Farnell Packaging Ltd.

This family-owned flexible packager is a big part of Dartmouth's past, present, and future.

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September 1, 2012 by Canadian Plastics

Integrated converter Farnell Packaging Ltd. isn’t just located in Dartmouth, N.S. — it developed almost literally alongside the city. Dartmouth was incorporated as a city in 1961, the same year in which the company was created by grocery executive Don Farnell and his wife Amy. 

Dartmouth has grown some since then, and Farnell Packaging has gone on to make its mark across North America with its innovative flexible packaging solutions. The company serves customers from coast to coast in Canada, has a U.S. market in the New England states and as far west as North Dakota, and also does business in Europe. 


The beginnings were humble enough. The company’s first foray into the manufacturing world was in the late 1960s with the purchase of a used Tayo bag machine. With this technology they began creating their “Big Boy” brand of poly bag products. By the mid-1980s, the company, now known by its current name, had become a fully integrated operation, extruding, printing, and converting polyethylene and LLDPE films into finished products such as bags, rollstock, and sheets. Nowadays based out of a modern, 80,000-square-foot facility, the operation features blown film and converting systems, with mono-layer and co-extrusion lines supplied by Macro Engineering and Technology Inc., and Brampton Engineering; and printing equipment that includes an eight-color, 52-inch PrimaFlex CM flexographic printing press and an eight-color, 52-inch NovoFlex press, both from Windmoeller & Hoelscher Corporation.

The company’s product portfolio includes the Olympic brand films, which have been optimized for use on high-speed form-fill-seal machinery; Opaltone digital print imaging technology that digitally mixes process inks to create more colors from less ink; remote proofing services and web-based press approval tools; and its PRO2010 blends of film. From the start, food packaging has been at the heart of the business. “Currently, it represents about 80 per cent of what we do,” said David Stanfield, Farnell’s vice president of sales and marketing.


Farnell has racked up an impressive number of achievements in its 50-odd years. It developed an award-winning compostable film packaging application — now in its fifth generation, the product was recently granted use of the Biodegradable Film Product Institute logo, certifying it 100 per cent compostable as per the American Society of Testing and Materials standards. “We’re also one of the few companies in Canada to have achieved the PAC-Packaging Association’s PACSecure certification, which is based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) criteria and recognized by the United Nations and most of the food industry worldwide,” Stanfield said. Along the way, the company has taken home almost as many medals as Michael Phelps: in 2011, Farnell won the gold at the Canadian Printing Awards for excellence in quality printing, environmental initiatives, and industry contribution; and earlier this year, it was awarded the bronze Halifax Business Award for Business of the Year. 

Through it all, the company — which currently employs 160 workers in a 24/7 operation — has remained family-owned. At present, three generations of Farnells are involved, headed by co-founder Amy Farnell, who assumed the role of president after Don Farnell — the recipient of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association’s 2004 Leader of the Year award — passed away in 2010. 

With five decades under its belt, how did Farnell handle the worst recession in over eight decades? “We weathered it well; we had a record year in 2009, leveled off in 2010, began growing again in 2011, and we’re now hiring again,” Stanfield said. “We owe our success throughout to our excellent customer base. We listen to them, and try to get in front of the changes they might want. Our goal is to be the flexible packaging company of choice by putting the customer at the centre of what we do.”

Farnell Packaging Ltd. (Dartmouth, N.S.);
www.farnell.ns.ca; 800-565-9373