Scaleup Programme stories: Trak-Rap

The potential of Trak-Rap’s low cost, environmentally friendly packaging machine is huge. Our scaleup journey is just beginning.

Posted on: 21/05/2018

In the world of “end of line” packaging there has not been anything new since the cardboard box and shrink wrapper back in the 1970s. We are on the threshold of changing all that.

Our mission statement is to provide lowest cost, most environmentally friendly packaging machine. Our patented system eliminates the use of heat tunnels – the ovens which shrink thick plastic film onto and around a pack. We have developed a 100 per cent recyclable polymer film in one size which wraps the vast majority of our packs, significantly reducing the complexity and cost of managing and stocking multiple film sizes for different pack sizes. It helps manufacturers and supermarkets achieve their commitment to deliver lighter weight, lower cost and more energy efficient transit and retail-ready packaging.

At present, we are a small business: we employ 16 people and turnover is under ?1m. Our first target is to hit ?8m over the next three to five years but achieving ?100m revenues is feasible. That’s because we are set to revolutionise many markets. We have patented new pack designs so our cold wrap technology can not only wrap ambient products, but fresh and frozen as well. The total addressable market is huge; we believe there are around 4,200 production lines in UK alone that are suitable for our technology.

We have secured some early adopters. The results have been outstanding. We held one with a leading manufacturer of dairy products to package their products for transport and distribution. The company reduced plastic film usage by 68 per cent, achieving a CO2 reduction of 87 tonnes per annum as well as a lower cost per pack. Because our system doesn’t require heat tunnels which burn up electricity, they also reduced the energy used to wrap the packs by 95 per cent.

Building a commercial team

Now we just need to get out there and sell, so we need to build a commercial department – and quickly. We have an inherent cost and environment advantage, so there is a reason for companies to change to our system. We have to make that reason big and compelling enough.

Selling innovative packaging machinery doesn’t just have a long sales cycle; it requires a lot of influencing, as we need to help the manufacturers get the approval from their customers, the supermarkets. That means exhibiting at trade shows, which is another expense.

At the same time, we continue to invest heavily in machine technology in order to increase the variety of packs we can offer, increase production speeds, reduce changeover times, deliver class-leading reliability and first and foremost, do everything safely.

But as we grow, we will also have to invest in our premises and our people. And we need to take advantage of the opportunities for overseas expansion. Overseas expansion, infrastructure, and building a commercial team are the three big things that we need to get right in order to grow.

Joining the Scaleup Programme

So we have to raise funds, and that is not something I have done before. There’s a big difference between being a director of a large corporation and an owner-director having to source finance. We are already gaining expert advice and access to appropriate finance providers by being on the Scaleup Programme.

My other problem is time. Planning for the future can end up at the bottom of the to-do list because you are dealing with the issues of the day. You can have the best intentions but by the end of an all-hands-on-deck day, you don’t spend enough time on strategy. It is the nature of the beast. So the networking opportunity of this programme – of meeting other people who have crossed the gap from having a great idea to scaling it up – is welcome.

We are already gaining expert advice and access to appropriate finance providers by being on the Scaleup Programme.

– Martin Leeming, CEO, Trak-Rap


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