ADVANCED SOLUTIONS FOCUSED ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Patrikios Sarantakos, Director and Co-Founder of TEOL
TEOL is a provider of packaging and palletising solutions for the industrial and warehousing facilities which matches some of the largest European equivalents. We have recently completed the construction of our “Pack Lab”, an area of 200m2 in which visitors have the opportunity of a ‘hands-on’ experience of gains of automation. We do believe that the sustainable agenda should be positioned at the first place, since it refers to the future of our planet and our company is currently in the process of becoming CO2 neutral.
The end of line (TEOL) has been active in Serbia for 16 years and it is a leading industrial packaging solutions provider. How did TEOL develop during this period? What do you consider to be the biggest challenges and success during this period?
TEOL is a provider of packaging and palletising solutions for the industrial and warehousing facilities. It is the outcome of a management buyout of Maillis Serbia – the 22nd affiliate company of the Greek multinational Maillis Group - by Patrikios Sarantakos and Predrag Zivkovic back in 2007.
From our early days, we have tried to implement innovative solutions that upgrade our customers’ processes to international best practices, increasing their cost effectiveness. To succeed on this, we had to build a global network of suppliers and expertise, which it has proved a major challenge, especially for a young company with limited resources. Today, we could dare to claim that our offering matches some of the largest European equivalents.
Apart from Serbia, TEOL operates in the countries of the former Yugoslavia and is also a member of a Pan-European association of Pack Synergy. Could you tell us more about its operation in Europe?
We have started operating outside the Serbian borders since our first days. Quite fast we established and registered two affiliate companies in Zagreb Croatia and in Sarajevo Bosnia & Herzegovina. This regional coverage has enabled transferring of knowledge between the markets and servicing regional customers.
The last five years we have also joined the Pan-European organization of Pack Synergy. This is a network of middle-sized European packaging suppliers that have joined forces to serve their customers better. This network consists of 20 companies operating in 21 countries and reaches a consolidated turnover of 400 million euros. Teol also holds one of the five positions of the network’s Managing Board.
How do you define an effective approach to clients and what would you highlight as the main advantage of the TEOL brand compared to other companies in the same industry?
We stay focused on what we know, which is ‘packaging and palletizing’. Then we try to go deep and cover any aspect of these two processes. Thus, we are dealing with material cost reduction, damage & waste elimination, manpower efficiency, productivity, capacity, health & safety, ergonomic and environmental regulation compliance. Central in all the above is the ‘automation of packaging and palletizing’ processes, in which we have built significant expertise. This is a trend that every industry can benefit from. We have recently completed the construction of our “Pack Lab”, an area of 200m2 in which visitors have the opportunity of a ‘hands-on’ experience of gains of automation.
Our customers know that with us they will run their operations according to international best practices. and be the first to grasp the benefits of innovations. They know that businesses cannot stand still.
Plastic waste is one of the biggest environmental issues we face today. What are the latest recyclable packaging trends and which ones are you implementing in your business?
The sustainability agenda is already here, and it will stay. We have gained a good understanding through discussions with our partners in markets like Germany, Scandinavia, and UK. The trend is clear and is related to the concept of “Reduce-Reuse-Replace” that we follow.
Our company, thanks to the technologically advanced plastic solutions that provides (thinner and lighter), is responsible for the reduction of hundreds of tons of plastic and CO2. We believe that the ‘reduce’ aspect of sustainability still has a large potential. We also have available products that ‘reuse’ plastic (post-consumer recycling), which means that they are made of recycled waste. Such solutions although lag in performance, can still provide a satisfactory result and meet the forthcoming ‘plastic tax’. Finally, ‘replace’ is a clear option that has boosted the demand for paper and initiated the growth of bioplastics. Although higher in cost, the use of such solutions could be financially justifiable due to consumer demand.
We do believe that the sustainable agenda should be positioned at the first place, since it refers to the future of our planet. Our company is currently in the process of becoming CO2 neutral.
What are your plans for future business development in the coming years?
We are working hard on the ‘digital transformation’ of our company, which will allow our customers to build awareness and develop an understanding of all trends in ‘packaging & palletizing’ from the screen of their PC. We are also working on solutions fitting to industry 4.0 concept that will digitize packaging. Such solutions will provide quantifiable and thus measurable benefits that will enhance data analysis and decision making.
This year the Hellenic Businesses Association of Serbia celebrates its 20th anniversary, and at the same time, TEOL marks 15 years since joining the Association. What does the Association represent for you and, as an active member of the Greek business community in Serbia, are you satisfied with its work?
Business environment can be unpredictable and complex. HBA feels like our home, where we can turn for advice and support. A place to interact with managers/entrepreneurs that face similar challenges and who are willing to share their knowledge and experience. It is also a great opportunity to see good friends from time to time.