00:00:00 Sara Januszewski
All right, so hello and welcome everyone to the 10th episode of the Flexible Packaging Round Table. Today I’m speaking with Tony Butler, Sales Manager at Walex, about their company and seeking to learn more about their flexible packaging offerings and understand why flexible packaging was the right choice for their products. And I am your host, Sara Januszewski. So, welcome Tony, I wanted to start by saying you are our first guest in 2022 so it is so wonderful to have you on our podcast and I really appreciate you being here.
00:00:42 Tony Butler
Oh, thank you. I’m glad to be here.
00:00:44 Sara Januszewski
Of course, so are you ready to hop right on in? So, to start can you just tell our viewers and listeners more about Walex and what your role is?
00:00:56 Tony Butler
Yeah, sure, so Walex Products Company is a company based just outside of Wilmington, NC. Beautiful southeastern North Carolina coastal town. But we are an odor control and sanitation company, and we make certain products for various industries. We started in the portable toilet industry. The father and son combo, Bob and Bill Williams, thought of a new product to bring to the portable toilet sanitation market and they were the first to introduce the portion control packets that you drop into holding tanks, so that way you can deodorize them. Most people that have been to concerts or events or construction sites often use a portable toilet. So, our products are one of the most popular products that you would drop into those portable toilets to help them smell better when you’re using the facility. It’s not a very glamorous job, but it certainly is a job security because we know it’s not going anywhere. So, there’s always going to be a need for it but they started the company in 1987 and grew it from a small business to a global entity. So, we would distribute our products to dozens of countries worldwide and right now it’s the leader of odor control and sanitation in various industries. And my particular position is the sales manager for the RV and Marine division and since the pandemic, you could probably have seen many more RV’s or boats out on either the road or the waterways just for people trying to get outside. And so, any of those RV’s and boats that have toilets often have holding tanks that have-to-have deodorizers. And so, we’ve seen our business grow exponentially since the pandemic. We’re one of the companies to benefit from the pandemic. You know, more so than some of the other companies like restaurants and stuff that suffered.
00:02:56 Sara Januszewski
Right and next here, from your perspective as a brand why is flexible packaging the right choice for Walex?
00:03:06 Tony Butler
You know, I guess it goes back to trying to do the right thing. We are offering a consumable product and we knew that before the option of flexible packaging or recyclable ready packaging, there was really no alternative. You used the product and whatever it was packaged in goes into the trash can and then often to the landfill and you know, there weren’t many options to change that based on the way we manufacture our product, and the way retailers want the products packaged. So, when it when Glenroy was able to supply us with that option, we certainly jumped on it and we are all avid outdoor people, we surf, we love to get on our boats and enjoy the waterways. We love to go to the mountains and enjoy hikes. So, we are avid environmentalists to some degree. So, it was important for us to be able to offer something to the consumer, at least give them an option. So now they have the option to take it to a store drop-off location and recycle it with plastic bags that they may get from the grocery store, it was just the right thing to do. And we’re very, very happy with the products that we’ve started using the flexible packaging with, and we look forward to using many more of our products in the next few years.
00:04:30 Sara Januszewski
Great to hear! Touching on just one of your products. Why is it important to have the Bio-Active Septic Tank Treatment in a recyclable pouch?
00:04:44 Tony Butler
Yeah, so that seemed like the most logical product that we make, so you know there’s millions and millions of homes throughout the country that are in rural areas that are on septic systems and so you know, going back to my comment earlier, we just wanted to give the consumer an option. If they’re going to the grocery store and they’re using plastic bags just like we do, often we forget our reusable bags, we’ll still use the plastic bags, but we haven’t been at home and we throw the plastic bags in and then whenever it fills up, we’ll take it back to the grocery store and drop it off. So why wouldn’t we offer that to the consumer? The homeowner now has an option to do something that will help the environment, so that was a no brainer for us to start with that particular product, and it’s been very well received. I mean people, even we reintroduced Bio-Active Septic into the RV and Marine market just as an add-on sell for dealerships to have for consumers, but now they can buy their septic tank treatment right beside our RV and Marine holding tank treatments. So, it was a win-win for homeowners and RV and Marine dealers that sell products of ours as just a bonus buy. It’s been a very good move and we look forward to adding more products down the line.
00:06:10 Sara Januszewski
Great and just adding to what you said there. What value does the How2Recycle store drop-off program provide not only just Walex and your customers, but what benefit do you think it could provide other brands across other industries?
00:06:28 Tony Butler
Yeah, well it’s hard to keep up with what you can and cannot recycle. Is it a 1, is a 2 is a 3 or 4 or 7? Is that recycling facility take it? Well, the How2Recycle program takes the guesswork out of it and makes it a little bit easier for the consumer to get online, research the product, and where the nearest recyclable or store drop-off location for our products is located. It’s a really easy process. You just log on, you put in your ZIP code, and you get all these places where you can take the bag to drop-off. I think anything that we can do, or any program that we can be a part of to minimize the confusion and make it very accessible for our consumers to know where to recycle, you know, why wouldn’t we do it? It’s a win-win for everyone.
00:07:30 Sara Januszewski
And building off that, can you speak to the overall evolution of Walex and what you see coming forward in the future?
00:07:39 Tony Butler
Yeah, again we are very happy with flexible packaging and the recyclable products and currently we have our Bio-Active Septic Tank Treatment. We recently received our first RV product, which is our Commando Black Holding Tank Cleaner, and the stores will soon see the new recyclable packaging with Commando, which we’re very excited about. Now moving forward, probably in mid to late summer, we’re going to move another one of our products, hopefully into that recyclable packaging, which is Elemonate which is a Grey Water Holding Tank Freshener and Cleaner. Then gradually as we continue to move these new products in, we’re going to have every one of our products in a recycle-ready package. So, I think within a year maybe two at best, every one of our holding tank products that are in a consumable package will be in flexible packaging, and I think that’s very exciting for us. Just as a brand to know that we are doing everything we can to minimize our impact negatively on the environment and do the right thing.
00:08:52 Sara Januszewski
Definitely yeah, it’s exciting to hear how you started with just the one product and how you’re gradually, going through each one and changing over to that recyclable format, that’s awesome.
00:09:04 Tony Butler
Yeah, and it’s good, you know, just to also test the packaging with the consumer and see how it does and how they look on the shelf. We’re taking little baby steps, but I think overall it’s going to be a huge leap for our industry. And I’m glad that we are on the forefront of that, just like Glenroy is, you know, it feels good to know that you’re doing something early and better. I think it’s a very positive thing.
00:09:34 Sara Januszewski
Wonderful and to wrap things up here, is there anything else that you would like to add?
00:09:41 Tony Butler
No, I’m just happy to have the conversation. I think that’s something you know, my wife is in the environmental field for our local municipality, so you know anything that we can do to make a difference and have less of a negative impact, I’m happy to talk about and have conversations about. So, it just feels right, it feels good and we’re glad to be partners with Glenroy.
00:10:07 Sara Januszewski
Awesome and just to conclude things here again, I just want to thank you Tony for joining us today. It was great to learn more about Walex and your flexible packaging offerings. So again, just thank you and it was a pleasure having you on.
00:10:22 Tony Butler
Thank you, it’s been great.