Van Hollebeke Plastics (VH Plastics) is a family owned business established in 1969 by Mr. Paul Van Hollebeke and his wife Jenny Verstraete in the city of Roeselare, Belgium. Their son, Frank, is the current CEO. Third generation Hollebekes are currently working in the company, thus securing family succession and a clear vision for the future.
VH Plastics is a producer of custom-made HDPE and LDPE films in widths ranging from 200 to 3600 mm (8“ to 140”) and thicknesses ranging from 5µm to 250µm (0.2 to 10 mils). Formats include sheeting, tubing, open tubing, and gusseted tubing. Applications include lamination films, food packaging and films used in the construction industry.
In late 2018, Mr. Frank Alexy, Sales Manager – Smart Bubble® Lines, and Mrs. Patrizia Bizon-Thiebus, Marketing & Sales Coordinator, for Kuhne Anlagenbau, the blown film division of the Kuhne Group, had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Frank Van Hollebeke and have a candid talk about VH Plastics and it navigates the current business environment.
Mr. Van Hollebeke explained that in their line of business there is constant downward pressure on prices and upward pressure on wages and transportation costs. This creates a situation where obtaining a higher margin on their plastic film is almost impossible. For this reason, operational efficiency and film quality are critical for the success of VH Plastics.
Furthermore, the downward pressure on prices leads the packaging industry to continue downgauging, which means that VH Plastics has to deliver stronger but thinner films. This is made possible by innovations in raw materials, equipment and processing. Downgauging is also tied to environmental concerns, which demands thinner films that result in lower packaging end-of-life volumes. Environmental concerns are also driving the creation of new bioplastics that could well find application in many films in the future, but create new challenges in cost, supply, performance and processability. VH Plastics needs to be prepared for this scenario.
In addition to the above challenges, there is the ever-present one coming from competitors. Mr. Van Hollebeke admits that it is not easy to stay ahead of the competition at all times and to do this they need to keep investing in new state of the art blown film lines. For this reason the latest extrusion lines he has purchased have been Kuhne’s Smart Bubble® blown film lines. “Our Kuhne lines not only deliver the high output required to meet our demands, but are also operator friendly, stable in operation, and produce high and consistent film quality,” expressed Mr. Van Hollebeke.
Regarding the task faced by OEM’s Mr. Van Hollebeke commented,
“The challenge for a machine manufacturer like Kuhne is to continuously invest in technology that will allow producers to lower their cost/kg. This includes reducing the scrap rates, changeover times and energy consumption.”
Finally, from his customers side, he explained that they trust VH Plastics for their film requirements not only due to quality and service, but because its 24/7 production allows them to offer the flexible delivery times that customers appreciate. “We work closely with our customers to ensure that their needs are met when it comes to plastic film. By working closely with them and delivering their needs through clear communication we have built solid long-term relationships with our customers,” stated Mr. Van Hollebeke.
The Kuhne Group wishes to thank Mr. Frank Van Hollebeke for his time and contributions that made the writing of this testimonial possible.
For more information:
VH Plastics: www.vanhollebekeplastics.be
The Kuhne Group: www.kuhne-group.com