THE husband and wife team sold Consupaq – a leading converter of rigid plastic jars, containers and tubes for the personal care and pharmaceutical markets to the Astrapak Group in 2010 so that they could start a family and pursue other interests.
Renee proceeded to consult for Astrapak before being appointed as Group commercial & systems executive heading up the rollout of ERP systems with fully-integrated planning and monitoring capabilities to boost the Group’s production levels.
In 2015, she launched One Vision Systems to help manufacturers improve their health and safety compliance and workforce management by utilising Rapid Global’s software suite. The product range provides e-learning, online inductions, contract management software, site access control systems, incident and hazard reporting, online auditing, preventative maintenance software and visitors access systems.
Sean, on the other hand, semi-retired to look after the couples’ two young children, build an aeroplane, develop property along the North Coast and ride his mountain bike across southern Africa.
‘Packaging has, however, always been close to my heart, and I’ve stayed abreast of the latest technologies by attending many international trade fairs including K, Interpack, Labelexpo, and Fakuma,’ Sean comments.
At the beginning of 2016 I started contacting a few old packaging colleagues and in February 2017 decided to get involved in the industry again by opening Teqal in KZN’s Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone, he explains.
Dean Mitchell, a highly-skilled toolmaker and entrepreneur – who owned Verimould and supplied some of the best injection mould tooling to Consupaq during Sean and Renee’s tenure – has joined the Kirkhams in this venture as a partner and shareholder.
‘Dean’s high-end packaging tool-making experience and strong production knowledge are a valuable asset to Teqal’s future successes,’ comments Sean.
The three business partners, Sean and Renee Kirkham, and Dean Mitchell form the backbone of this venture and represent a broad spectrum of expertise. Sean focuses on the marketing and product development side, while
Dean is responsible for the operational aspects as well as tooling and design, and Renee brings her financial and ERP/real-time monitoring systems expertise to the mix.
‘Additionally, we’ve attracted many of our original team, strengthening our abilities substantially. We’re also not afraid of investing in world-class equipment to uphold the highest quality standards,’ Sean remarks. ‘All of these factors ensure that Teqal meets customers’ criteria when it comes to experience, knowledge, manufacturing and technology.’
‘We wanted to extend our offering by taking control of our design and injection mould tooling with a modern in-house design centre and toolroom to provide customers with innovative packaging solutions,’ explains Sean. ‘From the initial engagement up to the end product, we work with customers every step of the way.’
‘Additionally, our team looks at every detail and examines how we can possibly improve on it. Sometimes, you just have to take a step back and realise that there might be a better way of doing things than in which they’ve been done before.’ He adds that Teqal is also getting all the systems in place to be ISO 9001 and 14000 certified during Q3 of 2019.
Teqal provides injection moulded rigid plastic packaging to the cosmetics and industrial sectors. Sean comments that Teqal’s product offering is cost-effective, energy-efficient, and has less impact on the environment. ‘The only problem customers are faced with is choosing a product from our extensive offering,’ Sean quips.
The industrial range includes components that support the motor and gear oil industry. Additionally, Teqal has a strategic alliance with Verigreen Packaging, supplying the caps, plugs and spouts for the company’s extensive bottle range.
Through focusing solely on their core competencies and manufacturing knowledge, the two companies offer high- levels of innovation, quality and competitive pricing.
Teqal also recently launched a customisable cosmetic jar as part of its Reflections cosmetics packaging range. Sean describes the Reflections range as a classic design with a contemporary touch. ‘The 50ml cosmetic jar allows brands to differentiate themselves through shape, colour, decoration and transparency,’ he explains.
‘We’re always looking at ways of minimising any negative impacts our operations might have on the environment.
Our offices, for instance, run off solar panels and this has already reduced power consumption levels. Furthermore, we invest in servo-driven machines because they’re energy- efficient, half the footprint of other machinery and provide higher production outputs.’
Talking about what lies ahead, Sean explains that Teqal is looking at expanding its customer base, turnover and facility over the next two years. ‘Investing in modernising, standardising, sustainability initiatives and growth opportunities are all important for ensuring the company flourishes.’