Don Frandsen is a second generation provider of reusables.
Frandsen: My dad owned a foam fabrication company, called Foam Technology. He had bought a water jet to punch button holes in the polyurethane foam. This method had some drawbacks with urethane, but opened up the possibilities to create customized dunnage with closed cell foams. It turned out to be one of our fastest growing markets at the time. My dad sold the business in 2004, and John Petrofsky (President of Worldwide Foam) and I started a smaller foam fabricator, Exemplary Foam (also a member of the RPA) that focused exclusively on returnable dunnage. We sold Exemplary Foam in 2010 and put our attention on Worldwide Foam, Ltd., which is a supplier of crosslinked foam blocks used by dunnage fabricators.
RPA Editor: Why did you decide to supply the foam rather than fabricate it?
Frandsen: From our experience as fabricators, we felt we understood what companies that fabricate and design dunnage need in a supplier: a wide range of inventory that is immediately available. This makes our customers much more responsive to their customers’ demands, and it is more cost efficient in the long run.
RPA Editor: Where in the supply chain do your foam blocks come in to play?
Frandsen: Our foams are extremely durable and protect Class A surfaces that are subject to scratching and other damage. About 80 percent of our customers are foam fabricators who will cut it for use in returnables. This foam dunnage protects parts as they move throughout the supply chain on returnable racks or totes, and generally is expected to last for the life of the program.
RPA Editor: What is the challenge you face in the reusables market?
Frandsen: Companies today are, of course, very cost driven, and the pressure to reduce costs is enormous. So while raw material prices, such as resins, tend to rise over time, our challenge is to reduce the total cost of our products to our customers. So we are constantly experimenting with new products and new sizes, as well as being a better service provider overall. For example, we offer our customers online access to our nationwide inventory. This allows them to commit to their customer requirements faster than ever. But of course the challenge to innovate never ends.
RPA Editor: So the market is good?
Frandsen: Yes, it’s a growing industry, and this year has been really good for us. Our headquarters are in Indiana, and this year we expanded from one manned warehouse to three. They are in California, Atlanta, and Texas. The southeast market is especially strong.
RPA Editor: What is the benefit of being a member of the RPA?
Frandsen: So far the ability to locate in the RPA pavilion has been a huge asset to us. It draws a strong concentration of people who are looking for reusable solutions. We never considered exhibiting at PACK EXPO until we heard about the pavilion.
RPA Editor: What else do you hope to gain from your membership?
Frandsen: I think it can be a good forum to connect us to potential customers, and to keep abreast of what is happening in the industry. We are looking at better ways to utilize the RPA, as well as ramping up our marketing and content development. We’ll ask the RPA to help us promote our materials and services to a wider audience.
You can reach Don Frandsen at (574)968-8268 or firstname.lastname@example.org