In the Zone

Flexible Packaging

The website for Bison Bag Co. declares: You are about to enter a flexible plastic packaging zone rich in tradition, quality, and imagination. This is an apt description of the 38-year-old company, which converts flexible packaging, zipper bags, and stand-up pouches for customers nationwide and abroad. “Everything we make is custom made,” explains Scott Zgoda, executive VP. “We do not catalog anything or produce any stock packaging.”

Nearly 70% of its customers are involved in food processing, and some of its products are shipped by US companies and used overseas. Other US markets include healthcare, sporting goods, and industrial products such as hardware and auto parts.

“We have a knack for working closely with people, finding solutions for people,” says Zgoda. “I think going the extra mile for people—turning things around quickly and helping them succeed—is probably one of our biggest selling points.”

Bison’s latest selling point is the addition of a reconditioned 63-in., eight-color Uteco Amber 808 press in May 2006, which greatly increased the company’s speed, color, and size capabilities. (Bison was previously limited to six colors and 49-in. widths.) For years, says Zgoda, Bison had been outsourcing its eight-color work. The Uteco press not only allowed Bison to bring that work totally in-house but also meet the needs of its hundreds of other customers more efficiently.

“Our jobs are becoming more demanding, and some of the six-color process work we print on our existing presses is better suited for eight colors,” explains Zgoda. “But knowing that the market is moving into eight and ten colors, and since we have been outsourcing some eight-color items, we didn’t feel it made sense to put a lot of money into another six-color press.

The Uteco gives us wider-width capabilities that we didn’t have before, as well as higher speeds and better quality graphics.”

Meeting the Demand
Bison’s 55 employees are able to turn around most orders in just three to four weeks and in some cases even days—as opposed to four to six weeks by competitors. The company meets its quick delivery goals in two ways: one, by forecasting and establishing “make and hold” programs in which Bison produces more economical long runs of bags and stores them in its 20,000-sq-ft warehouse for shipment on demand; and two, by converting runs as small as 5,000 pieces during its normal production cycle. (Sizes range from 5,000 to millions.)

“Sure it’s difficult,” Zgoda says of converting short runs. “We produce orders over one million, but we found a niche that we can fill with short runs. Yes, there are a lot of reasons to avoid short runs, but we made a decision to commit to meeting our customers’ needs and want to make sure they get exactly what they need so they continue to call us.”

Bison does it all in a 30,000-sq-ft manufacturing facility in Lockport, NY, with these tools of trade:

  • Uteco Amber 808 flexo press with video inspection
  • Bielloni Axioma six-color, 49-in. flexographic press
  • Carint Gemini six-color, 42-in. flexographic press
  • Bielloni Julia Seconda II solventless laminator
  • Ashe 63-in. Sapphire S2 high-speed slitter
  • Ro-An 41- and 30-in. servo-controlled flat belt bag machines and auto wicketers
  • Hudson Sharp 41-in. flat belt bag machine
  • Hudson Sharp 30-in. servo controlled flat belt bag machine and servo-controlled auto wicketers
  • Maqplas stand-up pouch machine with zipper capabilities
  • Hudson Sharp three-side seal pouch machines
  • Eight AMI zipper machines
  • SPEC ink mixing and dispensing system
  • X-rite computer-controlled color matching system
  • Micro-dot mounter/proofers from Bieffebi and E.L. Harley
  • A full in-house machine shop.
“One thing we’ve done over the years to build flexibility,” explains Zgoda, “is to purchase new, state-of-the-art equipment but hold onto some of the older equipment that is being replaced. Why not hold on to them? Here’s an opportunity for us to possibly turn things around even more quickly.”

With that equipment, the company manufactures everything from custom-printed plastic bags and rollstock to plastic pouch packaging. Substrates include low-density polyethylene (PE), high-density PE, polypropylene (cast, oriented, and biaxially oriented), PET (clear or metallized), nylon, and foils.

Explains Zgoda, “We have the mindset that if we have the equipment, and we have the demand, we’ll take a serious look at just about anything. That’s really what made us what we are today. While this is not the only way to do business, this philosophy has worked very well for us. It’s given us the flexibility to keep our customers happy.”



CONVERTER INFO:
Bison Bag Co.

5404 Crown Dr.
Lockport, NY 14094
716/434-4380; bisonbag.com

SUPPLIER INFO:
Uteco Converting—PFFC-ASAP 380. uteco.com
Bielloni Castello—PFFC-ASAP 381. bielloni.it
Carint—PFFC-ASAP 382. carint.com
Ashe Converting Equipment—PFFC-ASAP 383. ashe.co.uk
Ro-An Industries Corp. —PFFC-ASAP 384. roan.com
Hudson Sharp—PFFC-ASAP 385. hudsonsharp.com
Maqplas Ind Com Maquinas—PFFC-ASAP 386. maqplas.com.br
AMI Equipment Div., Zip-Pak—PFFC-ASAP 387. zippak.com
SPEC Inc. —PFFC-ASAP 388. spec-inc.com
X-Rite—PFFC-ASAP 389. xrite.com
Bieffebi—PFFC-ASAP 390. bieffebi.it
E. L. Harley—PFFC-ASAP 391. elharleyinc.com



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