As Transparent as a Their Glass Bottles – Cospak Pty Ltd
Cospak Pty Ltd. manufactures a wide range of rigid and flexible packaging at three facilities located in Sydney, Auckland and Guangzhou, China, as well as sourcing over 7,500 products from more than 200 supply partners for distribution to its warehouses in all Australian states, New Zealand, South Africa and Italy.
Founded in 1969, Cospak utilizes sophisticated inventory tracking software, fosters close relationships with partners and clients, and applies a balanced philosophy to operations. Cospak’s expertise and responsiveness to implement efficiency developments have positioned the wine, beverage, food and pharmaceutical industry packaging specialists as Australasia’s largest packaging distributor.
Three businesses operate under the Cospak brand, which include Cospak Plastics, Premier Plastics and Cospak China. In December 2009, San Miguel Yamamura Packaging Corporation acquired a 65 per cent majority stake ownership in the company, but has left Cospak relatively autonomous in its operations.
With the acquisition, Cospak stands to benefit dramatically with a significant cash infusion and new markets to explore. Cospak General Manager of Operations Jonathan Evans settles partners’ concerns by assuring Cospak will remain just as committed and engaged in current relationships as ever.
Evans is also excited about a new contract with Amcor Glass and the current government quality and efficiency evaluation of Cospak Plastic’s operations—both of which will help position the company to reach its objective of doubling in size within the next few years.
Cospak Plastics, which is the smallest of the three companies under the Cospak brand with million in revenue, is currently in the midst of a governmental review called Enterprise Connect that promotes the business growth in Australian companies. The goal is to make small to medium organizations more efficient and, thus, strengthen the Australian economy as a whole.
“We’re looking at improvements, structural improvements, at the way we manage ourselves in the Cospak Plastics business—the staffing, the structure, how we handle our finances, our marketing. It’s quite broad,” says Evans.
“Through business diagnostic sessions, a specialist business adviser will provide Cospak with recommendations, which are then up to us to take or leave. If we take on any of the recommendations, there’s potential for up to ,000 in co-contribution from the Australian government to help us achieve these recommendations.”
SHAPING THE WORKFORCE
For all the emphasis on operational reviews, efficiency and investments, Cospak is keenly aware of the needs of the employees that source and sell the various packaging the company offers. Cospak treats its employees with respect, pays a solid wage, provides flexibility, trains adequately and provides a collegial atmosphere. As a result, Cospak has high retention levels of their qualified staff.
“It’s about ensuring a high degree of autonomy for the staff. We find our employees, if given enough autonomy in ensuring that the various requirements of their role are met, tend to rise to the occasion and ensure things flow without constant attention,” says Evans.
“No one is looking over people’s shoulders day-to-day but really encouraging independence. As long as consideration and thought has been put into a decision, we tend to be accepting if the result is not great – everyone makes mistakes.”
The empowering methods Cospak preaches at its operations in Australia apply immensely to other company operations. Most of Cospak business is done in Asia, and in general Asian culture lifts relationships to the top of the priority list.
“The key with doing business in Asia are the relationships,” says Evans. “It’s pretty much relationships first, business second. If you have the strong relationship and build up over time a high level of trust, you tend to get the cooperation you need.”
“It’s not just about how much you buy. It’s about how you respect their organization, them as individuals and are culturally accommodating. We’ve been doing business there for well over 20 years so it’s a long learning curve”
Cospak’s Australasia connection ramped up recently with San Miguel Corporation entering the picture. The two companies generally facilitate operations via the same sales mechanisms, offices, warehousing infrastructure, distribution network and customer support services, so a marriage was natural.
Cospak traditionally leaned on the distribution side and was seen as having a manufacturing deficiency. The San Miguel resources should temper those perceptions and strengthen the company for the future.
As Cospak bounces back from the economic downturn, like many Australian companies today, the company is thankful for the strength of its relationships and is particularly excited about a new partnership with Amcor Glass, a leading supplier of quality glass for wine bottles.
“It’s important not to pay lip-service to these principles but to follow through with them. We have to ensure we keep the communication flowing and that we stay in regular contact with our partners. We need to understand their business requirements as much as they need to understand ours,” says Evans.
LIGHTING IN A BOTTLE
Cospak is looking at all options to continue growth and capture an even larger global share of the container manufacturing and distribution market. The company is looking at potential acquisition opportunities but maintains that mutually beneficial relationships take priority.
“The key is maintaining relationships. It’s not just about beating up your suppliers and trying to get the best price,” says Evans.
“To a large extent, regardless what happens in the markets, both financial and those we trade within, we tend to ride it through. As long as we maintain those relationships, I believe we will continue to roll with the punches and overcome whatever obstacles are thrown in our path.”
Cospak owns a firm grasp on the packaging distribution market with no imminent danger of that share slipping. Cospak knows that external factors and fluctuations in the markets are beyond its control.
Regardless, Cospak has bottled a chief philosophy: strong working relationships with partners can safeguard Cospak from any rigid situation.
Divya M is a veteran in Internet marketing and a wordsmith par excellence with countless articles on a wide range of subjects to her credit. She is an expert on Business Magazine News.
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