Even though it is close to selling off its business to an industry titan, Ivex Packaging Corp. has not let that get in the way of expanding into a new product.
The Lincolnshire, Ill.-based company, a leading producer of rigid packaging, now is manufacturing coextruded film for printed polyethylene mailing bags, a substitute for its long-time production of paper mailers. The change, started earlier this year, will help Ivex compete in the market for stronger, more-secure mailers, said Tom Wetsch, a new-product manager for Ivex's protective packaging division.
``The anthrax scare might be over, but there's a lingering desire for more-secure individual mailers,'' Wetsch said June 4 at EastPack 2002 in New York. ``We've converted to new equipment that helps us build on our paper-based mailers in that industry.''
The company recently added four coextrusion machines at its plant in Bridgeview, Ill., and a printing press capable of producing six-color graphics on Ivex's PE mailers. The total investment, which Wetsch estimates is at least $4 million to $5 million, helps broaden Ivex's product line to include bubble mailers and coated plastic mailing bags that provide added security.
The company is using existing space in Bridgeview, moving out several paper-mailing machines to make room for the new coextrusion presses. Ivex's protective packaging division is based in Bridgeview.
The equipment has been added gradually during the past six months, with the newest lines installed this spring.
The investment in film equipment comes on the heels of a new void-fill packaging system. The system produces pillowed protective packaging made from PE film that can replace polystyrene shipping peanuts, Wetsch said.
A majority of Ivex, including its protective packaging division, is close to being acquired by Pittsburgh-based Alcoa Inc., one of North America's largest makers of flexible packaging. Ivex employees have been told the deal still is on track to close by the end of June, Wetsch said.
No changes in operations at Ivex have been announced, and Wetsch said he expects the protective packaging division to continue to operate as it has.