TECH-LONG SETS ITS SIGHTS ON THE US
Having risen to the top and seized 15 percent of China’s beverage packaging equipment market, Tech-Long Packaging Machinery Co. Ltd. is now poised to replicate the success in the U.S., the world’s largest packaging market.
The Guangzhou-based company aims to grab 10 to 15 percent of the market share in the Americas in the next five years, said executives in an interview at NPE 2015 (Booth S32001) in Orlando. They included Tech-Long Chairman Zhang Songming, Tech-Long (USA) Inc. CEO Keith Boss and managing director Johnson Zhang.
The company is debuting its G5 rotary stretch blow molding machines in the United States. The G5 touts single-cavity outputs of up to 2,400 bottles per hour on machines from 6 to 32 cavities, while reducing energy use by 10 to 15 percent and improving high-compressed air recovery to up to 55 percent.
The high performance is achieved by the use of servo-motors instead of pneumatic stretch rods; an integrated gripper system for faster bottle discharge from the molds; and a new programmable logic control, which also features a 15-inch touch-screen user interface. An integrated blowing unit reduces dead zone air and overall air use. Six valves are used for pre-blow; second blow; main blow; first cycle; second cycle and air exhaust. The machine requires no low-pressure compressed air. Preforms are automatically inserted and discharged with less space between each.
Tech-Long also is demonstrating a PET preform injection machine made by Guangzhou Unique Injection Molding Systems Co. Ltd., of which Tech-Long holds a 44.9 percent stake.
Zhang Songming founded the company in 1999. In 16 years, he has built the company into a leader in the Chinese industry. In the blow molding machine market, for instance, “70 to 80 percent of the domestic brand machines in China come from Tech-Long,” he said.
The company has also played a key role in drafting national standards for the industry.
Outside of China, Tech-Long has also been making successful inroads into international markets. It has 2,300 lines running in 80 countries. It has partnered with global giants like Procter & Gamble, Unilever and PepsiCo, just to name a few.
“We supply filling lines to P&G’s global locations, not just China, but also Cincinnati, France, Czech Republic and Russia, and elsewhere,” Zhang Songming said.
Tech-Long’s ongoing push in the U.S. market is built on the foundation of four years of preparation, said Johnson Zhang, who set up the Commerce, Calif.-based Americas headquarters in December 2011.
“We wanted to build a solid service and support system before pushing for sales,” added Zhang Songming.
In addition to the California headquarters, Tech-Long USA also plans to open a facility on the East Coast before the end of the year.
Boss, who is currently based in Atlanta, said the company has already picked the location but is not ready to announce yet.
“It will be a 25,000-square-foot facility with machines, spare parts and service,” he said. “We’ll have injection molding, blow molding and packaging equipment.”
The company has sold 25 blow molders in the Americas, nine of them in the United States.
The G5 machine at the booth will be shipped to a customer in Texas after the show.
“We are not so concerned with sales,” Johnson Zhang said, “Our higher priority is market recognition of our technology and brand. We want the highest customer satisfaction.”
“We are sending the signal to the market that we are taking root here and have long term plans,” Zhang Songming said. “We want customers to have faith and trust in us.”
The trust should be coming from technology. “We are confident that our technology is on par or better than any blow molding machine manufacturer in the world,” he said. In fact, technology has always been Tech Long’s first and foremost focus.
The publicly listed company said it invests 5 to 7 percent of its annual sales into R&D. It holds more than 70 patents. “I hope the industry can recognize that we have developed our own technology and it’s top-notch, we are not just competing on price points.”
He added that the Tech-Long machines are easy to maintain with smart designs.
With customers like P&G adapting Tech-Long equipment globally, “our products have proven themselves over the past decade or so,” he said.
Bringing industry veteran Boss on board is an integral part of Tech-Long’s global expansion, Johnson Zhang said.
Before joining Tech-Long, Boss was vice president and general manager of North America at Sidel’s North American headquarters in Norcross, Ga. He also worked for Husky in Asia, Europe and the U.S. for more than two decades, during which time the company grew its sales by more than 20 times.
He said he joined Tech-Long because he sees the same type of growth potential as he did when he joined Husky.
“Tech-Long is indeed ready for expansion in the Americas,” he said.
Tech-Long’s preliminary results show 2014 sales of 949.6 million yuan ($152.8 million) and 12.9 million yuan ($2 million) of net profit.