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Winnipeg’s COLOR AD PACKAGING finds its sweet spot

For any hockey fans working at Winnipeg-based flexible packaging manufacturer Color Ad Packaging Ltd., these are salad days. First, you’ve got the Jets back. Second, Color Ad’s business is booming.


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April 8, 2013 by Canadian Plastics

The W&H Miraflex unit on the shop floor.
The W&H Miraflex unit on the shop floor.

For any hockey fans working at Winnipeg-based flexible packaging manufacturer Color Ad Packaging Ltd., these are salad days. First, you’ve got the Jets back. Second, Color Ad’s business is booming.

Serving primarily confectionery, snack food and beverage markets, Color Ad is

North America’s largest producer of laminated pre-formed bags as well as a leading supplier of stand up pouches and roll stock products. But it wasn’t always that way. Founded 12 years ago, the company started primarily as a rollset roll stock label manufacturer and increasingly branched into paper packaging structures in 2006 with the purchase of WinpakTechnologies, of Toronto. “Color Ad was then making popcorn bags for all of North America after the Winpak purchase, which was, for the most part, a mature, lower end market,” said Chip Batten, Color Ad’s new president and CEO. “The original ownership shortly thereafter began to run into financial difficulty and the company then looked to seek out new financing or partnerships to allow it to meet its future growth aspirations.” 

SOPHISTICATED REBIRTH

Color Ad’s rebirth began in 2011, when it was purchased by well-known Canadian entrepreneur, businessman, and philanthropist G. Raymond Chang. “We wanted to get into more sophisticated packaging products, and new ownership allowed us to do that,” Batten said. “We aggressively pursued the high end chocolate bag market – almost all of which was originally being manufactured in Germany at the time – and succeeded, to the point where we now service about 80 per cent of that market in North America.” 

Not that they’ve given up on the popcorn bags. “The traditional popcorn bag has become an effective marketing tool for advertisers, and we are there to meet that need,” Batten said. “There was a time when we needed to account for a rather long lead time for these promotional theatre bags. However, advances in technology have allowed us to cut the turnaround time significantly over the past few years”

Color Ad’s future move into such areas as “cold seal” related packaging products is partly responsible for sizeable orders of new flexible packaging equipment the company placed recently, including a 10 color Heliostar gravure press, a 10 color, wide web, Miraflex flexographic press, and three Triumph bag machines from Windmoeller & Hoelscher (W&H); and a Nordmeccanica laminator. “The Miraflex CM 10 flexographic press has a 48 inch working width, and is equipped with a color matching system, automatic wash-up system, and technology for impression setting and 3D plate topography,” Batten said. “The Heliostar SL 10 gravure press has a 48 inch working width and is the first W&H gravure press in North America to be installed with automatic wash-up. The Triumph bag formers are versatile machines used in the production of a variety of square bottom bags.”

The Nordmeccanica laminator, meanwhile, will allow Color Ad to laminate three layers of substrate in one pass, mixing combinations of paper, polyethylene, polyester, and or oriented polypropylene. And it’s not small, busting the tape measure at a whopping 100 feet long. 

Add to these new arrivals the 16 bag making machines already on the Color Ad shop floor, and you can see why the company plans to expand its 250,000-square-foot facility. “Our current machine installations will take the remainder of this year, and the plant expansion is planned for 2014,” Batten said.

So what’s Color Ad’s end goal? Turns out they’ve almost reached it. “Our focus under new management was to become a nimble, quick turnaround company with capacity in flexible packaging, and we’ve found our sweet spot as a mid-range volume player with high quality, positioned between the smaller mom-and-pop shops and the major multinationals,” Batten said. “Business is excellent at the moment, and we expect to double our growth by 2014. Our customers understand the value we can bring, and now we have to step up and meet the new demand.”

Now if only the Jets can clinch a playoff spot.