Class Plastics: more than just packaging
Madonna once said: ‘We are living in a material world,’ but Class Plastics’ Daniel Carapellotti and Mario Nastri explained that they are far more than just packaging, at our first Success Stories breakfast of 2017.
Carapellotti and Nastri took the reins at Class Plastics a decade ago having, unbeknown to them, been groomed for succession by the business’ original owner.
Since 2008 they’ve navigated that ownership transition, moved premises, opened a factory interstate, and have continuously upped the ante in the packaging game.
With the business growing faster than their small team could facilitate, the passionate pair turned to Matthews Steer for external support, a sounding board and for help to access capital or grants that would assist them to realise their plans and dreams.
“Adrian Misiano knocked on our door and made a play for us to come across,” says Carapellotti. We had a lot going on in the business, and knew the business was on the way up, but that we needed a lot of guidance.
“We had good people, and we were shipping all over the country, but we didn’t have the controls in place, or the databases, to make the right decisions.”
Nastri agrees. “Pre-Matthews Steer we made decisions with no business plan. Now we have a strategy,” he says.
Both aged in their 40s, they juggle the demands of young families and the challenges of growing a factory based business.
One of the major roadblocks they faced over the years was establishing a branch in Queensland, only for a fertilizer client (worth 50 per cent of their business) to burn to the ground, and their second client in the Sunshine State to switch allegiance to a different supplier.
“Basically, we had no business left in Queensland,” says Carapellotti. “But it never crossed our mind to walk away. Our only option was hard work, constant work. Networking across the country to sign new business and never giving up.”
Class Plastics’ original owner fostered a family environment and both Nastri and Carapellotti have been committed to maintaining that legacy.
The business faced a challenge when they relocated from East Keilor to Truganina, with staff not keen to drive the extra distance to work, but invested time and energy into softening that blow by planning an employee friendly environment with air conditioning, a tea room and kitchen facilities.
“We’ve got really good staff retention at Class Plastics and half our staff have been with us for 10 years-plus and have specialised skills,” says Nastri. “Robotics has brought some changes in recent years, but we’ve up-skilled our core staff and transitioned them into new roles and it’s been an improvement for everyone.”
What’s next for Class Plastics? Dynamic duo Carapellotti and Nastri are looking to increase sales, improve staff capability and expand the business to produce new packaging types, and they’re now confident they have the infrastructure to execute successfully.
“We’ve never regretted it to this day. Matthews Steer is like our business partner,” says Carapellotti. “Five years ago we were slaves to the business. We’re not slaves to the business any more.”
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