Representing a significant investment of some R13,5-million (including new equipment), the purpose-built premises – sited on a 2 000m² plot – provide an additional 1 600m2 of much-needed factory space, plus a mezzanine floor and spanking new offices.
We had intended to buy an existing building but couldn’t find anything suitable,’ Russell relates. ‘Then we used Google Earth and found this empty plot … just 300m from our other premises!’
The previous factory has not been sold as its close proximity makes it extremely valuable for additional storage and warehousing.
Notable among the Webb family’s investments in upgraded technology are a pair of Mamata stand-up pouch makers, adding to the already impressive line-up of 14 bag-makers, four pouch-makers, six slitter rewinders, a guillotine and a perforator. In addition, the company runs its own sheeting department.
CAPTION: Peter and Russell Webb with one of their two new Mamata stand-up pouch-making machines.
Also facilitated by the additional space has been the inclusion of an in-house workshop, manned by two qualified fitters/turners, and boasting the latest in computerised milling machinery and precision lathes. ‘This means,’ says Russell, ‘that we can repair any breakdown in-house, as well as ensuring ongoing maintenance. This results in minimised downtime and enhances our ability to deliver products on-time to our customers.’
And, as Peter Webb, adds, the fresh new factory provides fresh inspiration. ‘We have space to move and it’s like a breath of fresh air … it makes you really want to come to work!’
Serving a niche market
This really has been one of the Western Cape’s heart-warming success stories.
Peter Webb established Prac-Pak in 1985, originally in rented premises in Diep River, where he was gradually joined by a number of family members – notably his wife, Sue, who’s still handles the company’s accounts to this day – and in 1991 by their son Russell.
Peter pays particular tribute to Sue and her impeccable financial control, which he stresses has played a major role in Prac-Pak’s success.
The move to their own premises in Ottery occurred in 1997, and now they have moved again, today owning both properties in Ottery.
Today’s staff complement is 42 (and another three soon to be employed) in the factory, plus an admin staff of seven.
The secret of Prac-Pak’s success is offering service and quality in a specialised niche market. The focus is on the supply of flexible packaging materials – in bags, pouches, reels and sheets. Primary materials converted are polypropylene, cellulose film, biodegradable film, and PET/PE laminates, all printed or plain.
Customers are predominantly in the food, textile and stationery markets; and indicative of the company’s success is the fact that Prac-Pak is an approved supplier to Woolworths.
Prac-Pak has also branched out to supply a couple of complementary products. As the local agent for Minigrip in the US, Prac-Pak offers Easy Hang Tags, a range of self-adhesive hanging hooks suitable for displaying all types of products in-store. The second product, called Fresherseal answers consumers’ demands for a way to reseal flexible bags after their contents have been partially used.
Russell is adamant that local businesses need to be prepared for the onslaught of 2010 and the massive influx of extra consumers as a result of the FIFA World Cup. ‘We have to gear up to meet that challenge – not only to keep up with current demand but also to ensure that we can meet anticipated increased demand,’ he says.
Prac-Pak is ready to meet these challenges with its fresh new plant and ample space for both production and storage, state-of-the-art equipment, a skilled workforce and the dynamism that’s typical of this type of entrepreneurial operation.
‘We’re well placed to meet demand for the foreseeable future, and we won’t be expanding the factory any further – unless we go up!’ Russell quips.
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