‘They are guys who follow procedures day in day out’
One of AFP’s regular clients is Bastin Pack, a Belgian producer of flexible packaging. ‘We are a fairly prominent flexo-printers,’ says CEO Michel van de Vyver from his office in Wetteren. ‘That lies eight kilometres south-east of Ghent, along the Ghent-Brussels motorway.’
Bastin Pack celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, and Van de Vyver has led the company for 22 years. The company has 45 employees.
As a producer of packaging, Bastin Pack works primarily for the food industry, a market that is also familiar to AFP. AFP is therefore one of the suppliers of PE, for the multi-layer laminates that the Belgian company produces.
The partnership with AFP arose because of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) certificate. The certificate is issued in accordance with the standard set up by the BRC, describing hygiene and food safety requirements. ‘In Belgium, and actually in the entire Benelux region, we were one of the first converters of flexible packaging to be BRC-certified,’ says Van de Vyver. ‘We have been certified since 2004, even earlier than the big players in the market.’
Not only the food producers, but also their suppliers have to comply with the rules. ‘And since we primarily make packaging for the food industry, it all has to be pure.’ In that same year, he therefore contacted AFP in Apeldoorn, which follows the same rules of play and is also BRC-certified. For that cannot necessarily be taken for granted. ‘There are many “cowboys” in that market,’ Van de Vyver says. ‘They work with outdated machinery, for instance, or work less accurately. And to my mind, that simply doesn’t work too well.’ For example, it can cause variations in the properties to an extent that customers notice them. And Van de Vyver does not want that. ‘We want extruders who go for quality and stability. They do charge a little more, but in the long term, that works out cheaper.’
According to the CEO, you must never be dependent on a single supplier, if only because the lead times can vary. ‘But AFP is a good company, because they can make different types of PEs for the lamination process. They are guys who give you the feeling that they follow the BRC procedures day in, day out. They were one of the first to be certified too.’
Van de Vyver is primarily impressed with the professionalism of the Apeldoorn company. ‘If you have a question, you can of course put that to different parties. You can tell from the feedback how professional they are. We found that just recently at AFP with a specific question about the SMLs, the molecules that are on the forbidden list for food packaging. Two other suppliers were unwilling or unable to let us know the number of molecules, even though that is now mandatory. AFP checked it out and then supplied a list with all the figures. They are really good in that way, that was perfect.’
Michel van de Vyver has been very satisfied with the partnership with AFP for as long as 15 years. And for that reason, he would actually be quite happy to recommend the Apeldoorn company to other people, but, he smiles circumspectly: ‘I’m not too keen to tell competitors in the business where they should buy.’