AEROSOL EUROPE Vol. 20, No. 11–2012 pages 7-9
(Picture: Gerrit Verhagen left, Roel Zeevat right)
AEROSOL EUROPE: Plasticum Group is a leading European manufacturer of plastic packaging solutions. Could you please describe your current position in the international aerosol industry?
Gerrit Verhagen: Plasticum Group is a mid-size company in the European injection moulding market. At present, we have 4 operating companies based in Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In all countries we develop and produce components for the aerosol industry. Having said this, the major developments on aerosol products are managed in our Excellence Centre in Tilburg, the Netherlands. The products we supply to the aerosol market are overcaps and spraycaps. In overcaps we have a very strong position and in spraycaps we position ourselves different than our competitors, by means of our Integrated Spray Technology. This technology is not only cost effective, but offers our customers the option of buying a spraycap without being bound to the valve manufacturer.
AEROSOL EUROPE: Could you give our readers an idea of your product range?
Roel Zeevat: Our core business consists of Caps & Closures. Under these main categories, we are active in specifically chosen niches with specific product groups. In the category Caps we have dominant positions in Aerosol Overcaps & Spraycaps, but also in Nutrition Caps (and scoops). Our Closures business is used both in food where we have a dominant position in top-down valve closures, as well as non-food markets. Plasticum strives to be the market leader in each niche where we are active.
AEROSOL EUROPE: What are your core markets?
Gerrit Verhagen: The markets we mainly serve in the aerosol industry are Personal Care, Household & Technical. Our customer base consists of (global) A-brands, local brands and contract fillers. As you can see, this offers us the benefit of a deep understanding of the aerosol market and hence we can develop adequate product concepts which address to the market trends.
AEROSOL EUROPE: How would you see the markets in Eastern Europe and especially in Russia or Ukraine?
Roel Zeevat: We follow these markets with great interest. So far our possibilities in these countries were limited, since we didn't have local manufacturing sites. However, Plasticum has recently been acquired by Lindsay Goldberg, offering us an entry to manufacturing sites in Russia and Hungary. We will take every opportunity to roll-out our strategy to Eastern Europe.
AEROSOL EUROPE: Could you tell our readers something about your market share in Europe today?
Gerrit Verhagen: The European aerosol market is over 5 billion cans. Based on our knowledge, we can state that 40% of all cans use a Plasticum component.
AEROSOL EUROPE: What is your global market share? Where do you still see growth markets?
Roel Zeevat: At present we mainly serve the European market, as you would expect from a European based company. Therefore, we do not have a significant market share outside Europe. From a strategic point of view we indeed have the desire to spread our wings on a global level, not in the least because our major global customers ask us to follow them. The acquisition by Lindsay Goldberg offers us access to the global market. We specifically see possibilities in the emerging markets in South America and Asia.
AEROSOL EUROPE: You have several production sites throughout Europe. Could you please tell our readers how your communications are organized within the different plants?
Roel Zeevat: Plasticum Group is organized in a very flat structure, enabling fast decision making and fluid access to market information. Principally, we produce our products in the plant nearest to the customer. Our Sales & Innovations team is not allocated to a specific plant, but works very closely together as a category team. This structure enables a high degree of responsiveness. Customers buying from multiple plants are commercially served centrally by one key account manager.
AEROSOL EUROPE: Your company's strategy: customer driven, innovative, cost-effective and sustainable seems to be very "simple" but also very successful. What are the processes behind the strategy?
Roel Zeevat: As indicated earlier in the interview, we believe that we can serve the market best in a central way. Our sales team is not only managing the running business with our customers, but has a very strong focus on business development. The actual developments are performed by our Excellence Centre in Tilburg, where we develop both customized projects and Plasticum proprietary products. In all projects, we look for improvements of the existing concepts. The improvements we seek are not only related to the physical product, but also to the way of processing (both at Plasticum as well as at our customers' plant), packaging, sustainability, logistics, etc. Last, but not least, we understand that our customers are continuously striving for cost savings. In order to launch a successful development, it is mandatory to accomplish a cost effective solution to the market. It indeed sounds very simple but as always the success is in the execution, which is done by our people. The real difference that makes us successful is an organisation with great people that are focussed on execution!
AEROSOL EUROPE: Will there be any changes after Lindsay Goldberg's recent acquisition of Plasticum Group?
Roel Zeevat: The recent acquisition (September 2012) by Lindsay Goldberg greatly increases our territory and possibilities. Optimizing the synergies, we will be able to offer a larger range of products and services to our valued customers. Lindsay Goldberg is a respective company with a long term investment horizon, with a focus on growth. We are now in the process of determining the details of the strategy forward and we will soon be able to communicate our plan to our customers.
AEROSOL EUROPE: There were several innovations in the caps, actuators and closures business lately. Do you have any examples?
Gerrit Verhagen: Let me introduce two different examples, one being an overcap, the other a spraycap. For many years Plasticum has supplied a standard NI 65/50 overcap for tinplate cans. Due to overcapacity in the market and the high demand, margins have always been under pressure, even more severe due to the volatile resin prices. The products have always been tumble-packed, sometimes leading to quality issues at our customers. Two years ago we started a project with a very simple leading question: Develop the next decade specification, looking at quality, logistics, cost and sustainability. We involved several customers in the project and ended up with a cap, which consumes less resin and which is automatically stacked in a carton in layers. For one specific customer we calculated the benefits: 5.000 cartons less handling in their facility, 10 full truck loads less to unload, over 200 pallets less handling and storage, ovality of caps brought back to zero. Even the marketing cost (packaging tax) of our customer decreased substantially as a result of the weight reduction. As you can easily determine, this product called Sunshine, brings benefits to all stakeholders.
Also in spraycaps we achieved a major innovation through our patented Integrated Spray Technology. The technology offers basically a spraycap without a separate insert. The functionality of the insert is however present. We achieved this functionality by injection moulding the insert configuration directly into the spraycap. We can easily adjust the configuration by interchangeable parts in the mould, in order to achieve different spray characteristics. In the meantime we have developed configurations for many applications, like insecticides, hairspray, deodorant, anti-perspirant, air-fresheners, shoe care etc. Customers have approved these configurations and are awarded with a very cost competitive spraycap. Due to the fact that we do not need to assemble a separate insert, we can also offer our customers a customized solution at a limited investment hurdle. Plasticum already has wide range of spraycaps and the latest addition, called Jill, promises another success.
AEROSOL EUROPE: What would you consider the most relevant issue which needs to be discussed in the aerosol industry at the moment?
Gerrit Verhagen: I believe all stakeholders should combine their efforts in bringing further innovations to the market. For too long, companies have been developing their own programs, whilst we can all, obviously, better join our specific knowhow. This will lead to cost effective innovations to the market, and that is exactly what we feel that is required now.
AEROSOL EUROPE: To your opinion, what challenges does our industry face in the future?
Gerrit Verhagen: One is related to the question above; the economical situation requires adequate developments, leading to lower integral costs and expenses for consumers, whilst simultaneously improving profitability to our industry. Next to that, I would say that the need for sustainability should lead to innovative solutions.
AEROSOL EUROPE: Mr Zeevat and Mr Verhagen, thank you for this interview.
15 Jan 2013