The innovations that owner Bob Cork and son Gareth have sourced and produced have enabled the company to leave its mark in a highly competitive field, with its longevity a testimony to the high regard in which their pioneering approach is held.
‘We’ve grown tenfold since we started,’ says Bob. ‘Certainly, a far cry from when Gareth – now a business partner – had to relocate the room housing his playthings to make space for my office.’
It goes without saying that no business is free of challenges, and Bob Cork Agencies has had its fair share over the years.
In the 1980s, the company was one of the first to introduce barcoding on packaging to South Africa. However, in 2007, Bob decided to focus exclusively on packaging solutions – only a few short months before the global financial crisis unfolded. Yet the move paid off handsomely.
There have been several key moments in the life of the business that have made it the success it is today.
In 1985, Bob met the owner of Cape Pack at a show in England, and through this connection the software was introduced to the South African market. The business has continued offering these products, which now form part of the Esko range.
‘The software is innovative,’ Gareth exclaims.
‘Our customers used to arrange boxes onto pallets by hand, but when Cape Pack was introduced it changed everything, as they now had an application that would do the work for them far more accurately and with an array of options, rather than them having to work it out for themselves manually.’
Bob Cork Agencies has also been at the forefront of compostables in the country, offering compostable absorbent tray liners to name a few. Again, Bob had an eye for the value of such offerings early on.
In 2017, a brand that sold kale chips wanted an eco-friendly product, so the business set about researching and creating a bioplastic laminated to a wood cellulose product, allowing it to compost. ‘That pushed us into the direction of compostability,’ Gareth explains.
For the Corks, it has always been about picking up on new trends as early as possible. In recent years, there has been a greater focus on recycling and sustainability, and the business has adapted accordingly.
Bob also attributes the company’s success to a network of incredible contacts who excel in their respective skill areas and these partners having the confidence in him to take good ideas to the commercial level.
‘It’s an exciting industry that is forever changing. There are always many opportunities on the horizon,’ he concludes.