Tech-Long Packaging Machinery Co. Ltd., one of the world's largest suppliers of PET stretch blow molding machines and beverage packaging lines, is partnering with another Chinese company, Unique Injection Molding Systems, for joint efforts in the Americas and much of Europe.
Guangzhou, China-based Tech-Long used NPE2018 to introduce the partnership, which will see the company as the exclusive representative of Unique's preform manufacturing systems in North and South America and in Europe, excluding Russia.
"Tech-Long makes the complete bottling lines, and every bottle starts with a preform," said Keith Boss, CEO of Duluth, Ga.-based Tech-Long Americas. "So, it's a very nice synergy to match. At the NPE show, we're trying to demonstrate to the public that a lot of the Unique machines are sized in such a way that they match nicely with the Tech-Long blow molding machine."
Like Tech-Long, Unique's global headquarters are in Guangzhou.
Tech-Long's U.S. market is promising, Boss said.
"Other companies have been investing in China, and Tech-Long's been investing in other markets around the world," he said. "Our business is becoming as big for Tech-Long outside of China as it is inside of China. And I'm really optimistic that's going to continue."
Tech-Long entered the U.S. market in 2012 and invested $5 million in a headquarters near Atlanta in 2015.
"We made a commitment to the U.S. market in 2012, and we've done nothing but invest in the U.S. since that time," he said. "We sold our first line to Sriracha sauce [maker] Huy Fong Foods in California. It's been there now for six years.
"What I'm proud of is that we sell the first system to a customer and they come back and buy a second or third or fourth, right?" he said. "My goal is to get customers and then to keep 'em."
Tech-Long also started manufacturing blow molds in Duluth about six months ago, he said.
"As our installed base grows of the Unique injection molding machine, it makes sense for us to do some manufacturing in the U.S.," he said.
"We spent over $1 million dollars in capital equipment to do that, and we're creating some jobs in Atlanta," he said, noting that three people have been hired there.
At NPE, Tech-Long showed two PET stretch blow molding machines, an eight-cavity machine running a carbonated soft drink bottle at "industry-leading speeds," and, in a product introduction, a newly designed two-cavity machine running oval containers using the company's preferential heating technology.
The two companies have had what Boss termed a "strong affiliation" for several years. Tech-Long in China used to be an investor in Unique, but Boss said that Unique purchased back those shares from Tech-Long in 2017. The firms, however, continue to work together.
He said the partnership also stems in part from a long-term friendship he has with Unique's owner, River Xu.
"River and I have worked together for a long time," said Boss, including at Husky Injection Molding.
He said Tech-Long management also felt that Unique was making gains in the market.
"We've been monitoring the progress that Unique is making, and it's pretty significant, so we want to be part of that," Boss said. "We're very bullish on the product, and we feel we can sell it into our market. I think the market's looking for alternatives."