Interview with Walid Boustani, VP of Operations, ePac Flexible Packaging
Walid Boustani is the managing partner and VP of Operations of the Boulder and Los Angeles ePac locations. He is a mechanical engineer with an MBA from Drexel University. He has over 20 years of experience in flexible packaging, mainly in Operations ranging from start-ups, turnarounds, to expansions of existing operations. His work in the industry has taken him all over the world, including Europe, the Middle East, and Canada.
ePac LA will focus on regional food manufacturers and contract packagers throughout Southern California and the surrounding area. With a focus on small and medium size businesses, ePac is the only US company based on the latest in digital printing technology, providing brands of all sizes fast time to market, high-definition graphics, low minimum orders, and the ability to customize packaging to select target markets.
Since opening its first plant in 2016, the rapidly growing Delray Beach, Florida-based company will have fifteen locations across the US by the end of 2019, six of which are now operational. In addition, the company has announced expansion into Europe, with its first plant to open in the UK later this year as well. For more information visit ePacFlexibles.com.
Tell us about your site search – what was important to the company’s new location?
We started looking into opening a South California location about one year ago. We wanted to find a business-friendly community and within proximity to our customer base since our mission is to serve the flexible packaging needs of small and medium-sized businesses of local communities. Furthermore, we wanted access to a skilled labor workforce to recruit from. Our workforce needs ranged from machine operator, sales staff and customer service to computer technology workers.
What made San Bernardino County the right choice?
We considered three different counties: San Bernardino County CA, Riverside County CA, and Clark County, NV. The follow up by the San Bernardino Economic Development Agency was second to none. It really made our search easier and eliminated multiple hurdles. In addition, San Bernardino County checked off several items from our wish list: proximity to a large customer base, access to a skilled workforce, and as noted – very business-friendly.
Describe your experience working with the San Bernardino County economic development team:
If I had to rate the experience of working with the San Bernardino County Economic Development Team, I would give it a 5 stars rating. Our questions were acknowledged immediately and answered within 24 hours. We were referred to the right contact people and were given a half day tour of different cities in the County, where the local city officials met us, explained the permitting process and corresponding lead-time to expect. The team really made it easy for us.
What incentives and/or programs have been especially beneficial to ePac in its move to SB County?
We have benefited from the California Competes Tax Credit and we are planning on applying for training grants.
Can you describe your workforce? How does the County help you in terms of talent?
For our business to succeed, we look at a workforce that is a mix of skilled machine operators, sales staff, customer service, and computer technology workers. We expect a high sense of customer service, as the brands we serve are often SMB’s whose livelihood depends on our performance. We value our employees because our success can only be achieved if they are committed and given all the tools to succeed. The county itself has a database of candidates that they put at our disposal.
What would you tell another CEO when considering SB County?
South California, in general, offers one of the biggest markets that a business can hope for. San Bernardino County is well located within this market where business can have access to customers without overpaying for rent or labor. I find myself surrounded by large choices of candidates for every open position, diverse market segments that need my products, and encouraging officials that want my business to be within their city.
As a new resident of San Bernardino County can you share what your experience has been so far of the community.
I’m very pleased with how ePac is being received by the market. We have been selling in CA for about a year, with manufacturing being done out of our Boulder, CO plant, and our value proposition of 10 to 15 business day lead time, small order quantities with the ability to order to demand, is being well received. Our presence online, www.epacflexibles.com, has been well noticed by Southern California SMBs. I highly enjoy sharing my experience with start-ups, compare it to theirs, and listening to what they went through to get to where they are now. From a workforce perspective, so far, I am very happy with the commitment of each employee we hired and I am looking forward to continuing to grow the team. As a resident, San Bernardino County has provided my family and me with a high quality of life, access to relatively affordable housing, excellent education, and proximity to plenty of entertainment and opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. We are thrilled to call San Bernardino County our home.
About ePac Flexible Packaging
ePac Flexible Packaging is based on the premise that emerging digital technology will significantly disrupt the service and manufacturing models that have served the flex pack industry for decades. Founded in 2016, with a charter to serve small and medium size businesses throughout the United States, ePac is technology driven and built to provide our customers a fast and easy way to buy flexible packaging. Offering competitively priced short to medium run length orders, and 10-day turnaround, ePac is the first supplier in North America built entirely on the latest wide-web digital printing technology – the HP Indigo 20000. With our manufacturing platform optimized to provide industry leading customer service, ePac offers true high-definition custom printing with variable imaging and the elimination of plate fees, while enabling customers to print to demand and avoid inventory and obsolescence costs. With locations throughout the United States; our offices in Austin, Boulder, Madison, Miami, Chicago, Boston, Houston, and Los Angeles are open to serve local and regional brands of all sizes.