LANSKROUN, Czech Republic—SOMA, producer of flexographic printing presses, plate mounters, laminators and slitter rewinders, is pleased to announce Baltimore metro-based Vac Pac has invested in an 8-color 59-in. SOMA Optima2 flexographic press. Along with the Optima2 press they have purchased an automated SOMA S-Mount plate mounter.
Founded in 1928 as Duradene, a maker of cosmetics, today Vac Pac Inc has grown to a multi-generational family business focused on packaging. The company’s 30 employees design, print and manufacture bags and pouches for bakery, poultry, meat, seafood and industrial applications. The company specializes in high-temperature cook-in packaging for oven and microwave cooking as well as high-barrier shrink bags. Vac Pac is a longtime leader and innovator in high-temperature packaging, holding patents for bag design since 1968. Vac Pac exports finished products around the world through partnerships in South America, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom—and has prospects in other European countries and Asia.
“In the barrier shrink bag business, there are about five companies that are heavily involved in the market,” noted Matt Tary, Vac Pac president. “Three of our competitors are billion dollar businesses. It means that Vac Pac has to work harder to execute a successful business plan and earn our customers’ respect.”
Vac Pac currently owns two flexographic presses, a 6-color and a 10-color, but are replacing their existing 6-color press with the SOMA Optima2. Their challenge was that, as a smaller company, they needed to modernize and push the boundaries of their work to get new business. They expect that the quality of the SOMA Optima2 press will allow them to do so.
“Our company is very different from most small converters. Many of them specialize in only one type of work. We get involved in a number of very specialized niches, changing materials very often from job to job, from shrink tubing to poly sheeting to PET materials for oven roasting. We looked for equipment that is versatile. The SOMA Optima2 was the first flexo press with real potential to offer flexibility and execute well across all our demands,” explained Tary. “For example, while we produce very good print quality work, our limitation has been that we currently print on only one side. SOMA can provide its Optima2 press with a turn bar, which will allow us to print both the front and back in one pass, in register. We will now be able to be significantly more aggressive in the market with this two side capability that our customers are looking for.”
Vac Pac was very interested in how other SOMA Optima2 press features could increase their capabilities. This included fast speeds and quick changeovers—which have taken much more time using Vac Pac’s existing presses. “Like any printer, we were interested in faster changeovers and reducing scrap. Tube material is expensive. With the use of the automatic SOMA S-Mount mounter, there will be very little waste in the setup. Reading registration and impression settings automatically into the press will save a lot of time,” said Tary. “The Changeover Wizard is also very intriguing. We have the same problem as everyone—hiring skilled flexo printers. To be able to take untrained people and quickly put them into operation, is the future.”
There are many similarities between SOMA and Vac Pac. “We are both family owned and operated. Thus, as the grandson of the person who moved Vac Pac into packaging, I felt connected with Pavla and Jan, whose father founded SOMA,” added Tary. “We have already been very impressed with our tech consults and have been very comfortable with the purchase experience. The Czech mentality is to build their equipment like a tank, but with intelligence. We’re learning that.”
“Matt told us that SOMA worked with him on the relationship as much as the product,” remembered Garrett Taylor, SOMA sales director, US and Canada. “It was just as important for Matt to find the right business partner as it was to be able to invest in a productive, customizable flexo press. SOMA always makes sure that we solve solutions—and are not just a producer of ‘boxed’ presses.”
The SOMA Optima2 is three times faster than Vac Pac’s existing presses. The press will no longer be the choke point of Vac Pac’s business. It will help them grow and gain new business. “We have been a small company for a long time—perhaps aided by my grandfather’s passion for sailing from Friday through Sunday, every week,” remarked Tary. “I don’t have a boat yet, so we need to grow! We intend to push with the press with even more materials and capabilities, and I am confident SOMA will stand with us every step of the way.”