Foxpak’s pioneering attitude sets it apart

Inside Track: Paul Young, chief executive, Foxpak

Paul Young of Foxpak: ‘We’re not trying to compete with the global packaging multinationals; we’re more focused on identifying niche opportunities.’

Paul Young of Foxpak: ‘We’re not trying to compete with the global packaging multinationals; we’re more focused on identifying niche opportunities.’

 

Over the past 10 years, Louth-based Foxpak has transformed itself from a traditional packaging company into a technology-led producer of flexible, sustainable packaging products.

What is special about your business?
We are at the leading edge of the flexible packaging market having pioneered the use of digital printing technology to produce a very high quality end product.

Our technology is typically used to create food pouches and, unlike traditional packaging, which had to be ordered in thousands of units, we can do short runs. This makes it much easier and very cost effective for companies to do trial runs of new products, for example. We can also print the entire pouch with information, which has big appeal for brand managers.

What sets your business apart in your sector?
The fact that we are an innovative company in a very traditional industry that has taken a pioneering attitude to the issue of sustainable packaging. We produce and supply compostable, recyclable, environmentally friendly packaging into many market sectors including health food, pet food, seafood, sport nutrition and confectionery.

What have been your biggest challenges?
Setting up a green field manufacturing facility in September 2008 at the start of the recession and striving to continually reinvent the business and convert ideas in revenue streams. We’re not trying to compete with the global packaging multinationals; we’re more focused on identifying niche opportunities and going for them. An example is being early into digital.

What has been your biggest success?
Building a business that had 10 employees when I came here and now employs 35 people, and growing our exports significantly. About 65 per cent of our output is exported to places such as Germany, the Nordic countries, the UK and Benelux.

What piece of advice would you give someone starting a business?
Build the right culture and recruit the right team. Be prepared to persevere.

Who do you admire most in business and why?
I admire all business owners who have taken the risk in setting up a business. I have the highest admiration for Martin Naughton (Glen Dimplex) and John Woods (Linwoods Ireland) for their achievements.

What two things could the Government do to help SMEs in the current environment?
Focus on raising the threshold at which employees enter the high tax band. The current level is a disincentive for employees and businesses.

Reform capital gains tax for entrepreneurs in line with the UK.

In your experience, are banks lending to SMEs?
Yes. We bank with Bank of Ireland and enjoy a good and supportive relationship with them.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in business?
Probably trusting the wrong people from time to time. I’d also say paying the price for being an early adopter because you don’t always get to capitalise on it. An example is a compostable coffee bag which we developed a number of years ago. It was ahead of its time and didn’t take off whereas now it’s all about sustainability.

What is the most frustrating part of running a small business?
The demands it puts on your time can be very hard on your family.

What makes it all worthwhile?
Building a strong team culture based on respect for all. Always being prepared to give something back and coaching employees to achieve their potential. It’s also a pretty good feeling that our first completely compostable packaging products will ship to the US shortly.

What’s your business worth and would you sell it?
A business only has a value if someone wishes to buy it and Foxpak is not for sale. We have just completed a major investment programme of €2.7 million to underpin our growth for the next three years and that’s where our focus is for now.