South Korean cosmetic packaging manufacturer EunJin Pack Co. Ltd. is building a new factory, its fourth in its home country, as it scouts opportunities for international expansion.
The company, which makes containers and closures for multinational cosmetic and pharmaceutical firms, is actively looking for a joint venture partner in China and India, because it sees its home market maturing, President H.M. Lee said in a March 30 interview at the company's Hwaseong headquarters.
While it sees the domestic market slowing, Lee says there's been enough new business that the company is spending about US$2 million on a new plant, next door to its headquarters facility. The 54,000-square-foot facility will house several Japanese blow molding machines and a showroom for its containers and closures.
The company currently does about 75 percent of its US$17 million in annual sales in South Korea, but wants to boost export sales to about half its business, Lee said. Mostly, it exports small containers of less than 15 ounces to North America, Europe and Japan.
The company has tackled some unique projects, like making caps for skin cream containers, using a special cellulosic resin that allows the polymer to be impregnated with a fragrance. It did that using material from Eastman Chemical Co. in Kingsport, Tenn., and a patented process from Rotuba Extruders Inc. in Linden, New Jersey.
Lee said the company has had success making containers from Eastman's `'glass polymer'' copolyester material, which can be tricky to work with. Besides that material, the firm uses polyethylene, PET, glycol-modified PET and polypropylene in its manufacturing operations.
Lee said the company's export strategy faces challenges such as trying to boost overseas sales at a time when the South Korean currency, the won, is gaining value on world markets.
High resin prices have also been lowering profit margins at the privately held company, he said. The 80-person firm tries to combat labor shortages by bringing in workers from the Philippines, China and other parts of Korea. It has dormitories on-site that house about 30 people.
EJ has been looking unsuccessfully for a partner to expand into China and India for about three years, which Lee attributes in part to the company not being well-known outside of Korea.
The company tentatively plans to stock its would-be overseas location with about 10 machines and transfer 500-600 of its 2,000-plus molds there, he said. EJ has 44 machines, including 20 injection molding presses, and injection blow, blow and stretch blow molding machines.
Lee, an engineer by training, started working in plastic blow molding when he was 16, and by 20, was running the production department for a now-defunct South Korean molder Sam Young Plastic Co.
There, he started designing and developing cosmetic packaging containers, but decided to strike out on his own in 1985, at the age of 33, when he founded EJ.