REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION
Tekni-Plex Inc. photo
The Wayne, Pa.-based company, with a new CEO, has grown significantly over the past year through a series of transactions.
Tekni-Plex Inc. makes packaging, but do not call the firm a packaging company, CEO Brenda Chamulak said.
The Wayne, Pa.-based company, instead, is a diverse operation that leads with material science capabilities across a broad swath of health care and consumer products, she said.
Tekni-Plex has grown over the years through a series of acquisitions, including five purchases in the last year that’s basically doubled the size of the firm to nearly $1.6 billion in annual sales.
With this recent growth, coupled with another 14 previous acquisitions over time, Tekni-Plex had built itself into a rather large company that presented to customers through separate business units, ones that were not always talking to one another.
To help cut through the hierarchy created over time, Tekni-Plex has reorganized and simplified into two business units, both with the Tekni-Plex name leading the way: Tekni-Plex Heathcare and Tekni-Plex Consumer Products.
It was just about a year ago that Chamulak was tapped to be the incoming CEO, effective June 30, 2021. She joined the company in October 2020 as president of the packaging products division with plans for her to move to the CEO’s chair in a planned transition.
Chamulak brought decades of experience in both operations and marketing to Tekni-Plex after having previously worked for Aptar Group for 26 years and then another couple of years as CEO of Jabil Packaging Solutions.
“We are not standing still. That’s for sure. We’re in significant transformation. As you can imagine. We’re an organization [that] in the last six months executed five acquisitions. Those were [done] very purposefully, over the course of the last six months to help really get us moving from a growth perspective,” Chamulak said in a recent wide-ranging interview.
“We’re not really a packaging company. By coming here and going through about four months of really trying to understand who we are and what we do and why customers do business with us, I came back to a number of things that really set us apart vs. what the world would consider a packaging traditional background,” she said.
Tekni-Plex has grown over the years to include a diverse group of offerings, but Chamulak explained the company’s core competency in material science ties all of the businesses together.
Reducing the company to simply “a packaging company” is a bit of a disservice, she intimated.
“This is anything but that. There’s something a lot more special about Tekni and the way we approach problems and solutions. And that is through the lens of a material science background,” she said.
“It’s a really important indication for us to be able to stand up and say, ‘Look, we are not a packaging supplier,’” she said. “We happen to play with customers who are concerned about their packaging. Our capability around material science provides them the ability to solve problems and challenges that they have, whether it’s sustainability, whether it’s barrier protection, whether it’s e-commerce challenges. Our material science across so many different substrates is what puts us in a position to partner with customers to help them solve bigger problems.”
Tekni-Plex has grown to now have about 7,000 employees at 44 global locations. About 70 percent of the company’s business is in the United States, with rest coming from Latin America, China, Europe and India.
It comes in at No. 14 in Plastics News’ ranking of the largest thermoformers in North America and No. 53 for the largest pipe, profile and tubing manufacturers in the region.
With a new CEO at the helm, Tekni-Plex undertook a reorganization that simplified its structure and how the company faces customers, eliminating historic brands that had been working in silos over the years.
“It’s really a big emphasis on Tekni-Plex. Behind all of these individual different companies were company names. We have moved those names out and we’re really talking about the name Tekni-Plex as an enterprise with only two divisions — Tekni-Plex Healthcare, Tekni-Plex Consumer Products — big and bold, really leading the way with trying to simplify that,” she said. “For the customers, they just need to know they come to us with some of their challenges and we help them solve those.”
Suj Mehta is the senior vice president of corporate development, mergers and acquisitions. In an email interview, he called the reorganization an evolution.
“We now approach our customers with a much greater sense of partnership and collaboration. This allows us [to] offer an even more eclectic array of mission-critical materials science solutions that help address their needs and goals,” he said.
“We had a very natural evolution. Given our proximity to the markets that we serve, we refined our strategic focus to better understand the needs of our customers, redefined how we work with the customers and made it easier for our customers to interact with us,” Mehta said.
This fundamental shift in how the company views itself will help propel Tekni-Plex forward, the CEO said.
“Initially the organization had all of these companies that were acquired set up as independent companies. What we found through our process was actually the definition of the company is not about the products that we make. It’s not really how we define ourselves. What we define ourselves by is the material science, and it happens to be products and capabilities are more the tools in the toolbox,” Chamulak said.
While Tekni-Plex now has annual sales approaching $1.6 billion, Chamulak said the firm is not done. “We believe that Tekni-Plex has the ability to grow much faster than the market and deliver solutions that are truly material science-based,” she said.
The company’s wide-ranging offerings include medical tubing, blister packaging, seals for packaging, dispensing systems, egg cartons, food trays and medical-grade compounds.
“We have a tremendous amount of competitive advantage — things that are very difficult to duplicate. Because we are a material science-based organization, we have proprietary formulas, technologies, know-how and the resources. What we do is very special, and it’s about getting closer to the customers and the markets that we serve so they are aware of what they have at their fingertips to really help solve those problems,” Chamulak said.
Genstar Capital, a San Francisco-based private equity firm, has owned Tekni-Plex since 2017. At the time of the acquisition, the company had about 2,500 employees.
“Understanding the power of what we have to offer and the deep capabilities of the business was key to unlocking the value of our business and was an important step in our journey,” Mehta said. “Whether it’s labeled a reorganization, repositioning or re-envisioning of the business, fundamentally, we have shifted how we approach the market and, more importantly, our customers.”
Reprinted with permission from Plastics News. © 2022 Crain Communications Inc. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. PN22011