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Tuesday, September 11, 2012 | Benefits of a campsite and the Alpla meeting

Actually, the roadway on the campsite was not so noisy during the night. Since we are the only ones on the site the showers aren’t open and we have to make use of the facilities in the adjacent hotel. So I let the hot shower run for a full 5 minutes without worrying about how much water I’m using. We also decide to have our breakfast in the hotel. We can get Wlan there so will be able to send off the blog and the pictures. When Waldemar Schmitke takes his memory chip out of the camera in order to add Saturday’s and Sunday’s pictures to the blog, we notice that my card reader doesn’t want anything to do with this particular chip.

Although we got up early, we find that we are running behind and are pushed for time. Alpla is on our schedule. This is the largest preform manufacturer in Poland with a market share of 60%. We meet Stanislaw Biernat, the cornerstone of the PET operation. For over 20 years he has been building up the PET range at Alpla in Poland. He did in fact think about retiring the year before last when he reached 60 but the family who own the company, the Lehners, are for ever presenting him with new challenges. Their newest baby is the establishment of a recycling plant in Poland where they intend to manufacture bottle to bottle grades themselves. So he looks like having to work until he’s 64 at least.

Directly after this we find ourselves in Dabrowa Gornicza, 2 hours’ journey to the north, visiting Alpla’s direct competitor, Hanex. With a market share of 20%, the company occupies the No. 2 position. Dr. Dariusz Lizak shows us preforms with a neckfinish that is even lighter than the lightweight PCO 1881. Preforms, however, account for only 50% of his business. He is also heavily into the PET film sector. Here the margins are better and, in particular, production is more evenly spread over the year.

The time has come to start thinking about embarking on our return journey to Germany. Our planning schedules had assumed that the country roads would be in a better state. In order to get to our final meeting to the south east of Warsaw, we need to travel along country roads for something like another 1,000km. Averaging 30 to 50 km/hr, this represents a two-day undertaking. It is with a heavy heart that we cancel the meeting. We will catch up on the interview by telephone and email.