The box that takes knocks
When it comes to export boxes, APL Cartons has the strongest boxes that you can get in Africa. Founded in 1988, APL Cartons, of SA, was established to facilitate the export fruit market by providing the best corrugated cartons to export the world’s freshest fruit to tables the world over. APL Cartons has distinguished themselves as viable partners to the fruit growing industry through a commitment to outstanding service and excellent quality. Based in Worcester, Western Cape, South Africa, APL Cartons has grown alongside of its clients and has emerged as premier carton providers in one of the world’s more fertile fruit growing regions.
Alwyn Valentine, Managing Director of APL Cartons, believes his company and the industry are both equally “dynamic”. “We are very proud of our value system. When we deal with customers, the value system is also applied,” says Valentine. “We are very open and honest to our customers. We look after our employees very well. We have a variety of clients. We have five shareholders, which are the five biggest bank houses in the country. What we manufacture for fruit it is used locally and for export. Then we have a small amount of industrial clients as well.”
The strength of APL Cartons is what really distinguishes the products. At the end of the day, clients need to know that their produce, the fruits of their labour, are going to be protected in the final exporting stages. To conquer that challenge, APL has their own research and development department and they constantly look at bringing down the cramming of the boxes, but maintaining the strength.
Secondly, the designs make them stronger as well. “We do not allow any bad paper in the boxes. We do testing on a regular basis to ensure we comply with specifications, make sure the boxes can stand and can take the weight on top,” says Valentine.
“We manufacture between one and two million boxes per day, on a five-day week on about 46 weeks per year.”
APL Cartons can anticipate the clients’ needs before the client can in some cases. Based on their extensive experience, the APL team will recommend what type of paper their customers should use and what design. “What we do with research and development, if we do a new box for a customer, we will do the trial like an experiment. We pack the fruit in it and send it overseas. The moment it arrives, one of our research and development people will be there to see what the box looks like when it is offloaded. We will then follow it to ensure that it can handle all the external influences on it.”
If you’re driving around the Worcester area, you may have noticed the shrine to APL Cartons success: the “mega plant” that has all the manufacturing processes under one roof. The average size, in volume, of a plant in South Africa is between 20,000 and 25,000 tonnes per annum; APL Cartons manufacture about 60,000 tonnes per annum. “Really, we are two-and-a-half factories under one roof. Our quality is of a premium standard and we also use top-of-the-line equipment with the latest technology,” Valentine smiles.
APL Cartons know that their incorporation of technology and customer service is what makes them stand apart in the crowd. “Our flat organizational structure and “hands-on” approach results in our clients enjoying the power and impact of a major supplier whilst not losing the drive and energy of a small company. Our commitment to our employees, the community in which we live, and our environment, is driven from a base of a strong value system. This makes us strong.”
A customer service philosophy that can be defined as flexible and focused has led to a loyal customer base. “We are a very low-cost manufacturer and we tell our customers that as we want to be sustainable. If ever our customers have a problem, we are there.”