Next Generation Films Inc. continues to keep pace with expanding packaging markets by investing heavily in production capacity.
Next Generation CEO and owner Dave Frecka said his company plans to break ground on its fourth film extrusion plant late this year at its Lexington, Ohio, campus. Over the next three years the firm will install 10 new film lines, mostly Windmoeller & Hoelscher and Alpine systems, in plant No. 4, Frecka said in a phone interview.
“We have a good customer base,” Frecka explained. Next Generation makes specialty films for modified atmosphere packaging, a fast growing market for films that protect food and beverages as they regulate humidity and gas levels surrounding the contents to prolong shelf life.
“It's all specialty films,” Frecka stressed. New extrusion lines will make five-, seven and nine-layer constructions that are tailored to specific demands for fresh and prepared foods. Five-layer films are rapidly replacing three-layer films in one trend in packaging that is convincing Next Generation to invest in multilayer lines.
Frecka said his firm is in the second year of a five-year expansion plan that he thinks will boost the firm's sales to $500 million. Plastics News' survey of North America's film and sheet industry pegged the company's sales at $343 million for 2015.
Before plant No. 4 is in operation, Next Generation is adding two more multilayer film lines in plant No. 3 this year. An expansion at Next Generation's bag and pouch plant on the campus is also underway, Frecka noted.
“We bought another 80 acres in Lexington,” Frecka continued. In total, the expansion frenzy represents a $75 million investment in land, buildings and equipment for the 2014 to 2019 period. Employment, now 436, will rise above 500, he predicted. In total, Next Generation is adding 100 million pounds per year of film and bag production capacity in Lexington in the five-year plan.
Frecka said materials advances make possible the growth in packaging markets. He said Dow Chemical Co. is one of his company's main resin suppliers offering new grades that allow more sophisticated packaging. Converters are also relying on novel laminations to hike properties of their packaging offerings.
“Over the last five years we have been one of the fastest organically growing manufacturers in North America,” Frecka claimed. Many of his rivals are fuelling their growth add-on acquisitions, he noted.
“We are the largest film maker in Ohio,” Frecka said.