Investment gives a boost to innovative closure

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FunLPro, a unique approach that incorporates a funnel into a closure for liquid packaging, is attracting outside investment that’s expected to help boost both production and marketing.

Bryan Crosby, CEO of FunLPro owner Southeastern Packaging Technologies LLC, sees the $700,000 from Mollenhour Gross LLC as a way to accelerate development of the FunLPro brand beyond what the small company could do on its own.

“FunLPro is essentially a closure system with an extendable lengthy pouring spout built directly into the closure itself. It eliminates spills and messes for the consumer when transferring liquid products from container to destination and eliminates the need for other pouring devices such as funnels,” Crosby explained.

KenJo Markets, a regional chain of convenience stores and gas stations, has experienced a 10-fold increase in private label motor oil sales thanks to the use of FunLPro, Crosby said.

That kind of growth has Knoxville, Tenn.-based Southeastern Packaging planning for a much larger roll-out of the closure and dispensing system.

“The investment really allows us to invest in the type of machinery as well as the sales and marketing to support those products and the retailer outlets that they will be at,” Crosby said.

A portion of the money, estimated at 10 to 15 percent by the CEO, will be used to purchase two 8-cavity molds that will allow the company to produce more product. The firm currently is using a 2-cavity mold in China to launch the concept and provide initial production. The balance of the cash will be used for marketing.

FunLPro is out to prove the reliability and popularity of its closure and dispensing system with the ultimate goal of attracting attention from larger companies.

“The closure technology in our portfolio of patents is really what we’re trying to drive and create awareness with the big boys, the major CPGs and major automotive lubricant brands,” Crosby said.

“Our private labels that we’re launching are really just the vessel to get our closure out in the market and validate the consumer preference for it over and above current commodity closures,” he said.

Mollenhour Gross is taking a 25-percent stake in FunLPro for $550,000 and providing a $150,000 line of credit.

“We are confident in the continued proliferation of FunLPro technology, and we believe it solves a problem experienced around the globe on a daily basis,” said Jordan Mollenhour in a statement. “Consumers will benefit from reduced spills and less waste when using everyday items such as motor oils, household cleaner products, medical fluids and industrial compounds. This is a huge market.”

The idea for FunLPro was developed by Gary Crosby, who finally got sick and tired of all the spills he encountered while filling up fluids on his car hauler and his work truck. Bryan Crosby’s father figured there had to be a better way than using a conventional funnel that does not always work well considering the tight spaces sometimes found in engines.

FunLPro takes what can be a messy 10-minute job and turns it into a 30-second job, the CEO

Bryan Crosby was able to develop a business plan for FunLPro as part of his MBA work at the University of Tennessee, and the fledgling firm continued to develop thanks to business plan competitions the firm won once he graduated.

Attracting outside funding, Crosby said, is “huge.”

“It’s the difference between us being able to dink and dunk along and play it as more of a lifestyle business vs. us looking at it as more of an exponential growth type of product,” he said.

The cash will allow the company to expand more quickly without having to look at debt financing and allow the firm to jump into wider markets more quickly than would otherwise be possible. This will also give FunLPro, which has patented its technology, a lead on any competition.

Crosby also said he is able to tap Mollenhour Gross’s business experience to help growth the company.

Crosby sees FunLPro being used on both rigid and flexible packaging sold in both retail and direct-to-consumer channels. Along with automotive he sees a major market in marine applications.

FunLPro currently manufactures in China, and Crosby sees an initial production expansion also taking place there. The system still requires some hand assembly to create the final product, and labor costs play a factor at this point. The CEO anticipates a future opportunity to automate production and bring it to the United States, but that step will need higher sales volumes.

Crosby and his father are not shy about the market they anticipate for FunLPro, envisioning global adoption of the company’s patented approach.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to grow the business in a major way,” he said.