Wed, 20/12/2017 - 05:30
Better by Design
East African Packaging Industries is providing premiere packaging solutions across the region, keeping up to-date with the ever-changing market both locally and globally
Writer: Phoebe Calver
Project Manager: Vivek Valmiki
East African Packaging Industries (EAPI) has proudly moulded itself into a bespoke export packaging company, working predominantly as a provider to the local floriculture industry.
The automated creation of its packaging is the first of its kind in the industry; however there are still exciting improvements to be made for the Company moving forward.
“Currently we are faced with a major focus within the industry on providing lightweight packaging, but also initiatives that enable us to improve both quality and efficiency that is spread throughout the supply chain,” adds Maarten Piet, General Manager, Marketing. “We have embarked on high-tech graphic printing facilities as a point-of-sale packaging facility; increasing the flexibility of our service.”
The Company was established in 1959, initially making multiwall sacks for the tea and cement industry in Mombasa and going on to purchase a boxing company for the production of corrugated card products for use in tobacco and local industries.
Proudly located in the heart of both the Mombasa and Nairobi industrial hotspots, the Company’s Mombasa plant focuses on the production and manufacture of paper stacks, while the Nairobi carton making facility is renowned as the best in East Africa.
EAPI retained almost complete control of a market leading position until the early 90s when the region received an influx of competitors, leading to its current position with a market share of approximately 25 percent.
“Although a sizable chunk of our portfolio has changed over the years, we still make our tea stack, however, the largest portion is in the creation of export boxes specifically for horticultural, floricultural and tobacco exports,” explains Piet. “At present looking forward we are looking to move our business into the packaging and production of FMCG boxes and high graphics printing, all as a result of recent investments in the Company.”
Over the years EAPI has been resolute in maintaining and improving the quality of its business systems, while taking the lead in the industry when it comes to product development. These factors are affirmed through the Company’s slogan, ‘better by design’, with its workforce providing the instrumental cog in this machine.
“We are particularly lucky in our Company to be blessed with a dedicated array of long-serving employees that are completely in-tune with both our strategy and core values,” adds Piet. “Our people take pride in the investment in developing and maintaining fruitful relationships with customers, while providing our business with a solid base to work from.”
Through capital investments into people, equipment and ERP systems, EAPI is developing its strategy to fit in with the ever-changing future of the Industry.
Piet continues: “We were proudly one of the first companies located in Kenya to have an ERP system, alongside ABACA, which we have had in-house for more than 19 years.
“We have been lucky to have major investments made into the business, which have brought our standards up to meet the demands of printing for the future. At EAPI we have also recently been able to upgrade our plant equipment with energy saving investments in mind, making our Company significantly more efficient moving forward.”
It is incredibly important to the Company and its identity that it remains 100 percent Kenyan, with only two expatriates comprising a workforce of 300.
“Our people are important to us, and I believe this is demonstrated by the sheer number of employees that will stay with us for the duration,” states Piet. “We promote and bring people up through the ranks, while also having a gender equal employment policy.
“We also provide training and aid our employees with educational scholarships to improve their skills, while promoting empowerment within our workforce.”
Over its many years in the industry, the Company has prided itself on the core value system that has been firmly in place since inception in 1959.
“We have strong and sustainable values that have supported every aspect of our business and will continue to do so going forward,” explains Piet. “We ensure that each of our employees is open and honest in all of their activities, focused on key business priorities for the good of the business and supporting of not only customers but each other.”
Similar to its desire to provide a wholly Kenyan-owned Company, EAPI will always look to source its supplies locally first before resorting to imports. At present imports are standing at approximately 75 percent, with 25 percent locally discovered.
“We would prefer to see these figures inclined towards local, however, at present both capacity and quality are proving to be the restricting factors we are faced with,” explains Piet. “Our other supplies are bought through local businesses in order to support industry, and we aim to maintain long-lasting relationships with our suppliers.
“We are looking to expand, with the opening of new facilities in Ethiopia which will enable us to diversify into different packaging sectors. This is all while we consolidate and increase our existing market share in the corrugated industry through various acquisitions.”
As previously mentioned, the entirety of the Company’s facilities are continuously upgraded in order to keep up with the latest state-of-the-art production techniques. This ensures that both quality and turnaround times are always improved and no order is too large or too small for the EAPI’s capabilities.
“As experts in just-in-time delivery programmes, we are on-hand to help minimise inventory and warehouse space investments with customised inventory programmes,” concludes Piet. “The experience that we have accumulated as a Company during the past 57 years has created a team that are adept in meeting customers’ needs.
“We pride ourselves on the close monitoring of quality at all stages of our manufacturing process, while also guaranteeing that our customers’ products are of quality that can be used globally. It is this commitment to our offering that continues to drive our success in the market and a factor which I hope will enable our continued growth in the years to come.”