Shopping just isn’t the same without a stylish bag. Likewise, in the supermarket, a good coffee in attractive packaging is more eye-catching than any other. Likewise, a hamburger, if not wrapped in greaseproof paper, would be very uncomfortable to eat. All these consumer conveniences are possible at Bemisal, a manufacturer and exporter of commercial and industrial packaging, which in 2015 celebrates its 50th anniversary in the local and regional market.
The company presided and directed by Francisco Quiñónez since its beginnings, is present in 12 countries, including the United States, Mexico, Central America, Belize, Barbados, Jamaica, and Peru.
Among its first customers were the cement industry and animal feed manufacturers.
Since 1975, the company adopted European concepts in processes and manufacturing, as well as state-of-the-art technology, to achieve greater competitiveness. It was the first company in the region to offer a bag of cement with fewer layers and better quality and costs.
Today, its technological advances enable it to supply special packaging to the pharmaceutical, cement, chemical, and commercial industries.
“From Mexico to Panama and the Caribbean, this is the largest company in the region in this business,” says Quiñonez.
It operates two plants that manufacture multi-layer paper sacks, commercial bags, polypropylene rolls, and margarine packaging.
One of the plants, in Santa Ana, operates different lines, such as wrappers for fast food, packaging for fatty foods, as well as for flour, rice, sugar, and FFS (form, fill, and seal) bags. The Metapán plant manufactures bags exclusively for Holcim.
In total, both plants represent 15,800 m² of industrial roof, four hectares of operating areas, three multilayer case lines, plus seven sublines representing 150 million sacks per year, and 150,000 sheets per day for hamburger sales.
Bemisal has a capacity of 23,000 metric tons per year of paper conversion to manufacture multiwall sacks and 5,000 metric tons per year to manufacture different types of bags.
Bemisal has had an average growth rate of 23.5%, between 2009 and 2014, with exports moving in ranges of 68 to 65% between 2009 and 2013. By 2015, it aims to recover exports by 58%.
In 2009, Bemisal expanded the plant with the addition of a new 1,300 square meter production area with more state-of-the-art machinery.
In 2014, Bemisal acquired Holcim’s subsidiary sack factory in Metapán, raising its production by 100 percent. The amount of this transaction was not disclosed by Quiñonez. All Holcim subsidiaries in Central America are supplied by Bemisal.
Quiñónez does not rule out opening another Bemisal plant in the region through an acquisition, of which he declined to disclose details.
In 2015, the businessman considered that may be the best sales month in the company’s history, but he also declined to disclose the figure. Sales growth is expected to be 25%, compared to 2014.
For the next five years, Bemisal visualizes itself with more investment projects, due to its position in different markets, for example, in the “ceramic glue” bags, they consider themselves #1 in the region and the same position for the packaging of seeds, corn and beans, as well as in the packaging sector for fast food and pickles.
“Anyone who is in this business knows that Bemisal is #1. It’s hard to be #1 (…) Volume is not important as as quality and the value you add to customers. The concept of quality is very important,” says Quiñonez.
The behavior of the packaging market is growing as per capita income grows. Consumers are buying more and so is the industry, he said.
For the next five years, Bemisal plans to have a presence in other countries, including those with booming demand for fast food and the commercial sector.
Currently, the company is exploring the Peruvian and Guatemalan markets, in which it could evaluate the direct presence, however, Quiñónez did not want to reveal details.
In terms of internal investment, Bemisal plans to improve technology in the manufacture of pet food packaging.
“That means we are going to expand in capacity and printing quality. At the time of purchase, the aesthetics of the printing guides consumers a lot,” he exemplified.
Bemisal employs 140 workers at the Santa Ana plant and 50 in Metapán.
Bemisal was selected by ASI to receive the Entrepreneur Award, given to entrepreneurs who strive to move their businesses forward with innovation and determination.
Bemisal is considered by ASI as a leading company in the paper, cardboard and graphic arts sector.
According to the ASI press release, Bemisal’s success is due to its investments and diversification of production capacities to take advantage of markets for new and better products in industry and commerce.