Berlin Packaging CEO talks growth by acquisition strategy

"We do see acquisitions as platforms for growth," he said. "As such, we integrate them quickly and fully into our operations, taking the best practices of both companies as we go."

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Andrew Berlin, chairman and CEO of Berlin Packaging, told PlasticsToday that the company has experienced decades of organic growth. However, with the recent announcement that the Chicago-based supplier recently bought United States Container Corp., it marked the fourth acquisition for Berlin Packaging in three years.

With the integration of United States Container Corp. personnel and operations over the next few months, Berlin Packaging will have more than 90 sales and warehouse locations across North America, more than 120 packaging consultants and sales managers, and annual revenues approaching $800 million and growing rapidly. The recent transaction increases Berlin Packaging's national footprint with an expanded presence in California and Arizona markets.

United States Container Corp. is a California-based distributor of industrial and rigid packaging serving the food, beverage, pharmaceutical, agricultural, paint and coating, chemicals, and personal care markets. The company's Sunburst Bottle online store, which supplies bottles and container products to customers of all sizes, delivers packaging out of its Sacramento headquarters.

Both Berlin Packaging and United States Container Corp. each sell a high amount of plastic packaging, Berlin said.

"This combination opens up new opportunities and new suppliers to each other's sales teams," he said. "This means we will sell even more plastic packaging, custom and stock as we move into 2013."

This past May, Berlin Packaging expanded the company's presence in the Northeast when they acquired Connecticut-based Lerman Container, a packaging distributor with customers across multiple vertical markets.

In 2010, Berlin Packaging acquired Pittsburgh-based All-Pak and Chicago-based Continental Packaging Solutions.

Berlin said the company does not "slash and burn" operating expenses and personnel but instead invests time and money into the businesses to catalyze growth.

"We are delighted that every one of our recent acquisitions is enjoying strong growth," he said. "Berlin Packaging is not a distributor; we are a hybrid packaging supplier, meaning we take the best elements of manufacturers, distributors, and value-added service providers. This means there are multiple platforms around which we can make acquisitions."

Even though all four recent acquisitions featured U.S.-based companies, Berlin said the company's strategy is to expand its geographic footprint as a whole.

"We are actively looking at acquisitions in the packaging space," he said. "This includes additional acquisitions in the rigid packaging market, both inside and outside of the U.S., as well as purchases of suppliers in other packaging segments."

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