Crown Poly Inc. has moved to a more efficient facility while expanding its premium Pull-N-Pak bagging system.
In December, Crown Poly relocated operations about three miles to a 120,000-square-foot site in Huntington Park, Calif., with a private rail siding. Retaining power service and favorable rates from neighboring Vernon, Calif.'s municipal utility was critical to make the deal feasible.
Abraham Simhaee, president and chief executive officer, founded the business in 1991 when he was a grocery industry veteran.
``He was buying truckloads of produce bags'' but considered them of poor quality, said Catherine Browne, general manager.
Crown Poly opened in 20,000 square feet and grew into 100,000 square feet.
``We moved into different sections of the building, but the layout was not very effective,'' Browne said.
Simhaee imagined a perfect produce bag. He now holds 14 patents on his system and has many patents pending.
Testing led to use of a high density, high-molecular-weight virgin resin deemed suitable for high-speed, high-output manufacturing of 0.285-mil-thick bags.
Crown Poly extrudes film, and prints and converts bags with four folds and a reinforced star-seal bottom. Eight panels roll out pre-opened from a dispenser, alternately repel each other and, static-free, stay positioned for easy loading, the company claims.
The inventiveness has been noticed.
Pull-N-Pak ``is one of the best bag products that has been introduced in the last decade or so,'' said Robert Bateman, president of Roplast Industries Inc. in Oroville, Calif., via e-mail ``It works better than the bags on a roll that are difficult to open, and the patent has been protected. The industry and its customers need more of this type of value-added innovation rather than focusing on the lowest-cost and often the lowest-value product.''
Pull-N-Pak has provided ``an added convenience for our customers'' since late 2000, said Terri Bennis, vice president of fresh-food operations for Kowalski's Market, an eight-store chain based in St. Paul, Minn. Customers are not ``fighting the plastic bag.''
While Pull-N-Pak bags are costly, ``we talk value,'' Browne said. A grocer ``may spend more upfront for our product, but will sell more produce and increase profits.''
The firm also exports to Canada, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and more than 20 other countries.
Crown Poly provides polycarbonate or stainless-steel dispensing hardware and maintains the equipment. The company doubled its in-house sales force within the past year.
In the current environment, ``we perceive imports as the biggest long-term threat to our company,'' Browne said. Beyond groceries, Crown Poly in mid-2002 began test marketing nonretail consumer and institutional applications.
Since reaching a broad market in 1995, Crown Poly has increased its undisclosed annual sales ``at an average rate of 26 percent,'' Browne said.