Nippon Dynaware Packaging – Driving Packaging Forward
We learn how Nippon Dynawave may be showing the way for the Nippon Paper Group as a whole.
Nippon Dynawave is a liquid packaging board and market pulp producer that operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate, the Nippon Paper Group.
Nippon Paper Industries acquired us from Weyerhaeuser corporation in 2016,” recalls John Carpenter, President of Nippon Dynawave Packaging, (“NDP”). “Our primary focus is providing quality board to the fresh liquid packaging market and, via a large capital deployment, dried market pulp bales to specialty paper grade and tissue clients around the world.”
Despite only existing in its current form for the last five years, the company’s history stretches back much further than that.
“Our relationships with our carton customers span over 40 years. We offer high-quality products, a highly responsive approach to customer service, and make sure customers are satisfied with the product they receive,” Carpenter says. “Our focus on innovation and creating effective barrier products for fresh liquid cartons is also a key selling point.”
At the same time, Nippon Dynawave benefits from its location on the USA’s West Coast, giving it easy access to the Pacific Rim.
“It means we have a very short supply chain with most of our customers, where our primary competitors are located in Scandinavia and the Eastern US,” Carpenter points out.
While Nippon Dynawave is well-positioned, it also has challenges to overcome, particularly in terms of the costs of goods sold.
“We’re currently in an inflationary environment, whether it’s for labour, raw materials, or freight,” Carpenter explains.
At the same time as managing the cost of resources, Nippon Dynawave is also looking at how it can reduce the resources it consumes and improve its sustainability efforts. As Carpenter tells us, “We must be a leader in sustainability, and as the world looks at eliminating plastic for single-use applications, we have to ask, ‘How we as a paper board manufacturer can take advantage of these shifting market opportunities to improve our own environmental performance?’”
To help address both of these sets of challenges, Nippon Dynawave has made a series of investments into the future of the company.
“We deployed significant capital shortly after our acquisition by NPI. We worked to develop a road map for our strategy going forward. Out of that process came the approval for our pulp dryer,” Carpenter says.
The pulp dryer has become a valuable tool in extending Nippon Dynawave’s reach.
Prior to the acquisition by NPI, NDP manufactured wet lap, a pulp that is essentially 50% water and could only be economically shipped a short distance from the mill. “Now that we produce dried bales, we can effectively ship our DYNAKRAFT™ pulp to any customer around the world”, Carpenter explains. “That was a significant move for us because it helps us optimize our fibre production and it opens up a world of new customers”.
Nippon Dynawave has also invested in improving the print quality and basis weight of its liquid packaging board. “By installing and operating a new Metal Belt Calendar system we can effectively reduce the weight of our board and improve the printability at the same time.”
“A couple of the fundamental jobs of operating a pulp and paper manufacturing business is to improve machine reliability and work at utilizing fewer resources to produce the same or more product over time,” Carpenter tells us.
A Place to Launch a Career
In the wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are encountering new challenges. Like many businesses, Nippon Dynawave has found that attracting and retaining employees can be challenging. At the same time, a whole wave of baby boomer employees is now retiring out of the workforce.
There are two components to Nippon Dynawave’s recruitment efforts.
“Part of our vision is to be a great place for employees to build a career”. “Our hourly staff is generally sourced locally. We’ve been successful at recruiting because we offer competitive wages and benefits and provide a great environment to work.
When it comes to senior or specialised positions, Dynawave’s approach has been a little more aggressive.
“We’ll recruit specialized positions from other industries and manufacturing operations and show people we’re an attractive option, and were based in the beautiful Pacific North-West,” Carpenter says. “We work with a select set of recruiters to identify those candidates.”
In either case, the company understands the need to hire and develop talented people.
“We have a lot of long-term employees who find NDP a great place to work,” Carpenter says. “My job is to continue to work on making our vision for our employees a reality.”
One of the aspects of Nippon Dynawave that attracts new talent is the very real and material good the company does in the community.
“We have the Nippon Dynawave Charitable Foundation,” Carpenter points out. “We developed that early on to give money and time back to our community. Each year we support several local charitable organizations, and we are regularly recognised by several charities as significant donors.”
Nippon Dynawave specifically contributes to a local women’s shelter, provides food for the needy and services to single moms. The foundation has become recognised widely in the community as a successful philanthropic endeavour, which is valuable from a recruitment angle.
“Most of our employees live within a 25-mile radius and want us to support the community that they live in,” Carpenter acknowledges.
The Future of Packaging
As well as doing valuable work within the community, Nippon Dynawave is pushing the frontiers of the packaging sector itself.
“We have a very agile R&D group, and they work closely with our customers that support some of the largest global consumer packaging companies,” Carpenter points out. “They need their products inside the package to be protected. For example, they don’t want their high-quality orange juice to degrade and lose its flavour over time. Therefore, they need unique barriers in the coating on the board to prevent oxygen from entering the carton. So, we’re working at developing more effective oxygen barriers that are also more cost-effective for the customer.”
With these new developments, and the investment that has already been put into the firm, Nippon Dynawave is a company with strong growth potential, not only for itself but for the Nippon Paper Group as a whole.
“The parent company would like to continue to grow in the packaging segment. It has been primarily focused on printing and writing papers in Japan,” says Carpenter “However, demand is declining there just as it has in the US. They want to grow outside Japan, so Nippon Dynawave can act as a foundational business for them. We can help to grow the packaging side of the business, and we see the opportunity to increase capacity or acquire complementary businesses in the packaging space in the future. As a whole, the Group is moving steadily away from just focusing on printing and writing papers, heading more towards packaging and sustainable solutions outside of Japan, and we plan to play a significant role in their success.”