All the best business books advise would be SMEs to find a niche and set out to be the best in that niche. You’d be hard pressed to find a better example than Greenstik.
Managing director Peter Cherry founded the East Yorkshire company in the heartland of the UK self-adhesive laminate business in 2000. His plan was to distribute high quality laminate efficiently, quickly and to orders of down to just one coil to small to medium label printers both in the UK and worldwide. By any yardstick he’s succeeded.
Last year material throughput reached 12Mm2. “This year,” he told Converting Today “we are on target for 16Mm2.” Fourteen months ago Peter, with his wife Veronica Cherry (who handles the company accounts), moved Greenstik to smart 10,000ft2 Scandinavian-style premises in Carnaby, Bridlington. In addition to a reconditioned Stanford 142 and a rebuilt Goebel slitter rewinder the company recently invested in a new Stanford 142 HD Doctor Machine. And Greenstik’s reach now stretches globally. “We have markets in every continent – in fact some 30 per cent of our business is export,” he boasted.
The Greenstik operation centres round the distribution of selfadhesive laminates, which it buys in the main from one well known major supplier of label stock. It also purchases older product lines, surplus labelstock, customer returns and off-cuts and slightly off specification material that has not attained the very strict standards laid down by the manufacturer. “This may simply be a matter of plus or minus a gram on adhesive coat weight, a slightly crushed core or bad edges, “explains Peter Cherry. “Nearly all this material used to be land filled. We are in effect recycling selfadhesive laminates, “he adds. “I’m an environmentalist at heart – hence the name Greenstik.” The company also buys excess stocks from label converters as well as offering a label stock salvaging operation.
Most of these operations require slitting and rewinding of the paper and filmic stock and sometimes edge trimming. This is where the Stanford comes into its own. Not only does it operate strictly as a doctor machine (rewinding onto new cores and edge trimming), but, despite being a simplex rewinder, due to the material consistency across the width of the rolls purchased by the company, it is also frequently used by Greenstik as a slitter rewinder. On average three knives are used, producing up to four coils from a roll. The Stanford 142 HD is rated at 457m/min (1,500ft/min) and can handle web widths up to 610mm (24in). Maximum unwind and rewind diameters are 1, 067mm (42in). And being listed at half the price of a slitter rewinder also has its attractions.
Says Peter Cherry: “Why did we opt for the 142 HD from Stanford? Because it’s the Rolls Royce of rewinding doctor slitting mach-ines. Basically it is spot on for what we do. Importantly it has the capacity for large diameter unwind and rewind and it is faster than anything else on the market.”
The machine has a pneumatic shaft unwind with 76mm (3in) core. The web passes through a dancer roll and a small array of rolls, is shear slit, travels across an angled splice table and is rewound. The rewind features an air operated rider roll, which expels air out so building a very dense roll without over-tensioning. This prevents telescoping of the roll when handling.
Customer service is at the heart of the Greenstik operation. “Ease of ordering is essential and we try to ensure a first quality profile that fits the customer’s application, “explained Peter Cherry. “Each order has to be delivered 100 per cent complete, on time and in a presentable format with immaculate packaging. And all the paperwork should be down to the bare minimum of requirements.”
How is that achieved? “We have to be very professional. We’re not working out of a garden shed – it is all amazingly automated and efficient,” he said. As the incoming material reaches the company it is racked within 30 minutes and immediately uploaded onto the company’s Internet site. “Sometimes it is sold to a customer within five minutes – some people are looking and buying all the time,” he added. “But we also look at what our customers usually buy and if something suitable comes in we would call them. However, we never pester them,” he said emphatically. Some 40 per cent of all orders are made on-line.
Customers can order as small an amount as they wish. They don’t pay any more per coil than they would for thousands of metres, but obviously transport costs would be the same. “We have a unique service, we believe. A customer can pick and mix materials and wait until a pallet has been filled before we deliver.” This is particularly useful for the smaller converter.
Efficiency and ease of use for the customer were clearly the main criteria for the ordering and production software designed especially for Greenstik. Peter Cherry explained: “As soon as the order is placed the customer’s history and special needs (slit requirements, packaging and transport) are displayed and the programme identifies what we have available. We then allocate material and scheduling and the order is confirmed either by fax or email option. The system automatically updates what is shown as available on the Internet whenever a customer orders directly or if we select material for a customer.”
The reach truck on the plant floor is equipped with a lap top that automatically shows the operator which material to pick and its storage location as well as alternatives should the material not meet expectations when viewed. Some 1Mm2 of material is stored at any one time with a 20 or 40ft container load arriving every other day. Around 40 to 50 different material grades are stocked.
Once the material has been picked it is delivered to the Doctor Machine. On the screen by the Stanford 142 HD the operator can see the same details available in the office. Typical information might be “pack horizontally: customer has roll turning equipment.” He then enters the width, length and work sheet notes and his name and prints out the labels, which include a barcode for the specific job. Apart from this the operation is completely paperless.
Edge trim is automatically collected from the machine by an overhead system. “All the trim is burnt for energy recovery. Nothing goes to landfill,” said Peter Cherry.
Following processing, the coil is unloaded precisely by a Hymo scissor lift (which incorporates certain features specific to Greenstik). The coil is transferred to a roll table and on to packing and pallet stretch wrapping. All the coils are scanned in and a packing list generated. At the same time a packing label is printed and the invoice sent through to the office. In addition information concerning the weight of the order, size and its destination is also sent automatically to the transport courier so that it can organise the best utilisation of vehicles and routes. UK deliveries are all made the day after the coils are prepared with deliveries to Ireland normally two days afterwards.
And the future? If all goes according to the business plan, Peter Cherry hopes to see a major expansion in space shortly. He also intends to invest in a narrow aisle storage system as well as a third Doctor Machine. No surprises where the order for that will go! He concluded: “The Stanford is rock solid – nothing falls off. Its pedigree surpasses the competition.”
Tel: +44 (0)1262 602222
+1 618 548 2600