Blow molder Consolidated Container Co. LLC of Atlanta has been through many changes during the past year, including having a new chief executive officer named in October. The company also made three acquisitions through 2005 and plans to be active with more acquisitions in 2006.
``It's a people business whether you like it or not,'' Jeff Greene, named president and chief executive officer in October, said in a March 7 interview at the Plastics News Executive Forum in Tampa. ``It's not just about running machinery.''
Under his auspices, the company is balancing more between manufacturing and marketing vs. focusing so much on manufacturing. Greene credited former CEO Stephen Macadam with establishing a great operational base for the company.
Consolidated will not expand overseas in the near future but instead stay focused on North America.
``There are very few, select customers who, at the right time, may want us to go with them [overseas],'' he said. ``If it was right, it would be something we would consider. But it's at least two years away. We think the North American market is large enough. We're positioned well enough in the markets that we're in that there's plenty of upside potential in North America.''
For long-term success, the company will focus on specific areas, for instance, like hot-fill polypropylene.
``What we've chosen to do is get really good at what we do in the polypropylene and high density area and not delude our capital spending in areas where we don't have a technology opportunity,'' he said.
Q: What will 2006 hold for the company in the way of acquisitions?
Greene: We'll be more aggressive in 2006 by a good bit than we have been in previous years. We have a three-year acquisition strategy in place. It started in the fourth quarter, where we sat down and we looked at what we've done and learned from the three acquisitions that we have. We took those lessons and put them into a three-year plan.
Q: Branding and design now are major thrusts for packaging-related companies. Can you talk about what Consolidated is doing in the way of branding itself, especially while incorporating the three acquisitions from 2005? (Greene has appointed Gina Haines marketing director; she has been charged with the branding of Consolidated Container.)
Greene: The brand name in the marketplace is critical, he said. Branding has a triple-purpose, to strongly identify the company as it goes through a refinancing in two years; to secure financing as it goes through its acquisition activity, and in order to have a solid identity when the company approaches potential acquisitions.
Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have on your plate as CEO in 2006?
Greene: For the company, there are two, and they're very equally balanced. This company had been 90 percent manufacturing focused. So if you look in the shift, and this is a clear shift inside the company, we've gone from a very highly manufacturing-focused organization to a company that's very balanced between product quality and cost and driving the top line. And the top line is very specifically driven toward either markets or certain customers. So the challenge I have, and it's kind of a mantra that we have, is that this is a pennies and pounds business. We've got to take the pennies away on the cost side, and we've got to grow the pounds on the revenue side.
So what I lose sleep about every night is our ability to continue to control costs and to deliver a high-quality product on time and our ability to effectively grow in the markets that we want to grow in, to grow the top line for the company. So there's not one single thing.
We've aligned our resources, which are financial resources and our people resources, equally around those two areas. In the past, more than 80 percent of the company's capital was spent on the production end of the business, getting infrastructure right, working on efficient systems, automation, things along those lines. So it was very heavily weighted. So what we've said now, we've seen the shift now in the fourth quarter, and again in the first quarter, where we're very balanced.