Nearly 60 years ago, a husband and wife team named their new flexible packaging company after their two sons, Glen and Roy. Today, Glenroy, Inc.—the company started by Herb, Ruth, and Roy Jablonka—still operates as a privately held company from its headquarters in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.
“Glenroy is a third-generation, family-owned flexible packaging converter and has proudly been in business since 1965,” says Evan Arnold, company president.
And in 2023, Glenroy marks 30 years as a member of the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA), making it one of the longest-serving members of the trade association that represents the flexible packaging industry from its headquarters near Annapolis, Maryland. For the past several years, FlexPack VOICE® has recognized FPA members who have been with the organization in five-year increments, with Glenroy being among more than 20 companies that have reached one of those milestones. Bamberger Polymers, Sun Chemical Corp., and Windmoeller & Hoelscher (W&H) have been FPA members for 45 years.
Founded and based in Germany, W&H began selling machinery in the United States in the early 1900s.
“Initially, the company had an independent sales representative but then decided to put a stake in the ground and embrace the North American market,” says Andrew Wheeler, president of W&H in North America. The company opened a location in Rhode Island in 1977, joining FPA the following year. “It was clear to the then leadership that joining an organization would be the best way to learn and stay informed about the market, as well as to become involved in the flexible packaging community.”
Wheeler is among FPA members who list per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) and anti-plastics sentiment as primary concerns, relying on FPA to engage with such issues, while fostering relationships with other stakeholders along the way.
“For us, the biggest benefit is the constant interaction and exchange with an enormous customer and supplier base,” Wheeler says. “FPA’s voice in policy is also important. We have been involved with several trade associations and the quality is second to none. After 45 years of consistent membership, we still feel like the FPA adds tremendous value.” Common interests, as well as networking, often are cited by companies as reasons for becoming members of the trade association.
“We joined the FPA to participate in the larger industry and work together to advance it,” says Arnold, who serves on FPA’s board of directors and is a former member of FPA’s Emerging Leadership Council. “The collaboration among various companies not only establishes a robust foundation for the industry but also supports the advancement of products and services.”
One of the companies hitting the 20-year mark is Amcor, whose chief technology officer, William “Bill” Jackson, Ph.D., serves as chair of the FPA board of directors.
“FPA plays an important role in developing and promoting clear external messages to educate on the benefits of flexible packaging, as well as advocating for good and responsible sustainability-related initiatives such as extended producer responsibility (EPR),” Jackson says.
FPA continually seeks new members, with about 16 becoming part of the organization in 2023 through August. One of those is Gualapack US Corp., a global maker of premade spouted pouches based in Italy. It is a fully vertical integrated supplier, from equipment manufacturing—filling lines and services—to flexible laminates and rigid parts such as caps and spouts, says Stefano Manfredi, CEO of Gualapack US and Canada and global sales and marketing director.
Manfredi says the company joined FPA so it could monitor the evolving industry in the United States, with FPA driving common industry interests. He sees the biggest issue facing the flexible packaging industry as transitioning from conventional materials to new specifications so companies can be compliant with future industry and local requirements.
FPA can help provide direction “on how to manage the spec transition toward circularity in the U.S., which is a much more complicated environment and where we have less footprint and knowledge,” Manfredi adds.
Nobelus also joined in 2023. The company based in Knoxville, Tennessee, distributes a variety of specialty laminates and films, says Angie Mohni, vice president of marketing.
“Nobelus has taken the initiative in expanding our reach in the packaging market beyond our current core markets—which include general commercial print, photofinishing, books on demand, and folding cartons—to encompass the prime label and flexible packaging space, as well,” Mohni says. “As flexible packaging is a new market to Nobelus, joining FPA has played an essential role in helping our team learn more about the industry.”
Access to market data, industry news, and engagement opportunities with other companies are among the reasons Nobelus joined, as well, she adds.
“We also appreciate the work the group is doing in legislation around food safety, environmental issues, and sustainable marketing claims,” Mohni says. “Overall, the FPA has played a vital role in keeping us up to date with the latest information in the industry.”
With more states looking to regulate the packaging industry through EPR laws, companies often seek guidance on how to proceed. California, Oregon, Maine, and Colorado have so far passed EPR laws and are in various phases of implementing their rules. Other states are expected to follow.
“A present and ever-growing concern for the industry is how to tackle topics surrounding the use of plastics and the role they play in sustainability, global warming, and a host of other environmental issues,” Mohni says. “While a significant amount of progress has been made in creating legislation and educational resources that address these topics, there is much to be done. It can be easy to point out all the negative effects of plastics without recognizing the positive aspects of these materials and considering the positive and negative implications of various replacement solutions.”
Arnold says FPA has done a good job of making those types of connections, where regulatory and legislative challenges emerge as critical focal points.
“As innovations in recycling and post-life applications of flexible packaging flourish, the legislation must evolve accordingly to align with these advancements,” he says. “Getting the word out on new advancements and innovation is crucial to raise awareness and recognition of flexible packaging.”
Regulatory trends are one of the reasons that Películas Plásticas in Mexico joined FPA in 2018, says Alejandro Monroy Saint Martin, executive president of the packaging division.
“We wanted to get in touch with the industry—to be aware of current trends and regulations that affect flexible packaging,” says the executive president, who sees the biggest issues facing the industry as pollution and contamination issues, as well as recyclability. He would like to see FPA remain focused on eco-friendly packaging and regulations.
From Glenroy’s perspective, FPA has been effective at fostering awareness of legislative and regulatory challenges, while highlighting the benefits of flexible packaging, and that work should continue into the future, Arnold says.
“We’d like to see the FPA continue to concentrate on raising industry awareness of challenges and to collaborate with the industry to disseminate information on innovations and new developments in post-life packaging solutions,” he says.
Thomas A. Barstow is senior editor of FlexPack VOICE®.