Client Profile: Detmold Group

South Australian paper & packaging group calls on long history of innovation to contribute to the COVID-19 response.

In what is regarded as one of the world’s best responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, Australian federal and state governments reached out to local innovators and manufacturers to help meet the drastically increased need for various items of personal protective equipment (PPE). Here in South Australia, the quest to procure sufficient quantity of surgical grade face masks led the state health department to put in a call to Detmold Group … a home-grown multinational pioneer in paper and board packaging solutions, since 1948.

But before we get into what Detmold Group is doing for Australia’s response to the pandemic, we take a step back and ask Tom Lunn, group general manager and dedicated Detmold innovator of 15 years, what the company’s core business is? Precisely what does ‘paper and board packaging solutions’ mean in everyday terms?

“Well, for a start, if you’ve held any fast food wrapping, cups or takeaway bags anywhere in the southern hemisphere, there’s a high likelihood it’s ours. For example, we’re proud to be the biggest supplier in the region for Uber Eats packing. Detmold is also highly regarded for paper carry bags used by retail outlets, with household-name brands like Witchery on board, and we have a big presence at the industrial end of the supply chain too, producing packaging for commodities such as flour and sugar.”

Established in Brompton, South Australia, as C.P. Detmold Pty Ltd by founder Colin Detmold in 1948, the Detmold Group now has locations across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, India, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Netherlands, and the USA. That’s an incredible story of growth and longevity, so we asked Tom if he could share the secret behind this staying power.     

“Last year was our 70th anniversary”, replies Tom, “a big milestone and an endorsement of the way we do things. You see, we’re still a privately owned company, with members of the Detmold family still in key positions, so the decisions we make and the directions we take are not driven by the need to deliver short-term returns to shareholders. Everything we do is about the long-term success of the company. So, there is nothing more important than fostering lasting relationships with our clients, while making sure we have very talented, happy staff who come to work every day committed to keeping us at the competitive edge of our market place. Put simply, entrepreneurial innovation and top-shelf customer service are at the core of our culture and continued success.”   

Bringing the conversation onto Detmold’s contribution in the COVID-19 response, Tom continues, “In fact, it was this ‘have a go’ attitude in all that we do which set us apart in our ability to deliver the required number of surgical masks. When SA Health asked if we could help, I don’t mind saying we were hesitant at first, but after we’d looked closely at what was involved and conducted feasibility studies, we realised that we were actually incredibly well placed to assist on a number of levels.”  

“To start with, we realised that the safety and quality standards required to make surgical masks are not dissimilar to that of our food packaging, and the two production systems have very closely aligned cultures. For example, we are well versed in safety audits, with more than 50 external audits every year, plus our cleanliness and production standards were already high enough, ticking key corporate social responsibility boxes like the origins of raw materials, traceability and disposal of wastewater.”

“And when we realised the logistical obstacles that current mask manufacturers were experiencing in scaling up, literally finding themselves unable to source extra materials or ramp up the existing supply chain, we started to feel almost like it was our responsibility to get involved. With our broad global networks and the relative ease with which we could source materials and reinvent the required supply chains, Detmold Group was perfectly placed to join the effort and make a real difference to the state’s COVID-19 response capability.”

Detmold Group sets standards in physical distancing

As an undisputed innovator with around 800 team members based in China, the original epicentre of the virus, it’s perhaps not surprising that Detmold Group also led the way in safe, progressive physical distancing procedures. Their first coronavirus response meeting was held in January, and they had all the appropriate hygiene and workforce separation policies in place, ready to implement after Chinese New Year.

Tom expands on the details, “With such a large footprint in China, we were very close to the workplace protocols their government had adopted after the outbreak in Wuhan, so we were well ahead of the curve. Hand sanitisers, temperature checks, shift separation and isolation, cross over changing rooms, hygiene high-risk areas. We had all manner of procedures in place before most manufacturers had even begun to take it seriously. Then, on seeing our ability to perform in the ‘new normal’, many businesses around the world adopted our ways of working.”

“As an established operator throughout Asia for many years, overcoming supply challenges is nothing new to us,” adds Tom, “We’ve had to adapt our trade patterns to SARS, MERS and Bird Flu in the past, but it’s true what they say, COVID-19 is indeed unprecedented, and our proven agility in dealing with unknown situations like this continues to attract big brands.”

Post-virus plans to keep innovating

It’s not just virus-driven catastrophes which inspire Detmold Group’s many innovative brains to put their thinking caps on, in fact for years the group has had its own customer-facing R&D and prototyping subsidiary, ‘Launchpad’. So, we ask Tom, what was Launchpad working on before COVID-19 came along, and what are you looking forward to focussing on after the virus is contained?

“Given the nature of our business, obviously sustainability is a key driver in all that we do, and we’re committed to making sure we stay at the forefront of eco-responsibility. We support the Ellen McArthur Foundation and the Australian Government’s ‘Towards 2025’ sustainability drive, and our ‘revolution in cups’ is tracking really well. Food delivery is also an ever-evolving space in terms of packaging, it’s always been a strong focus for us but, as you can imagine, the need for enhanced safety, efficiency and volume has just exploded.”

“Above all else”, concludes Tom, “Launchpad and the Detmold Group as a whole is about answering our customers’ questions, solving specific problems through first-class innovation, taking the time to gain an intimate understanding of their challenges, delivering value beyond cost and priceless insight which helps ensure comprehensively safe and successful operations.”

DW Fox Tucker is proud to have counted Detmold Group as a valued client for many years. We’re really looking forward to seeing what ideas and innovations they come up with in the future, as they continue to meet the needs of their customers in challenging, ever-evolving marketplaces.

To contact Detmold Group:
Phone – (08) 8348 3200
Visit – https://www.detmoldgroup.com

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