South Elgin, Ill. — The seed for Hoffer Plastics Corp.'s recent growth was planted more than a decade ago — even before the company won the Plastics News Processor of the Year award in 2012 — according to Alex Hoffer.
"To be able to tell the whole story, we have to go back to a conference room in 2009, when we were doing strategic planning, because we recognized at the time that we had a customer — and they're still one of our largest customers, and we love them dearly — that too much of our business was coming from," Alex Hoffer said.
"So the question that the group asked was, 'What happens if they went away?'"
The strategic answer to that question was to develop a proprietary product. The move marked a big departure from Hoffer Plastics' roots in custom injection molding.
"For a long, long time, we did not want to be design responsible," William Hoffer said. But the family-owned molder had the talent on staff to develop a product, plus strong relationships with customers, suppliers and design engineers that would prove essential to making it happen.
The result was a line of closures for flexible pouch packaging called Trust-T-Lok that met a need in the food and beverage industry. Trust-T-Lok offered brand owners seal integrity and tamper evidence, and it met choke-proof requirements for children and toddlers. It was compatible with producers' existing equipment, and Hoffer could offer it in a variety of shapes, colors and materials, depending on the customer.
"At the beginning of Trust-T-Lok, we had to get the specs, we had to understand the quality requirements, and we had to know all of the regulations relative to tamper evidence and childproofing and all that," William Hoffer said.
He remembers it as a fun project that fit well in the company's culture of putting service first.