Scott: I have more than 20 years of experience in creating and selling new material handling products within the reusables market. I’ve been with Polymer Solutions International since 2008 where I’ve focused primarily on international markets.
RPA Editor: What are the company’s flagship products?
Scott: We are the world’s largest manufacturer of modular plastic racks to the bottled water industry. Our strongest product line is the ProStack® brand. About 6 years ago, we started manufacturing plastic pallets for use with our plastic racks. Today, we are striving to become the predominant supplier of quality plastic pallets for the food and pharmaceutical markets in the US. Only about 7 percent of companies in these markets are using plastic pallets so there is a lot of growth opportunity here, especially with the growing emphasis on food safety.
RPA Editor: What are the company’s competitive advantages?
Scott: There are three areas where we stand apart from the competition. One, the quality of our design and products; two, we are easy to do business with; and three, the rigorous testing and quality control processes we undertake before releasing a product commercially.
We believe the key to successful implementation of reusable packaging is to completely understand the entire supply chain loop and all its subtle nuances. It is often the little, sometimes overlooked, factors that can create problems. An adjustment of a milliliter in the design of a product can make a big difference. So before we begin designing a product, we do considerable research to understand all the nuances of the customer loop. Then during the design phase, we work closely with 2 to 3 beta customers to test the product. After that, we work with another 7 to 10 customers who test the product further.
RPA Editor: Can you give an example of where the company tailored a product for a particular market?
Scott: Sure. In Turkey, the government reduced the weight load limits on their roads. This reduced the number of water bottles that could be carried per truck. So our challenge was to protect the bottles from damage while reducing the weight of the reusable packaging.
We created a system that reduced the water rack weight from 290 lbs to 71 lbs, so the suppliers could transport more bottles per truck. But we didn’t just lightweight the product. We also did a total redesign, creating the Up-Right Rack System. This innovation demonstrates again the strengths of the company in design and doing due diligence in product development.
RPA Editor: Polymer recently won an award for one of your pallet systems.
Scott: Yes, we designed and engineered a unique 3-piece pallet and top cap shipping platform to help the Coca-Cola Company better package and protect their Coca-Cola Freestyle® beverage dispensers for shipment to restaurants across the United States. Named the Side Step Pallet System, the shipping platform was named “Best Distribution Innovation” at the InterBev Awards.
RPA Editor: What are some of the biggest challenges facing your international customers?
Scott: They are facing greater cost pressures and poor infrastructure. The logistics systems in some countries aren’t as developed as in the USA so this reduces their ROI to use reusables. So in many countries there is a need for a less expensive product that will still protect their goods.
RPA Editor: What are some of the challenges with resuables facing customers in the US?
Scott: The FDA’s FSMA regulations are having a large impact on the design of inbound logistics systems and packaging in food plants. We have customers who are redoing the design of their plants to allow only one-way flow of material handling products. They are starting to realize that bins, pallets, forklifts, and other material handling tools that come in to the processing area from outside are bringing in potentially harmful pathogens. They need to stop the two-way traffic flow in to their food processing areas.
RPA Editor: Why did Polymer Solutions join the RPA?
Scott: We joined because we want to give back to the industry. We want to work with others in the market to resolve common issues that affect all of the RPA members.
RPA Editor: You travel a lot. What are some of your favorite countries to visit?
Scott: I travel about 20 weeks a year outside the US. It’s tough to pick favorite places, but I can say that international travel is easier when I go to countries with cultures that are more similar to the US, like those on the European continent. When I’m at home, I enjoy water and snow skiing and traveling with my wife. We are just starting our empty-nester phase, so we have more time to spend together.