‘AFP is often our partner in getting an order together.’
It was his grandfather who, when working as a mill-hand in Gouda almost 100 years ago, found a way to start a trade in used burlap sacks. Today, Frank Koemans and his brother John head the Koemans Verpakkingen family business in Bodegraven, which is all about industrial packaging materials.
‘We would have liked to stay in Gouda’, Koemans says. ‘But we no longer had enough room at that location. Now we have more than a hectare of high-rise warehouse and office space in Bodegraven, which is great too.’
As a teenager, when his father was running the business, he often stepped in to help on Saturdays and during holidays. He officially joined Koemans Verpakkingen when he reached 21. ‘And then we switched to industrial packaging materials’, Koemans says.
As the manager responsible for strategic procurement, he very soon came into contact with AEP, the forerunner of AFP. ‘We provide a total package for our clients, and AFP plays a role in that too; wrapping film is an important product group for us. One thing led to another, and AFP has now been an important partner for us for more than 30 years. We do business in serious volumes on good terms, with respect for each other’s interests. We operate at the higher end, with the better quality products.’
Corporate Social Responsibility
Plastic has been discussed a great deal in this market in recent years, and almost everyone wants to reduce film consumption. ‘So then it’s a question of developing high quality film, which means you keep the same quality but can reduce the thickness. That means that overall, you need fewer kilograms of foil to achieve the envisaged result. AFP has clearly proved itself on that score and we feel at home with corporate social responsibility.’
But that is not the only thing that Koemans sees as important. ‘At AFP, there are people with considerable expertise on the level of wrapping machines. It’s an interplay; what can the machine do – and then I’m also talking about the machines of the future – and what can the film do? That all has to be coordinated. All credit to AFP, which does have added value in this.’
That also gives added value to Koemans Verpakkingen itself, the director explains. ‘Big companies like it if you can offer them a wide range. And AFP is very strong in that specific product group, which is also a reason why our clients want to do business with us. There are even big companies that explicitly say that with regard to stretch film, their preference is for the quality of AFP.’
Actually, it is just the same as with cars, Koemans says: ‘There is a market for everything. There are companies that wrap manually, and there are companies with simple wrapping machines. Then you are limited to the fairly simple film, with the price still being the dominant factor. What you supply depends on the needs or requirements of the client. If we can give advice, we often go for quality, including in terms of wrapping machines with a high stretch capacity. For then you can still achieve good results with a high quality film with modest thickness. And then AFP is often our partner in getting it together.’
Koemans also often invites people from AFP to join client visits. ‘On the basis of their expertise, they can inform and advise.’ That is therefore his tip for AFP: make sure that you keep that expertise on board. ‘At a certain point, people retire, and then a chunk of experience can be lost. But presumably that will come as no surprise to AFP and they will train young talent for this.