Volume 15 | Issue 3 | Year 2012

A wide gulf exists between the manufacturing industry’s capabilities and its available human resources. Manufacturers have developed increasingly sophisticated technology, but who is skilled enough to operate the equipment?
That’s a question that XPAK wants to have answered.

As studies recently conducted by Deloitte and the World Economic Forum indicate, millions of manufacturing jobs remain unfilled despite the high unemployment rate.

XPAK is a case in point. The North Brunswick, N.J-based company boasts advanced technology that advances the enterprise’s mission. But company roster and skill strength is anemic; talent level remains depleted.

“Finding qualified skilled workers remains a big problem,” says Juan Ortiz, vice president of business development for XPAK, the Americas.

It’s a riddle that that runs through the entire manufacturing sector, and it seems there’s no revolve. It’s a frustrating conundrum. Why can’t manufacturers fill their ranks when there are so many companies looking for workers and so many people seeking jobs?

“We’re taken aback,” says Ortiz. “What gives? So many people are out of work. We’re hoping to make manufacturing appear an attractive and viable career option,” says Ortiz.

As such, XPAK is more than willing to train, with the hopes of bringing a new generation of young people into its corporate ranks.

And training will be crucial, but the company concedes it’s not a panacea. “It will be difficult to get the young people up to speed on various disciplines,” says Ortiz. “Right now, we realize that it’s going to take a long time to get the manufacturing sector up to speed, as far as the necessary human resources. That’s our biggest challenge.”

NO STRANGER TO CHALLENGE
But XPAK USA should be up to the task. After all, XPAK has developed equipment that helps leading food & beverage companies – e.g., Coca-Cola and PepsiCo – robotically bundle their product. When it’s not possible to bring in human resources, XPAK has deployed Fanuc Robotics, which it has configured into its North American (New Jersey) and South American (Argentina) locations. As company owner Tami Minond has previously commented, a machinist is a “rare bird” in New Jersey.

Surely, Minond is no stranger to challenge. XPAK USA is a woman-owned business in a male-dominated business sector. She’s not only co-founder and owner, she’s also chief executive officer.

Ortiz relates how this came about. “She was part of another company that she formed with her husband Jim, a man with a lot of business contacts,” relates Ortiz. “The company was involved with a packaging equipment enterprise; it had been around for about 13 years, and when the partnership eroded, a new company was started.”

TARGETING THE TOP
That began with Tami Minond’s market analysis. She sought to determine a new and viable area to start a new company, recalls Ortiz. Her aim proved true. “She found that the packaging market, though saturated, represented a multi-billion dollar area,” he continues. “And certain market specific segments were attractive, like the food and beverage industries. Focusing on the market and its specific segments of opportunity, the company came up with a product definition that worked.”

Companies like PepsiCo and Dr. Pepper had their own facilities but also partnered with companies that provided co-packing services, and these co-packers provided services for other companies, which created an environment requiring a high flexibility level, as well as cost-aggressive management. So, the market segment witnessed that the traditional OEMs were underserving, because customization of equipment was expensive.

That helped XPAK better define its product line and helped keep it afloat in the years impacted by the economic downturn. “We were able to service clients with a need that other OEMs couldn’t service,” recalls Ortiz, about those difficult years. “That is how we began in 2006 and that is what carried us through.”

Subsequently, growth has been dramatic, Ortiz relates. “The market segment has grown substantially, because the club stores that provide beverage packs seek variation,” he explains. “So we take the base product and package it to meet the demand.”

MOVING FORWARD
As the economy picks up, companies look to XPAK to provide equipment that offers highest levels of quality packaging machinery. The machinery must, in turn, provide the most positive impact on productivity.

Indeed, by integrating innovative design, precise manufacturing and comprehensive on-site services, XPAK has gained the trust and support of the major players in the food and beverage industries in North and South America.