Elmes Packaging


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August 10, 2015 Issue

The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information


Custom Thermoform Plastic Packaging


Richard Hierman



Elmes Packaging



Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – August 10, 2015


CEOCFO: Mr. Hierman, what was the vision when you took Elmes Packaging over in 2007?

Mr. Hierman: I wanted to grow it to a dynamic viable company that it had been in years previous.


CEOCFO: Have you succeeded in that goal? Where are you today?

Mr. Hierman: I’m almost there. We are way past where this company was at any point in its life, but I do not feel that I have quite made it to where I wanted to get to yet.


CEOCFO: What is the focus today at Elmes Packaging?

Mr. Hierman: We make thermoform plastic packaging. Among other things, we make the very annoying clamshell packages that can be difficult to get open, and are used in battery packaging and many other consumer products. We also do a great deal of protective packaging for shipping for precision machine parts or anything that needs to be protected in shipping.


CEOCFO: Is this type of packaging purchased as a commodity item; is cost the bottom line? Does quality come into play? What are the market dynamics?

Mr. Hierman: It really depends on the industry that we deal with, and we deal with several industries. We are heavily involved with the automotive industry, which is much less commodity oriented and much more quality oriented. We deal with the food business, where it is just a commodity, and it is all about price. We also have an aerospace customer where it is all quality related and pricing is somewhat secondary.


CEOCFO: Are there many companies in your arena? What is the competitive landscape?

Mr. Hierman: Thermoforming is a relatively simple manufacturing process, compared to some of the other plastic processing. Because of that, it is a little easier to get started in than some of the other ones, so there are a great many thermoformers around. Virtually, monthly I will hear of someone that I have never heard of before that is in this industry.


CEOCFO: What do you understand at Elmes Packaging about the process that leads people to come to you?

Mr. Hierman: In what we do in our manufacturing process, we are not unique in the industry, other than we take a great deal of care in our quality and on time delivery. Those are things we can do that maybe differentiate us from some of our competitors. Beyond that, our customer service is terrific. People find that they like dealing with us because we make them feel comfortable. When we tell them that we are going to make a delivery on a specific date, we do it. If someone calls with an urgent requirement, we will somehow make it happen for them. I would say it is really our customer care that differentiates us.


CEOCFO: Did you have that customer care focus on day one or realize over time that it was a differentiator?

Mr. Hierman: From day one having great customer care was a focus for us. In fact, in my whole career that has been my focus.


CEOCFO: Does it surprise you that so many companies do not seem to get that?

Mr. Hierman: Yes, it does and I am not sure why they would not focus on customer service more, but some companies just do not seem to take care of their customers. We have had companies tell us that they never enjoyed dealing with those other people. We are quite confident that no one would ever leave us and say that.


CEOCFO: When a company comes to you, do they know exactly what they want or are there many variations where you would have to help them decide?

Mr. Hierman: In most cases, they do not know exactly what they want. They have a concept or an idea, and sometimes we will even get sketches written on back of a napkin. We will also get complex part drawings and everything in-between. However, generally we need to guide them along in the final design of the package that we make for them.


CEOCFO: What might be different in one of your packaging products?

Mr. Hierman: A great deal of clamshell packaging is customer focused. They need to design the package to catch a customer’s eye and sometimes if they have never dealt with clamshell packaging or even consumer retail packaging, they may not realize that it has to catch the customer’s eye very quickly. Therefore, sometimes we can help them with how best to layout a package so that their graphics that go inside of it are better able to catch a consumer’s eye than they might have thought of before. We always provide guidance when a customer needs it.


CEOCFO: Has there been many innovations in the equipment that you use and how do you evaluate new machinery?

Mr. Hierman: Over the last 40 or so years of the thermoforming industry, the machinery has gotten much more sophisticated and there are much finer controls for the process. It is becoming a tiny bit less of an art and there is a little more of a science involved. The concepts however, are still the same. We still warm up plastic and bring it over a mold, then apply a vacuum so that we can make the shape. It does not matter if we are using a thirty year old machine or a two year old machine. It is still the same basic concept; just better controls.


CEOCFO: Is it difficult to find people that want to work in manufacturing?

Mr. Hierman: Not really. We run very lean and we rely on temp agencies to bring us people when we have a surge and need help.


CEOCFO: Are you able to ramp up as needed with regard to your facilities and space?

Mr. Hierman: We are moving our facility at the beginning of next year. We are going to be moving to facility twice the size of the one that we have now. When we do that, we are also going to be buying more machinery, because we do not have room to put more machines in our current facility.


CEOCFO: Why are you confident that now is the time for a move?

Mr. Hierman: I am confident because we have the business now that will require us to have another machine. I wanted to move two years ago, but we were not quite there yet. We needed the space, but did not need the extra machinery.


CEOCFO: What is your geographic reach today?

Mr. Hierman: Our main customer base is the Greater Toronto area but we have customers in Quebec and as far south as Florida, as far west as California and as far east as New Jersey.


CEOCFO: Do you maintain inventory or is each item customized?

Mr. Hierman: Primarily everything that we make is custom. It is made to order, although we do maintain inventory for our customers. Today we are starting our first run of stock tooling for the food industry. This is something that we had an opportunity to do. We have been trying to get into the food industry for years and we finally had a customer that told us that if we made a series of stock tooling, they would buy from us.


CEOCFO: Is there much difference or variation in the cost of raw materials or is that not of big importance?

Mr. Hierman: It is very big, as the cost of raw materials have gone up substantially in the last eight or nine months.


CEOCFO: Put it all together for our readers. Why should people pay attention to Elmes Packaging?

Mr. Hierman: We are aggressively pursuing new business with our online presence, with traditional sales techniques and even through acquisitions or mergers. We’ve already bought one of our smaller competitors and are open to anything that will help us grow our sales and profitability. Our new customers love the way we do business.


“People find that they like dealing with us because we make them feel comfortable. When we tell them that we are going to make a delivery on a specific date, we do it. If someone calls with an urgent requirement, we will somehow make it happen for them. I would say it is really our customer care that differentiates us.”

- Richard Hierman


Elmes Packaging



Richard Hierman

905 625 7272







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