Packaging Products (Coatings) Ltd is one of Europe’s largest manufacturers of non-slip pallet liners, waterproof paper and board serving a wide range of industries home and abroad. With many years experience in the packaging industry, Packaging Products (Coatings) Ltd has occupied the same production and paper manufacturing site in Collyhurst, Manchester since 1841. Paul Andrews spoke to family director Peter Cornford and non-family director Gary McNeely to find out more.
In recent years, Packaging Products (Coatings) Ltd has combined their vast experience with modern technology to develop non slip papers. These recyclable products compliment the traditional bitumen and wax papers that they manufacture and their finished products are now used widely in a variety of industries including food, healthcare, automotive, building and furniture.
This is a family business that can only be described as a ‘hidden gem.’ They are based in premises in the heart of Manchester and despite the frontage of the building looking small to the eye, it opens up into a labyrinth of spaces in a building that just goes on and on.
Every space is well utilised and affords the opportunity to store raw materials, finished products and to invest in the business and to introduce new production lines. Like many family firms that have stood the test of time, it is the reinvestment and innovation that has enabled the business to continue, to remain relevant to the needs of their customers and to flourish.
Family is at the heart of the business which is owned and run by Peter, his two brothers and Gary. Prior to joining the family firm Peter worked in a bank and Gary was a financial adviser. As friends they worked together and have spent time with families and when the opportunity arose for Peter to join the family business he knew that he needed as strong team around him of people whom could be trusted and Gary joined the business.
Over time the nature of the business has changed. As Peter explains, “bitumen papers are still produced and there is demand for them but we have also evolved and introduced new products such as the anti-slip products which are now a core product.”
“There are plenty of applications for them with regards pallet transportation where they are inserted between layers to prevent products moving which reduces damage and waste in transportation and they are also used on the floor of lorries to prevent pallets slipping too,” he adds.
To accommodate the new anti-slip products they have invested in the business, building new machinery based on in-house knowledge and experience, sourced local labour, the support of local family firms and are proud to say that all of their products are proudly ‘Made in Britain’ too.
Like other family firms the prevailing economic climate and associated pressures have to be contended with. As Gary adds, “There are supply chain issues within the sector, mills closing and reducing capacity and increased costs which are passed on to businesses like ours. It is a constantly changing environment and we have even been notified of price increases whilst a shipment is on the water on the way to us!”
“Added to the supply chain costs the business has also seen price increases of other raw materials and there have been increased energy costs too,” continues Peter. “Having said that, we are very optimistic about the future as the new machinery has doubled our output capacity using the same manpower so we are managing to move forward with more products and to grow our customer base further,” he adds.
This family business has its eyes on the future with new market opportunities being developed for their non-slip solutions which also affords environmental benefits to customers as it significantly reduces the need for shrink-wrapping, reducing the use of plastics and the paper products are also fully recyclable.
In terms of family involvement going forward it is not clear as of yet where it will go as the next generation are still in their early teens and younger but there are some great opportunities in the event that they do want to take it on. “I want to carry on running the business,” continues Peter “and still get excited about our products and their applications. There are opportunities for the next generation to come through in time and take it on, we have a brilliant team of staff supporting us on the journey and I am excited about where we are going.”
“My father undertook an MBO of the business and for me there is so much pride and passion to continue to build the business that he believed in. The current economic climate does not make running a business easy but we have some great, loyal customers and the relationships that we have with them are important and we work closely together to grow together too.”
Peter and Gary firmly believe that being a family business is a real advantage too. “As a family business we are more agile and can make swift decisions when they are needed,” explains Peter.
Real time decisions and our ability to respond means that we are always on point, managing situations and dealing with the economic challenges that present themselves, and we are always looking to the future, making improvements and investing in new ways of doing things too,” he adds.
As Gary continues, “Our people are key to who we are as a business too. We look after them and are invested in them as an integral part of what we do and this has helped to create a culture of loyalty and a team that works well together, focused on making it work. We have plenty of employees that have been with us for many years and plenty of examples of generations of families that have worked for the business too.”
Walking around the business provides a great opportunity to see the products being manufactured and the labyrinth of spaces really does lead to a journey of discovery. There are so many family firms doing things behind close doors that could so easily pass us by in terms of the impact they have and Packaging Products (Coatings) Ltd is one such gem. They manufacture products that have a direct impact on the way that others operate, transport the items that many of us consume on a daily basis, help to reduce damage and waste, and through their continued innovation make a positive impact on the environment too.
They have been on a journey as a business since way back in 1841 and we look forward to continuing to follow their journey as a family business into the future.