For more than 35 years, we have been considered professional experts in packaging handling, sourcing and supply. We've built our business on a foundation of hustle and heart. This is our story.
Incorporated in 1987 at the height of the Australian share market crash, with a position of zero sales
In 1987, an ambitious young accountant, Ken Pearson, quit his senior executive role running someone else’s manufacturing plant, and identifying a gap in the market for packaging distribution, decided to strike out on his own. Plasdene was incorporated, being a combination of “Plas” for plastic products, and “dene”, as homage to the businesses he’d previously managed.
In the first year of business, Ken was the sole employee of the trading company Australian Flexible Industries based in Sydney, selling plastic bags and record covers out of the boot of his car. The only business plan he had, was in his head.
With a wife, a mortgage and two small children to feed, he’d often ask the customers to give him an order, so that he could feed the kids… Little did they know, how true that was!
We caught the flat football; pumped it up along the way!
Soon thereafter, opportunity arose to tender for ACI Glass Packaging’s Wine Bottle Distribution contract in the state of Victoria. Not knowing a great deal about wine (other than it’s nice to drink), we threw our hat in the ring, and considered that if we were successful, we’d figure it out along the way. We got the gig, and so began our long-term, national distribution partnership with ACI Glass (which incorporated KCI Indonesia, became O-I Glass Australia, and in 2020, was sold to Visy).
Within a year, a chance encounter saw Plasdene acquire an Australian outpost glass packaging distribution business from UK-based container manufacturer, Beatson Clark. That business, known as Glass-Pak, had a small, but established client base in mainly food and pharmaceutical industries, in both Melbourne and Sydney.
And so began our history as a packaging importer. Ken asked his wife Margaret to join The Company on a temporary, part-time basis, to help “mind the phones”. More than thirty years later, Margaret is still in the business managing the procurement team in a National Business Support role, across more than 10,000 SKUs. If Ken was the brains, Margaret was definitely the engine of the fledgling Company.
In 1993 Plasdene Glass-Pak achieved ranking of 19th Fastest Growing Privately Owned Companies in Australia, by BRW Price Waterhouse, and cemented a strong position within NSW Top 500 Companies in 1998. In keeping with the discerning quality standard required of the pharmaceutical client base, in 1994 the Company achieved quality endorsement ISO9001:1994.
Rapid growth saw us expand into Queensland, and ambitiously take on larger premises in each state, without ever expecting to fill such large, empty spaces. But fill we did, requiring custom built warehousing in Sydney, and then Brisbane.
Plasdene enters the Tasmanian market
The shutdown of the ACI glass plant in Tasmania in 1997 saw customers transitioned to Plasdene for ongoing service and supply, and eventually, a Plasdene distribution site was established in Hobart. The grand opening was attended by the state premier, and televised on city news.
From Italy, to the back of the ute; the establishment of the Packaging Plaza™ concept
Recognising a gap in the market for less than pallet volumes, in 1998 Plasdene pioneered the cash and carry concept in Australia, with the investment in automated shrink tunnel machinery and Repack Centre team to pack down bulk pallet stock sourced locally and as far flung as Italy and England, into small carton and shrink packs, for sale to the general public through the establishment of Packaging Plazas™ across Australia. Suddenly, a vast range of specialty packaging shapes and types became accessible to all scale customers, negating large manufacturing minimum order quantities and client investment in costly commercial equipment, such as forklifts.
Preparation for the turn of the century ‘digital age’
By 1998 we were future proofing against an expected Y2K disaster by undertaking a complete computer upgrade, and key staff were issued with the company’s very first laptop computers! It seemed this thing called “The Worldwide Web” was here to stay, and the first company website was launched.
Acquisition and Expansion
In 2002 the acquisition of sub-distributor Warabrook Containers created a PG-P Hunter NSW branch. In the same year we established a distribution centre in Adelaide, creating a 6 branch network.
Finally, the missing link.
In 2004 we took the leap and headed West, achieving national distribution status with the opening of the seventh Plasdene Glass-Pak branch in Perth, Western Australia.
The “kids” join the business
Like most offspring of passionate entrepreneurs who are busy scaling a rapidly growing business, daughters Jayne and Kacy Pearson cut their teeth in the family firm during school holidays; wadding caps, filing, packing bottles, and sometimes racing office chairs in the warehouse… Despite many family holiday disruptions from all manner of work-related crisis back home (including warehouse floods, theft, furnace fires, staff resignations and customer bankruptcies) the kids nevertheless caught the Family Business bug. After gaining tertiary qualifications and industry experience in their relevant fields, both joined Plasdene full time in the early 2000’s, becoming Next Generation leaders, and thereby establishing a multi-generational family business, and a long-term vision for PG-P.
Whilst the old stock cards of the 1980’s had long gone, by 2010 it was evident a dynamic and rapidly expanding business needed a sophisticated ERP inventory management system. Significant financial investment was made in enterprise-wide business management software suite and WMS, revolutionizing the real time information, financial reporting and inventory management capabilities across the business.
Acquisitions delivered scale
In 2011 Hunter-based wine bottle distribution business J. McCarthys was sold to Plasdene Glass-Pak, and by 2015, we were ready for further expansion. The acquisition of WA and SA-domiciled Silverlock Packaging grew our size by 50%, making us arguably the largest independent, family-owned packaging distribution business in Australasia.
There followed a rigorous integration program, culminating in transition to new premises in Adelaide, and investment in a state-of-the-art, custom-built facility in Perth, which opened for business in 2018.
In quick succession, the business was awarded the Supply Chain Excellence award by prestigious client Blackmores, inducted into the Family Business Australia Hall of Fame, recognised as a Top 200 Business of Tomorrow by Westpac, and an Australian Business Growth Awards finalist.
Unprecedented challenges & a lesson in resilience
2020 was the year the Covid-19 pandemic hit our shores. In a world of rapid challenge and change, being a private enterprise meant we had the flexibility to swiftly adapt to changing market conditions, and the scope to innovate with measured risks.
Utilising existing supply lines, we were rapidly able to source much needed packaging and PPE supplies to support essential services businesses, particularly in the pharmaceutical and food industries, and respond to the insatiable need for hand sanitizer packaging. As supply lines were cut everywhere, the demand for packaging was unprecedented. The resilience demonstrated by the Plasdene team was extraordinary, especially given three of our seven branches endured extended lockdown conditions in Covid hotspots in Victoria and NSW, rapidly adopting workarounds to remain operational.
The diversity of our product mix, supply lines, industry and geographical spread helped de-risk our business regardless of the local economic or environmental market situation. With a lot of tenacity from our team, we continued to thrive.
From the start up position of zero sales and one employee more than three decades ago, the Company has made 7 acquisitions and weathered six significant economic downturns, endured through fire, floods, bad debt, theft, strikes and a global pandemic!
Through smart investment, measured accounting, courage, and a lot of hard work, the business is now a truly global player in packaging supply.