Cutting costs the green way

Cutting costs the green way

HOME-GROWN environmentally friendly packaging company Greenpac is going places.

Next week, it will move to a four-storey, 180,000 sq ft building in Boon Lay, on land it acquired in 2011.

It no longer has to operate out of three rented warehouses in Pandan Crescent, Gul Circle and Tuas with a total of 70,000 sq ft.

Says Greenpac founder and chief executive Susan Chong with a modest laugh: "It's a new facility, our own factory. We have secured some new contracts so this is to cater for the expansion plan." It has been quite a journey for Ms Chong, who started Greenpac in 2002 with just one other staff and with the help of a $30,000 government grant.

The company soon found its niche by helping customers pack their goods for shipment more efficiently, cutting customers' costs by 20 to 50 per cent in the process.

Greenpac works with manufacturers to design customised packing methods using environmentally friendly packaging. It also provides packing services and warehousing services.

Ms Chong declines to reveal revenue and profit numbers, but says that business grew "exponentially" in the first few years and sales growth is now about 20 per cent a year.

Today, Greenpac employs 30 staff and has a client base of 100 companies - mostly multinationals with world-famous brand names, such as Hewlett Packard, Leica Instruments and Siemens, which come from industries like electronics, medical technology, industrial, services and agriculture.

It has offices in the US, UK and China - which account for one-fifth of its revenue. In the years ahead, it hopes to expand to a few more countries, including Japan and Malaysia.

Says Ms Chong: "Expansion is never easy, and as a small company, funding is a challenge, finding resources. And we've not put a lot of effort on international expansion as we were busy building our base and reputation, showcasing what we've done.

"But now, for the next five years, we will focus on expansion, focusing on regional growth, getting customers, spending more time there. I think there's a lot of potential."

Inspired by wastage

Ms Chong, who was doing sales and marketing in the hotel and pharmaceutical industries and was a former Pfizer executive, started Greenpac in 2002.

At that time, she had been helping out in a packaging business run by her husband's family. "As I was helping him. I could see there was a lot of wastage in the industry. Also, there was no expertise, there were no professionals. I thought, this should be a professional job," she said.

After setting up the company, she started cold-calling, deliberately targeting high-end manufacturers in the electronics and medical fields. "A lot of people tend to think, what's the big deal about packaging. Just give me a box, just pack and go. But the equipment can cost $500,000, $1 million, you need to have good packaging to ensure safe arrival, you also need to look into compliance and green aspects," she says.

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