Food and beverage specialist spans three centuries

It’s not too often you get to talk to a person who is the third-generation owner of a local company – one that is celebrating its 140 year anniversary in 2019.

Starting life as a company that imported disinfectant in 1879, J.L.Lennard has grown to be a major distributor of food equipment and packaging machines.

Managing director, David Boekemann, is the third generation from his family to run the company that was taken over by his grandfather William from original founder Julius Levy in 1905. Boekemann’s father, Bob, became managing partner in 1953, before David himself took over the business in 1988.

Over that time the Boekemann family has seen a raft of changes throughout the company, Australia and the world. It has traded through the Great Depression, two world wars, and has won and lost several distributorships, but has always survived.

William Boekemann had an entrepreneurial streak that saw him import an eclectic bunch of products during the company’s formative years. This included goatskins, menthol crystals, celluloid fountain pens, cheese, bottles, vials, caps, waxed paper, and cellophane, to name a few.

Building on this success, during the post-World War I era, William started to import machinery including flour-packing plant, tea-packing and confectionary-wrapping machines and chocolate-processing machines. Eventually the company would pioneer such machinery as those used in tablet making, capping, and labelling products, as well as those that were capable of cartoning ice cream and filling beer bottles.

In order for the business to thrive, relationships needed to be built, and this the family did with great aplomb, especially with high-end manufacturers in Europe. Over the years the company has been the distributor for such well-known and reliable brands as Krones, Rovema, Manesty, CE King, Glatt and an array of others.

When the company celebrated its 125-year anniversary in 2004 it not only had a grand history in the annuls of Australian food and beverage machinery, it had worked with some of the biggest consumer brands in Australia and the world. This included the likes of Kraft, McDonald’s, Carlton United Breweries and Arnott’s Biscuits.

Since it celebrated that landmark anniversary 15 years ago, David Boekemann has not rested on the laurels of the company’s history. He has been busy expanded the business, moving away from aspects of the industry that don’t show profit and continuing to build what has been, and continues to be, a sterling reputation within the food and beverage space.

Recently, Krones made the decision to start their own business in Australia and New Zealand which was a logical move for them.

It was however very disappointing for David, especially as J.L.Lennard had been a champion of the brand for over half a century.

It was a very friendly change and not only was David appointed a director of the new company, but Krones Pacific still operate out of J.L.Lennard’s offices in Sydney and Melbourne.

As is often the case in business, as one door closes another one opens. In this instance, David saw an opportunity when he received a call from the receiver of Walls Machinery, which had hit hard times financially.

“We were very interested in this business in particular the agencies of Fuji, Anritsu and Toyo Jidoki which had been very successful for Walls over many years with a huge customer base. After discussions with the three manufacturers and the staff in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, we came to an agreement just before Christmas in 2018 and took over 10 staff and the agencies,” said David.

Some of the bigger projects the company has worked on include rolling out 800 sets of equipment for McDonald’s Deli Choices brand; supplying the same company with 340 Taylor grills as McDonald’s changed the way it ran its business from pre-prepared fast food to cooking to order; selling 600 Taylor frozen yoghurt machines during the height of the food trend in 2013; being at the heart of the Arnott’s Biscuits’ Queensland Rovema packaging project; and helping Coca-Cola Amatil set up its PET blow fill lines across Australia.

David is proud of the company’s history. In 1970 it had a staff of 24. Fast forward almost 50 years and those numbers have grown to more than 100, with 55 of them having notched up more than 10 years’ service, while 10 have 25 years’ of service. David is optimistic about the future. He knows there are hurdles ahead, but nothing that cannot be overcome.

“Packaging is under attack from all sides – from environmentalists, the sustainability side of the world, and the politics is interesting,” he said. “There is a lot of pressure for film manufacturers to make biodegradable and compostable films. That includes the likes of PET bottles. There’s still going to be a big demand for packaging, it just needs to be more sustainable. The packaging industry needs to sell their message better.”

And David is not one to wax lyrical about making packaging more sustainable.
Already J.L.Lennard is leading by example with its Pod Pack business, which it started in 2006.

“With our ESE coffee pod business we are about to launch a pod that includes a film which will make it a fully compostable product,” he said.

He is also a practical man, in the sense that packaging is going nowhere in the near future. It is necessary for so many reasons, but the main one is down to consumers themselves. They have certain expectations and demands. Sure, these days they are more interested in what a product is packed in, but the reality is it does have to packed in something.

Sound governance and having good people on board is shown by the fact that the company has lasted for 140 years. David’s son Henry joined the company in 2004, so the next generation is ready to step into the senior management of the firm. Does he still think there is room in the modern world for medium-sized family businesses when a lot of the multi-nationals like nothing better than to take over successful businesses and add them to their portfolio?

“These types of businesses are great to work for. I think there’s a lot more loyalty in family-owned businesses than there is in public companies,” he said. “If times are tough, family businesses work hard to retain their people. I think that is very important. People appreciate it and the loyalty is a two way street.

“Family businesses are much more reactive too. We make decisions quickly and don’t necessarily have to wait for board meetings to get things approved.”

David believes the company will be around for the next 140 years as it builds on the resilience that has seen it through many good times since its inception all those years ago.

Global Packaging Trends Report shows modest growth in 2015

The recent Global Packaging Trends Report for 2015, which was sponsored by Australian Packaging & Processing Machinery Association (APPMA), shows three influencers making a mark in every region: growing consumer awareness of health and wellness, stronger influence of recycling and environmental issues, and increasing disposable income and purchasing power. 

Other important regional trends include urbanisation, convenience, smaller pack sizes, branding strategies, Internet retailing, and premiumisation. 

Globally, flexible plastic remains the dominant pack type with PET Bottles in second place. Pack types such as brick liquid cartons and PET bottles will register the highest growth rates.
"These trends are affecting packaging because they're driving consumers' purchasing choices," says Mark Dingley, Chairman, APPMA. 

"Recyclability and reusability of packaging are dominant trends and the report is predicting that this will continue as PET and glass bottle usage increases."

Packaging markets in the Middle East and Africa are anticipating 5.3 per cent CAGR growth in volume, but forecasts for Western Europe and North America land at the other end of the spectrum, with 0.4 per cent and 0.5 per cent, respectively.

The expansion in the Middle East and Africa is the result of increasing exposure to modern lifestyles, and is manifesting in growth opportunities available for packaging of carbonates, biscuits, and yogurt and sour milk products. 

In Asia Pacific, forecast for 4.3 per cent CAGR increases in volume, the increasing demand for PET bottles, particularly in the bottled water category, supports health and wellness concerns.

North America, on the other hand, is a mature market, but consumers are developing growing interest in several categories. These include healthy categories such as bottled water, and areas of innovation, such as confectionery.

Globally, the report notes flexible plastic remains the dominant pack type, accounting for 29 per cent of the market, while PET bottles (12 per cent of the market) will be among the fastest growing, with 4.7 per cent CAGR. Bottled water is expected to add 135 billion units through 2019, accounting for 54 per cent of the absolute volume growth in PET bottle use. While beverage packaging drives growth in PET and glass, categories such as confectionery and biscuits prop up flexible packaging use.

To access a copy of the Executive Summary please email the APPMA on appma@appma.com.au

ICA keeps the Coopers flowing

Recently, Industrial Conveying (Aust) completed a project for glass bottle manufacturer Orora Glass. Warehouse manager Darren Boswell said ICA was the obvious choice when faced with a logistics and materials handling problem.

“Our client, Coopers Brewery, installed a system to automate the removal of packaging from the pallets with a robot that cuts the straps. This presented us with a problem because Coopers then required the pallets to be delivered without the stretch wrap that supports the straps.” 

Boswell explained that Orora’s trailers were not engineered to deliver the quantity of bottles required by Coopers without that stretch wrap in place. As a result, the pallets – each containing 4400 glass bottles – were collapsing in transit. The cost of both clean up and replacement was significant.

After purchasing new trailers engineered to support the load, Orora found the loading docks needed to be modified to fit the trailer dimensions. Without these modifications, the loading and unloading of the trailers added 40 minutes of manual handling time to each load.

“We engaged ICA to go onsite and look at the problem. Not only were they the OEM for the docks, but having worked with them before we were confident in their expertise.”

ICA has a long history in the beverage industry, with many clients now using roll-on roll off docks to automate the loading and unloading of pallets. This optimises efficiency by reducing the time required to complete the task from 40 minutes to as little as five minutes. It also enables staff to be redeployed to other areas of the business, maximising productivity.

ICA General Manager Bruce Granger said the idea is to automate docks so virtually no manual handling is involved.
 
"The less handling, the better the return per truck trip.  When you take into consideration that most depots have the capacity to load and unload on a 24/7 basis, over the course of each financial year our clients see very significant returns.”

As well as the financial benefits of modifying the docks to fit the trailers, Boswell said there were three key performance indicators used to quantify the success of the project: fast turnaround time, minimal disruption to deliveries and a willingness to work around the client. 

“Knowing that ICA is an Australian company with a network of local suppliers gave us the confidence that we could get this done with minimal fuss. ICA sent its team to South Australia on the weekends to complete the work in between deliveries. The process was faultless from concept to completion.”