Weber International Packaging Corp. is readying for a major expansion into PET cosmetic and health-care bottles, after signing an exclusive regional agreement with a German customer.
Weber will produce bottles for Nivea personal-care products in North America for Beiersdorf AG, a Hamburg, Germany-based company that sells the Nivea brands worldwide. Weber signed an ageement in early January with the bottles' European manufacturer, Weener Plastik Packaging Group, said Weber International President and Chief Executive Officer Heinz Weber.
Weener, Germany-based Weener Plastik will provide the designs and molds, as well as injection molded PET preforms.
The Nivea contract, plus another with a toothpaste manufacturer, will give 6-year-old Weber International its first exposure to PET bottles, a burgeoning market in the personal-care industry. Traditionally, those bottles have been made in high density polyethylene, but PET offers transparent shades of color and greater design flexibility.
The company, based outside Montreal in Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec, previously focused on bottles made from HDPE and linear low density PE, although its founder and president has deeper roots in PET packaging.
Heinz Weber, a 45-year industry veteran, owned blow molder Westra Industries Inc. until 1987. Weber's other company, Duopac Plastics LLC, changed its name in 1999 to Weber International.
The new relationships in PET molding will give the company a boost, Weber said Jan. 21. The company only recorded about C$12 million (US$9 million) in sales last year, but has grown quickly to three plants and more than 50 extrusion blow molding machines.
``In the industry, the Weber name is already well-known,'' Weber said. ``We are definitely on a growth path. With these new relationships, we no longer will be known as the small guy down the street.''
The company plans to invest about C$2 million (US$1.5 million) during the next 12 months in PET equipment, installing a SIG Blomax multistage injection stretch blow molding machine and a Nissei one-stage injection stretch machine.
The Nissei unit will make PET toothpaste bottles. The company will provide the package and a proprietary closure for a U.S.-based customer, Weber said. The Nissei unit will be installed at Weber's Plattsburgh, N.Y., facility, about an hour from Montreal.
The machines are expected to be running by midyear and will be able to produce 30 million PET bottles annually, he said.
If volumes continue to rise, Weber has space to grow in Vaudreuil-Dorion. Currently, that facility has 76,000 square feet. But the company bought adjacent land last year that can accommodate 160,000 square feet of space, said Andrew Wick, Weber executive vice president for sales and marketing.
Weber also has a blow molding facility in Weissenfels, Germany, that opened in 2002.
Weener also signed a recent joint venture agreement with CCL Industries Inc. in North America. Weber plans to explore working with CCL, now that both have relationships with the German packaging producer.
That would not be the first time that Heinz Weber has crossed paths with CCL. Seventeen years ago, he sold Westra to CCL, based in Toronto, and then built a PET bottle plant for the company that eventually turned into Duopac Packaging.
``[Weber International] might be new at PET, but I certainly have some experience at it,'' Weber said.