ZiEn has introduced flexible packages and pouches in a market that bottles typically dominate. For this innovative transition to flexible packaging to be successful, it has to be well thought out and supported by customers and vendors alike.
Steve Zimmerman, owner of ZiEn Products, believes to be truly innovating in your business it’s important to identify markets and suppliers that hold themselves to the same standard as your business. Suppliers with flawed products that do not have quality systems and cut corners lead to poor quality and a loss of business.
Zimmerman found out early on the hassle of overseas shipping to get pouches to his facility was a logistical nightmare. It was difficult for him to put the spouted pouches into his production schedule because he couldn’t be confident they would arrive on time. In his case, he had to prepay for all materials in advance of shipping. This gave him no recourse if the pouches were rejected or he had to wait for replacement pouches.
Zimmerman heard through a film printer that HQC Inc. helped brand owners take spouted pouches from a concept all the way through production to a finished product. HQC not only manufactures and installs fitments, they also coordinate and help source the entire finished product. He was very impressed that they possess a high level of expertise and were willing to sit down and listen to him. This was the opportunity Zimmerman had been searching for to finally solve his logistical nightmare.
“I would like to be clear, I did not pair with HQC solely for the sake of patriotic sentiment.” Zimmerman wants to back an American company because the quality is there. “I believe HQC is quality, and I cannot waste my time with a company that says things they cannot stand behind.”
“I had lots of ideas but wasn’t sure how to bring them to the table. I needed to walk through this with someone. HQC provided a wealth of knowledge that helped me expand my search for quality suppliers in pouch manufacturing here in the U.S.”
For Zimmerman, the real draw of HQC was that the company was personally invested in his success. I could see and realized HQC’s commitment to client satisfaction went beyond the norm. When it came to product development he found that, “not only did they take my ideas seriously, they were willing to put some skin in the game.”
“HQC, and specifically Blair Pasternak, made this an easy decision. His knowledge in the area I am pursuing is extremely valuable. His questions made me think beyond the surface. I found myself teaming with him in a way that was creative and constructive. He understood what I was saying and where I wanted to go. His expertise complimented my thoughts and ideas for the petroleum packaging market.”
“If HQC felt there was promise in an idea, they were willing to invest time and money in development. They listened and provided insight. It was not a one-way street. Ideas were shared and communication channels remained open on a daily basis. Communication was easy, more so because we didn’t have to deal with a 6-13 hour time difference as you would when dealing with overseas suppliers.”
As great of a fit as HQC was, many still may wonder if there is a cost tradeoff when it comes to using an American company. Many believe that American manufacturing companies are going to be more expensive than overseas companies. Zimmerman believes that while he has had both good and bad products from overseas and American suppliers, the American supplier is better for many reasons. Zimmerman prefers American suppliers for the reliability and flexibility when needed. The unknowns in importing products when working with an overseas supplier can become time consuming and costly.
“Rectifying problems is difficult due to logistics. We deal with a U.S. based representative, but they still need to deal with the time difference. Answers are slow in coming. There is always the fear of running into flawed material that limits production. With HQC, there is more flexibility in building quality pouches that meet specific needs. This is not a one size fits all product.”
Zimmerman found that his collaboration with HQC resulted in efficient solutions to the issues ZiEn previously faced with their packaging. HQC’s drive to excel and perform, in conjunction with ZiEn’s willingness to see value beyond direct cost, produced a cooperative and productive client and customer pairing.
“HQC partnering on this program with us has produced many back and forth conversations. I believe we look at costs as a moving target. Yes, there are hard costs, but there is also an understanding that working together and sharing information can drive these costs down. Everyone is engaged and on board. We both want to build the best spouted pouch possible and we know we need to get this right.” After all, when we are filling oil products one bad spouted pouch results in wasted time on the filling line and that affects productivity.
For both ZiEn and HQC, the future looks bright. When Zimmerman was fed up with low quality and superficially less expensive imports, he took a chance on a quality American company. He was pleasantly surprised to discover he received far more than just a product. Zimmerman found the same shared goal of innovation and reliability. ZiEn looks forward to pursing other flexible packaging projects with HQC in the future.
“We continue to press on in the flexible packaging market for private label packages at a retail level… Life is full of obstacles. Working together to move beyond these is the key to successful partnering and in the end, a profitable endeavor.”
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