This Reusable Packaging News interview is with Stephan Kreidler, Sales Director of INFINEX with responsibility for business development in North America. INFINEX is a leading manufacturer of multi directional corrugated polypropylene board, sleeves, packaging and other products.
Stephan Kreidler, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What is your background and how has it shaped your approach with INFINEX?
I am Sales Director and responsible for the business development of INFINEX in North America. My background is the tiling business and I worked for distributers and the industry in different positions for over 20 years, always in sales. Setting up a branch for a German tile-accessory and -system company in California brought me to the U.S. eight years ago. One of the major products in this field is an uncoupling product that ensures perfect and damage free tile setting of large format tiles. This is one of the products that is manufactured by INFINEX and it was only logical to bring in my expertise when offered the job.
Can you tell us a bit about INFINEX in terms of its history and products? How has it been received in Europe?
INFINEX – from “infinity extrusion” – was founded as INTERPLAST in the 1990s by the father of our current owner Mr. Martin Hartl. The revolution at that time was the new production method for manufacturing studded membranes (dimple membranes) in an endless process, which are mainly used for foundation protection or as drainage. With this production method numerous other products were developed that helped take some building techniques to a new and higher level, like our uncoupling or sound reduction mat under flooring applications.
One of these developments was our multi directional corrugated board made of polypropylene, taking a specially designed studded membrane and bonding a flat membrane to each side. This was the beginning of our TRIPLEX Boards and the sleeve packs for durable pallet systems we manufacture today. The boards are used in various applications e.g. in the automotive for dunnage, packaging industry as walls in cases and so on. The demand for strong, durable and long-lasting products of this kind grew rapidly in the past 20 years and made INFINEX to what it is today – a reputable global player in the industry for extruded products with 4 plants in Germany and the Czech Republic.
Why are INFINEX board products desirable for reusable packaging? What types of packaging make sense for Infinex material?
The main features of the INFINEX boards and sleeves are sturdiness, long-living, easy to process, lightweight and, of course, reusability. This makes the product superior to cardboard which in many cases is a one-time packaging product creating a huge amount of waste and demanding great amounts of natural resourses. Let´s take our sleeve packs as an example: the average lifetime our customers see with this product is at least 5 years in continuous daily use. Damages can be repaired easily and at the end of the life cycle, it can be recycled for new products. Thus, this is a great environmental loop without waste.
We see numerous possibilities that make sense for the use of our material:
- customized sleeves and bins in an endless variety of forms and sizes
- individual boxes to the customers demand
- cladding of steel frames for protection
- sturdy, durable and light weight dunnage
- and many more
How do you compare the North American market for hollow core plastic board compared to Europe?
We see a different approach to packaging in Europe than in the North American Market. Due to tighter environmental regulations and legal guidelines the user of packaging is forced to consider more reusable packaging. Long term investments in packaging solutions are required and short time thinking in terms of waste are more and more restricted and fined. This opens a vast field of possibilities for companies like INFINEX who offer solutions and possibilities, constantly developing alternatives and new ideas. The European Market is very open to this. In North America this way of thinking environmentally has yet to be developed and we want to take part in this ongoing process – there are huge possibilities here.
Where are the opportunities for growth? Is it in converting expendable corrugated paper products, or in providing a cheaper alternative to injection molded intermediate bulk containers? Where is the low hanging fruit?
The opportunities for growth are all around! People are starting to wrap their minds around alternative possibilities and solutions in the field of packaging. Not always is the cheapest seaming solution really the cheapest and for sure not the most cost effective one. Investments in long term systems are required. The complexity of supply chain is changing traditional packaging – and that is where the opportunities are. Packaging must be seen in combination with transport, production processes and many other features. In the end that makes the difference and profitability.
I understand you are planning on manufacturing product in the U.S. Can you speak to that plan?
Yes, we are proud to announce that INFINEX is planning to set up manufacturing in the U.S. This gives us the chance to be closer to this most interesting market and to participate in the opportunities. We intend to set up a multi-functional production for most of our range, including studded membranes in all varieties and for many applications mainly in the building sector, as well as for our TRIPLEX Boards and sleeve packs. We are sure that this will lift us to a new level of service and potentials.
You are planning to exhibit at Pack Expo Las Vegas this September. What should we expect?
We are very excited to exhibit in Las Vegas. Most of our current business in North America is on the East Coast, also because of our office in Toronto. We believe that the Pack Expo Las Vegas will bring us a lot of contacts regarding business on the West Coast and Mexico.
INFINEX will be in Vegas with a big booth and with all products available, including our new “Plug & Pack” corner system, the first really working system for joining our reusable polypropylene sleeves with a standard wooden pallet to a reusable system. We are happy to welcome anyone interested in reusable packaging to see us in Las Vegas in September.
You have joined the Reusable Packaging Association. What value have you realized or expect to realize from joining this group?
INIFINEX joined the Reusable Packaging Association to have a starting platform in the market. The RPA offers very good information, reliable background, excellent contacts and lobby work all around reusable packaging. We are sure to participate from these benefits, bring in our expertise and grow the INFINEX business on this side of the world.