We stay for two nights at an RV "campground" in Jersey City, which turns out to basically be a parking lot with power supply. But it’s very close to Manhattan, and so commands an outrageously high fee. No matter – since May 28 is Memorial Day, no interviews and no appointments are scheduled, and we get to spend one night and one day exploring Manhattan. Yay On Memorial Day itself, it is a perfect day to be on the road towards our next stop: Canada, where we plan to stay for one week in and around Toronto. However, there’s one little thing we have to deal with first: we have to leave the Editourmobil at the US border.
First we try to park it at the Niagara Falls Airport. It turns out there are no plans flying from there today – maybe it’s because of Memorial Day, maybe just because it’s a really tiny airport. Apart from one lonesome police officer, no one is there. He tells us that no one will be working at the airport until tomorrow – so we definitely won’t get a rental car from there today. Knowing that tomorrow will be the busiest day of the tour with a visit triple at Athena, Yudo and W. Amsler, we quickly drive back to Buffalo International Airport, where we already passed by earlier. Since parking a car at any airport is not a problem, parking an RV at an international airport in the US should not be a problem at all, we figure. We see the road signs towards the long-term parking area and follow them. At the entrance of the parking lot other signs notify us that the maximum height is 11 ft. Well – the Editourmobil’s height is 12 ft. The gate certainly looks high enough, though… so we decide to try to get through. I climb onto the backside ladder to get a good view of the roof– a bit like refuse collectors do it – and Rolf drives very slowly through the gate. It works out fine – we are very happy Still: By now it is around 9 pm, we have no car yet, and we still have to drive two hours towards Toronto. Luckily, the car rental at Buffalo airport is still open – and after driving the Editourmobil for so long, the rental car feels like driving a kart, says Rolf. We cross the border without a problem – the triple-day can come
The next day we start at Athena. Mike Urquhart (Plastics, Injection Moulding & Industrial Consultant, formerly with Husky), Robert Sicilia (Business Manager, PET, at Athena) and Harold Luttmann (CEO/COO at Athena) welcome us in the new, bright and shining Athena plant. We speak about the future plans of their Niigon brand, and they guide us through their holy place: the production area. It’s very clean and very white with new machinery and lots of space for future growth. While talking and explaining the philosophy of Athena, it’s fantastic to see the vision of Robert Schad (founder of Athena) becoming reality in every stone of this building, in every idea we are listening to. Very impressive
Not far away – practically in the neighborhood of Athena – we meet Rick Unterlander (GM-process development) at the Yudo ValuePro Lab. Rick sees us arriving and invites us to come in quickly because it is nearly 34°C (93°F). He starts with a short tour in this small but fine and well equipped lab. Then, we talk about the PET plans of Yudo. Rick explains how Yudo’s hotrunner and post-mould cooling technology fit into the PET industry perfectly. Leaving Yudo and prepared with some cooled water – thank you, Rick – we crash in at W. Amsler Packaging Technology, where Heidi Amsler and Bruce Coxhead (GM) are smiling at us. They have great news to tell: They will move and will have a much bigger production area at the new plant. Bruce shows us the footprint of the plant: "There will be three more production spaces", he emphasizes. Heidi shows us around the current plant. Here we see a four-cavity all-electric SBM that comes directly from the NPE booth. One of the engineers is working to prepare this machine for shipping, because it has been sold. Lucky W. Amsler
The second day in Toronto starts with a new topic: recycling. We meet Gobi Saha, President & CEO of Kal-Polymers. He is very kind and very interested in how we got to know him. Gobi explains a lot about the recycling business in the Toronto area, mainly about post-industrial recycling. His customers are not only in Canada, they are also located in the US. Since Kal-Polymers is growing quickly, he needs new machinery – and indeed, in the conference room next to his office are some technicians of Erema taking care of a new machine.
In the afternoon we get to know a family owned business: mother, Beverly Agnew; father, Robert G. Agnew; and President and son, Sam Agnew, VP at Moldpro Machinery & Systems Inc. They have been at the NPE show with a booth in the Bottle Zone. They tell us that they had good talks and some interests in their systems from Turkey. We cross fingers that there will be a deal coming out of this Saying good luck and good bye to them, we are quiet tired after five interviews in just two days. That’s why we have planned a promising evening: We visit a good friend of the publishing house living close to the Niagara Falls. Here we are perfectly taken care of
From the South of Toronto we drive to the West to Brantford, ON to meet some other good old friends: Tar Sau (GM & VP Sales & Engineering) and Sergio Arango (Sales Manager, North America) of Wentworth Mold. When we visited them during our last North American Road show in 2015, they had been in a much smaller facility. They have moved and grown They showed us their new production- and refurbishing area. They are still working with the big beverage customers in the US and Canada – I think we can guess who these are. 😉 Business is running
From Wentworth Mold we have to drive further West to London, ON. There we have our first appointment with a filler of spirit beverages. We get to know the owner and founder of Black Fly Beverage Co, Rob Kelly. He tells us about his first idea: To start up a craft beer brewery. This evolved into craft produced spirit beverages – and there, the market has exploded The spirit drinks are made out of best quality alcohol and fruits. Rob never stops telling us new and interesting things, Rolf and me lean back and listen. After a very interesting interview, we also get the chance to see some filling equipment of Sipa and some de-palletizing system of And & Or.
A last minute appointment is thrust upon us from Germany: For tomorrow, Saturday, at 10 a.m., we have to be further in the north, close to Huron Lake, at Ice River Springs. We jump in the car and start the tour up to its northernmost point – though for Canada, this is still very much the south. After driving through some very beautiful nature, we try to find a motel. It turns out that everything is sold out, so we decide to head directly towards the lake. After enjoying a fantastic view over Huron Lake – which looks to us like an ocean – from the top of a hill ridge, we find a hotel that’s obviously equipped for skiing holidays. Behind the Hotel we see some lifts and ski slopes.
In the morning, it’s a little bit hard to wake up: With the hills and the beautiful lake surrounding us, it feels like a holiday. But Sandy Gott is waiting for us at Ice river Springs to open her doors on a Saturday morning Prepared with the photo camera we arrive on time. Sandy tells us the amazing story of their family owned closed-loop company. They recycle bottles, produce their own preforms, blow the bottles and fill them with their own spring water. They also deliver the filled bottles to their customers. In every production step they act as sustainable as possible We had been at Ice River Springs in 2015, visiting the recycling plant. This time we are in the filling and packaging plant. A big Krones filler, a lot of Husky equipment and Sidel machinery are awaiting us on the plant ground. This is a very nice example for best practice sustainable economy
With this impression in our heads we drive directly south, stopping at the Niagara Falls. On Sunday we cross the border to the US. We are excited to clap eyes on the Editourmobil and welcome our ‘home sweet home’ after a 1000 mile drive in Canada.