Canadian Plastics

Shepherd Thermoforming buys larger facility, revamps marketing approach

By Rebecca Reid, associate editor   

To ensure its ability to accommodate new business and grow its operations, Shepherd Thermoforming & Packaging Inc., has purchased a new 40,000 square foot (sq. ft.) facility in Brampton, Ont....

To ensure its ability to accommodate new business and grow its operations, Shepherd Thermoforming & Packaging Inc., has purchased a new 40,000 square foot (sq. ft.) facility in Brampton, Ont.

Starting October 2006, Shepherd will move all its manufacturing and administrative operations to new site located in Brampton’s east end.

“The move was made necessary as a result of the lack of power and space in our present location at Clarence St. in Brampton. We grew from 6,000 square feet to 36,000 square feet over the 13 years at our leased facility,” said company President, Barry Shepherd.

Shepherd’s tool and design capabilities will heavily influence the layout of the new facility to give the technical staff room to grow, he added.


Shepherd has already increased the size of its engineering team from one person four years ago, to eight in 2006. And because its two salespeople are also experienced in the engineering side of the business, Shepherd counts it engineering team as 10.

Even though Shepherd’s business is split half-and-half between sheet-fed and roll-fed production, the sheet-fed portion of the operations will take up the lion’s share of the new shop floor. That’s because heavy gauge products require more space for multiple operations and assembly, Shepherd noted.

And because Shepherd’s customer base has shifted so drastically in the past five years, the company is also retooling its marketing strategy to better reflect its current clients.

“Many of our retail packaging customers have moved their manufacturing offshore along with their purchases of clamshells and blisters,” Shepherd said. “We have seen a big swing in our sales toward ‘returnable’ and ‘single-trip’ automation pallets and trays as well as to OEM parts. Our special products such as our detergent scoops have shown resurgence of late and new resins are coming along to open up new opportunities also.”

This market is a key part of Shepherd’s new marketing strategy, which highlights the four main markets it serves: retail packaging, materials handling, OEM parts and specialty products.

The thermoforming market is growing in general, Shepherd said, because it is taking business away from other processes like injection molding simply because of the lower cost of tooling. Shepherd has over 1,000 customers, with about 150 active at any given time.

“A lot of our projects are becoming longer, so the number of projects may be less but the size of the projects themselves are bigger,” he said.

Plus, the introduction of new grades of resin are opening up more doors for thermoformed applications in automotive, such as paint film, he added.

Recently, Shepherd was involved in the restoration of the Halifax Bomber, an aircraft shot down during World War II by German anti-aircraft fire on April 23, 1945, killing all but one of its six crew members.

Shepherd thermoformed the nose cone from a heavy-gauge PETG, which is polyethylene terephthalate modified with cyclohexanedimethanol (CHDM), even though the material hadn’t been invented when the original bomber was built in 1944.

Initially, the restoration team had attempted to construct the nose cone from acrylic but discovered the tooling it had built was not suitable for the material, and because time was short, the restoration team agreed with Shepherd that the PETG solution was the only viable option, Shepherd said.

The Halifax Bomber is on display at the Royal Canadian Air Force Memorial Museum in Trenton, Ont.


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