two shifts here, six days a week, and this new facility gives us more room for growth and makes our operation more efficient,” notes Gorenc.
Converted Products currently operates in a 65,000-sq-ft plant, which PFFC toured a few months ago. It was easy to see the operation was organized for efficiency: Each section was dedicated to certain applications, split, essentially, into various slitting departments. This, notes Gorenc, is a very effective way to work when you're dealing with so many materials and so many widths. “We pride ourselves on being not only very competitive but also being very timely on our deliveries. Efficiency is very important.”
To add to that efficiency, for now and the future, Converted Products purchased a second building earlier this year. Located behind the current facility, the new 55,000-sq-ft facility “is used strictly for warehousing,” notes Gorenc.
The Machine Men
The majority of Converted Products' machinery comes from Alan Shanks, says Gorenc. “By making versatile equipment and always keeping an eye on price, Shanks and his group have really helped us grow our business. We've sat here on weekends making sketches of equipment modifications. Then we'll fax it over to Alan and his people — he's got a great engineering team — and they'll make it happen. By utilizing computer-aided drafting, we make our modifications and fax them back and forth. Within a couple of weeks, they're building a machine. Basically, we've been able to design equipment around certain applications. That's been key to our company.”
Converted Products recently purchased a Shanks 200-in.-wide surface winder for handling nonwovens, and the company currently operates numerous Shanks machines with widths ranging from 30-200 in.
The company also operates a Dusenbery 835 center-wind slitter, which was purchased at the urging of Shanks. “Alan Shanks is the guy who turned us on to Dusenbery,” reports Gorenc. “We were looking for a center winder, and we asked him, ‘Who's the best guy out there?’ He said, ‘Dusenbery really is your best bet.’”
Converted Products also offers a variety of single-pass, in-line operations in its rewind slitting services. Hahn points out the company can laminate and slit up to a 72-in. web and ultrasonic seam and slit up to a 200-in. web width. Other single-pass, in-line converting services include rotary die-cutting; punching, scoring, and slitting; kiss cutting; and folding and perfing. Converted Products also provides sheeting and utilizes a 72-in. wide Contech sheeter for this service.
The operation keeps its scheduling and inventory organized with custom-designed software. Says Gorenc, “It manages our scheduling, our inventory, and our invoicing. It was created by Lightburn Designs and was written by one of the guys that used to work here. It's designed for our business, really tailored to our industry.”
When it comes to cutting, it seems there's little Converted Products can't do: Hahn provided this laundry list of the materials it currently converts: silicone-coated paper, silicone-coated film, PET, high-density polyethylene, LDPE, oriented polypropylene, coextrusions, foils, felt, and more. “We've die-cut a 60-mil acrylic without shattering it,” Hahn adds proudly.
Gorenc sums up the company's capabilities: “There really isn't anything that you can wind up and put on a roll that we can't run through this facility.”
Yep. There's a lot in a name, and Converted Products covers it all.
Converted Products, Inc.
8501 W. Tower Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53224
Shanks Converting Equipment Corp., Newark, NJ; ph: 973/824-0236; fax: 973/824-7864.
John Dusenbery Co., Randolph, NJ; ph: 973/366-7500; fax: 973/366-7453.
Contech, Goddard, KS; ph: 800/633-7621; fax: 316/722-2976.
Lightburn Designs, Milwaukee, WI; ph: 414/347-1866; fax: 414/347-1926.