The first quarter of 2012 is now behind us. 2012 has been a unique year so far in many ways. We almost did not have a winter here in the east and spring actually arrived in February: very strange.
The first quarter was very busy with customers releasing cans at a very aggressive pace. The level of activity and the broad number of industries represented (industrial, chemical, beverage, snacks, food, confections, etc.) shows a true recovery across the board. Thank you to everyone.
Independent Can Company is in an industry that many people consider “traditional, smoke stack, not innovative, old”. These beliefs are so wrong. The innovations in the can business are dramatic:
|Beverage||Aluminum bottle cans, lighter gauge, fully 100% recyclable and more|
|Food Sanitary Cans||Shaped cans, lighter gauge, fully 100% recyclable and more|
|Specialty||Faster concept to delivery of new shapes, sizes and designs than ever before, 100% recyclable, lighter gauge (lower cost)|
The can manufacturing business is global. Steel mills are located in all developed and developing countries in the world. Can manufacturers are located in these same countries. This is why we participate in organizations and meetings globally. In the past year we have attended meetings in the following countries: Italy (2 trips), England, Germany, Switzerland, Turkey (several trips), China, Dubai and Israel. In the next 3 months we have meetings scheduled in China, Holland and Germany. In addition to attending meetings and conferences we have bought equipment from 6 countries.
Steel: 90% or more of the steel we use is produced in the United States. Unfortunately the global investment in the production of tinplate is being made in the developing countries (China and India). In the future we may have to import more tinplate to meet our needs.
The most exciting development in the past 2 years has been the shift in where tins are being made. In the past 2 years we have begun making tins in our plants in the United States that were previously made in China. We are currently installing and will have a line operational in May that will be directed specifically to replace tins that are currently 100% imported (more to follow).
I hope that you can feel the excitement that we have for the business and the future of the can business here in the United States.
What’s New Winter 2012
I am writing this What’s New update the last week in January wondering where 2011 went. 2011 flew by and now looking back this was a good year. What happened in 2011 that made this year good and one that we will remember?
Promotional tins projects returned (customers were more confident in the economy)
- Reshoring major projects (tins formerly made in China now being made in the USA)
- New C-3 coater- The most advanced high speed Eco-Friendly thermal coater available
- The retirement of some really good long term employees who will be missed.
- The addition of some really talented new employees with new ideas and experience.
As we close out 2011 we must all thank our customers for having the faith in Independent Can to allow us to supply a portion of their packaging needs. We are aware that everyone has options as to what type of package they will use for their unique products and in this world there are a huge number of choices. Some of the factors are:
- Environmental friendly/recyclable
- Speed of delivery
- Perceived value imparted to the product being packaged.
- Reuse of the package and the continuing advertising value of the graphics
- Confidence in the supplier to perform
- Quality and consistency of the product being supplied
- The willingness of a vendor to change processes to meet the customers’ needs
I am sure that the list could go on and on although these are some that I think about as questions and opportunities are presented. We do work hard to meet your every need and expectation.
Again THANK YOU for your support…………………………………………
2012 has begun at a very high level of activity with sales ahead of 1 year ago and many projects underway that will start up during the spring months.
2 new can lines will start up in this spring.
- In May we will begin a major overhaul on the Hand I Oil line (products packaged: light oils and lighter fluid).
- One thermal coater is being overhauled and will be operational in February.
- Tooling a couple of new can sizes which will allow more tins to be sourced domestically for both mass merchants and specialty customers.
There are the normal overhaul work and line reconfigurations that we do each year allowing more efficient operations based upon the ever changing market place.
2012 New Stock design Catalogue:
The new Catalogue has been revised to reflect tins grouped by design to help you easily see the complementary sizes that are available to you.
For the seasonal customers please let us know how we performed in 2011 and any future needs that you may have as we are constantly looking for process improvement to better service the fall gift giving time of the year. The fall is challenging for all of us due to short lead times and constantly changing needs so advance discussions are critical.
Customers who plan to come to the Baltimore, MD or the Philadelphia, PA areas should consider allowing time to come and visit our plant. Face to face visits are very helpful to our understanding your needs. We also think that you will learn by seeing how we make the products that you are using. The more we know about each other the better we are at servicing your needs.
Thank you and we look forward to serving a portion of your packaging needs in 2012.
What’s New Fall 2011:
We are now definitely in the fall season. The weather has changed and people are now beginning to think about the gift giving time of the year. The activity levels have been strong all year although the stock tins are now really accelerating. I spoke with Beth Huber our Inside Sales Manager and she said that our lead-time is now running about 2-3 weeks with a few items a little longer.
If you listen to the news the economy sounds as though it is lot worse than it appears to be. We have seen a steady recovery across most of our product lines: decorative tins, Industrial tins and lithography.
It appears that our customers that produce and package food products as gifts are finding that this type of gift will accommodate a whole family making it an economical way to show appreciation. The tin makes the gift a memory.
Reshoring: I had not heard the term “reshoring” until just recently. Reshoring is the opposite of offshoring or sending work overseas. In the past 2 years we have reshored more than 2 million dollars’ worth of tins and components that were imported either by us or others. The Chinese Yuan has appreciated against the dollar by 3.7% this year. This means just on currency the US dollar does not buy as many goods as it did one year ago. In addition to currency the cost of individual products has become more expensive in the low cost countries due to higher labor and logistics costs.
We have one new customer that is a foreign owned manufacturer that built a plant in the United States to protect the items that they were shipping into the US. This is providing jobs in their manufacturing and we are providing printing services to them.
We believe that the United States could be poised for resurgence in manufacturing. MADE IN AMERICA is back.
Investments: Over the past several years we have been very actively investing in more productive equipment and processes. The future belongs to those that build flexibility and efficiency into their manufacturing businesses.
The latest process installation is a new thermal coater and drying oven. This system places a clear or opaque coating on the surface of the metal in preparation for printing. What makes this system so unique? The line we are installing will run 33% faster than the next fastest line and will use 30% less energy to operate. This means we will be more efficient in our process, while we exhaust less CO-2 (a good steward of the environment.) Start up scheduled for mid-November 2011.
We have hired about 15 people in the past 6 months although it has been truly challenging to find the skilled individuals that match our technical needs and also fit comfortably into our culture. The future is bright in our manufacturing if we are able to find the skills and talent: machinists, mechanics, printing pressman, scheduling managers, sales and sales service, prepress technicians and many other jobs and tasks.
As a company we feel really excited and positive about the future of can making and the creative opportunities set before us. There will be challenges for us and our customers although working together to bring new value added metal packaging to the market place will result in a vibrant growing demand. We need customers and employees with vision.
As a customer or a prospective customer of Independent Can thank you for reading this What’s New article. Please continue to challenge us to provide the products that you require but also the type of packaging that you see “required” in the future.
I hope that you also know, but just in case you do not, we also import cans, glass, plastic containers and components and other items from all around the world. We do provide this service to meet the need of our customer where we do not have the in-house capability. Please allow us to provide you with information and quotations on all of your packaging needs. If we do not make an item we will either source it for you or refer you to the best potential supplier we are able to find for you.
President can CEO