Sandra Pannekeet, CEO & owner of JASA Packaging Solutions from Alkmaar, left for Richmond, Virginia at the end of last year to settle down with her family ceasing her hometown Alkmaar in the North of Holland. Here she founded JASA Packaging USA to give new inputs to the activities of the Alkmaar company. "If we want to grow our business, part of our future will be here, in the US” according to the pioneer and entrepreneur pur sang.
A family history of JASA Packaging Solutions
JASA Packaging Solutions specialises to develop, design and construct vertical packaging machines and complete weighing and packaging lines. The company has an impressive resumé going back 34 years. In 1985 Sandra’s father Piet Pannekeet started the company, then named PMT (Pannekeet Machine Techniek).
A highlight was gaining the Corporate Election North Holland Award in 2013 in the medium-sized enterprise category. "We are a real family business. As a kid, when we went on vacation, we first drove past three customers before we set off. But we are also an entrepreneurial company," says Sandra Pannekeet, who took over her father's shares in 2007. But she did not actually start working in the company until 2011. Because first she had to complete her studies in industrial product design in The Hague and achieved a degree financial management at Nyenrode Business University. After she became a management trainee for 2-years at ORMIT.
JASA Packaging Solutions goes USA
Pannekeet: ,,We focus on assisting our customers to find solutions. For a long time, we preferred to do so by coming up with a personal solution for every client. That way we were sometimes blind that this inventive solution could also serve other companies. Recently, we have taken up this challenge by re-structuring our company and improving our marketing. In addition, we have developed a number of high-profile innovations. These are now entering the market, grasping for further internationalization. Now business is on the right track, it is time to expand our horizons. So here we are in The Old Dominion!
We already toil and now we are really going to settle here. We believe JASA Packaging Solutions USA has an enormous potential, therefore we have the ambition to grow 10 million dollars in sales the upcoming five years. In time, JASA Packaging Solutions USA can even become larger than JASA Alkmaar. We will never leave our roots in the Netherlands, although it is very possible we will eventually develop a completely new assembly line in the USA."
JASA Packaging Solutions develops Bag-2-Paper ™
One of the developments in which JASA has taken the lead is packaging without plastic. ,, The demand for these types of products is increasing enormously. Developments of paper with a laminated coating, which is inevitable if you want a packaging to be sealed air or liquid tight, have been taken place branch wide. Packaging without plastic is for us of paramount importance. And so we are deliberate on how to use our machine expertise: how can we produce plastic-free packaging quickly? We went looking for partners to assist us in this.
One of our board members, Hendrik van den Berg, started working on an idea. He accomplished an invention and has just patented it. Bag-2-Paper ™ was born. Bag-2-Paper ™ is 100 percent paper without a plastic coating. The packaging is closed without sealing and is completely suitable for recycling. Bag-2-Paper ™ is a revolution on the field of sustainable packaging. Our innovative Bag-2-Paper ™ vertical packaging machine is ideal for making more sustainable packaging for dry products, such as flower bulbs, potatoes, onions, garlic, shallots, nuts and seeds. And by the virtue of our vertical packaging system, products are packed at lightning speed.
Bag-2-Paper ™ is very well received and as we speak we are sharing this innovation in our workfield. The time is there! Our Italian partner brought 50 potential clients to our booth during the Fruit Logistica exhibition recently held in Berlin. Now we are negotiating with some major European parties. This attention is new to JASA."
JASA Packaging Solutions in the USA of Donald Trump
JASA is active in 30 countries worldwide and works with local dealers abroad. This was also the case in the US and we will remain so in the future. Initially we focussed on the search for more dealers, but after intensive research and following a business training course in Boston, it emerged and it was necessary to have a branch to respond to the demand for JASA products properly.
The business climate in the US is great and if you do it right, this country has unlimited possibilities. You can extend your network and people allow you to do business. Dutch entrepreneurs have a good reputation, especially in the field of agriculture and food. Moreover, a consequence of President Trump's policy is cheap labour, which is still widely used in America, is becoming increasingly difficult to find. Automation is the key answer. And that is exactly what JASA is good at.
Jasa Packaging Solutions and Richmond
The sleever is a product that we started in America, the machine is easy to place in a production line. The cardboard sleeves are on the rise in scale packs and "ready to eat". It’s booming in the Netherlands and the USA. In March we will already deliver our first machines to a Texan customer.
The choice of Richmond in Virginia is indeed a conscious one. You find many other Dutch companies here. The packaging industry was already large in this part of the country because of the tobacco industry. "We were welcomed with open arms and the city of Richmond guided us around. Richmond is an emerging and vibrant city and people are contend when companies settle in the region. "
New flow now JASA Packaging Solutions USA has foot on the American ground
For Sandra, therefore, exciting times start now she has changed Alkmaar for Richmond. It is totally in line with the development of the company as she has experienced this. ,,In my early days at JASA I mainly worked in the company rather than determine the companies strategy as I do now. The American adventure gives a new flow to our company and its employees. You feel our status has changed. We now receive open applications for positions that before we couldn’t find people for. Our appearance appeals and that is beneficial for everyone. In terms of organisation and management, we are well organized. Mainly because of that we could make the move to Richmond. In Alkmaar we have an excellent general manager, the experienced Eduard de Haan who is assisted by Hendrik van den Berg, our R&D man for a long time. Both are also attached to the company as shareholders. "
A lady in the Packaging industry
As a woman are you going to stand your ground in Virginia?
,,You don't see many women in the machine business, but I don't feel that as an issue. Anyone with ambition and a plan, will be listened to seriously. In the end you always have to prove yourself, whether you are a man or a woman. I notice so far, being a lady in this position is experienced as refreshing. A slight variety than men in gray suits. "