By Eric Peterson | Jan 23, 2019
Plastic packaging and logistics
Industry: Contract Manufacturing; Supply Chain; Industrial & Equipment
Products: Plastic packaging, printing, and logistics
It started with the logistics behind the plastic wine glass. Stotesbery co-founded GoRight PPL with his wife, Kacey. The couple had a since-sold plastic wine glass business that worked with a number of manufacturers and other vendors.
"After many years in the consumer goods market and selling different manufactured products, we looked to streamline the manufacturing process," says Stotesbery.
He describes working with "two different manufacturers in two different states, two different warehouses, two different printers. It's very burdensome."
Not to mention expensive, he adds. "Why not do all that under one roof? We can manufacture, we can print, and we can ship it anywhere."
Thus, the PPL in GoRight PPL stands for Plastics, Printing, and Logistics. After a "multimillion-dollar" investment, the company opened its 86,000-square-foot-facility in 2016 with a focus on custom extrusion blow molding containers and packaging.
"We've been manufacturing plastic products for a lot of different industries," says Stotesbery. Top customers include manufacturers of pet treats, candy and popcorn, and hardware.
GoRight offers custom solutions for consumer goods companies as well as commodity products. "That keeps the lights on," he says of the latter.
But the consumer goods market is where the company shines because of its turnkey approach that encompasses container manufacturing, printing, and fulfillment logistics. "[Clients] see the value of a one-stop shop," notes Stotesbery. "We do a lot of point-of-purchase stuff."
Orders range from 10,000 to 5 million units. "We play below the big guys," says Stotesbery. "We cater to the smaller guy who needs a half-million units and doesn't want to go through a broker."
That's a fertile market that's been on the rise for more than a decade, he adds. About half of GoRight's business is in its home state, and the other half is spread around North America. "Being a local supplier to this Colorado market is very attractive," says Stotesbery.
In their previous wine-glass business, the Stotesberys began with manufacturers in China, but they quickly realized there was strong demand for domestic product. "With a non-nestable, it's the same cost to make it here with no lead time," says Stotesbery. That dynamic catalyzed immediate and rapid growth. "We've seen a lot of demand from people wanting to return manufacturing stateside."
That's translated to GoRight manufacturing 11 million units in 2017 and 24 million units in 2018. With more than 40 customers, Stotesbery anticipates making as many as 40 million units in 2019, running four shifts "24/7."
"At this facility, we could get up to 80 million units," he says. "Luckily, we're a well-funded startup. It really comes down to opportunities right now."
The market has responded in a big way. "We went from five employees to 110 in two years and we're doubling year over year," says Stotesbery. "Looking through 2019, we might grow to 150 [employees]." GoRight will also grow through acquisitions, he adds.
"It's been an incredible journey," says Stotesbery. "The growth trajectory has been unbelievable, and it doesn't slow down." Demand "is something I've never seen before," he adds. "Being in sales, you're out selling stuff. In this business, people are coming in the door."
New for 2019: The Perfect Pint, a line of plastic drinkware with room for a "Healthy Head." A BPA-free, dishwasher-safe 20-ounce tapered plastic glass allows for a pint of beer with plenty of froth, and a beer can-shaped 16-ouncer is "a very hot item in glassware right now," says Stotesbery. "There's not a good plastic option out there." Sales are direct and through big-box stores.
He said launching a brand was a no-brainer as a manufacturer. "Your costs are so low, you can control the market," says Stotesbery. "You can protect the low side and protect the high side."
Challenges: "The big challenge really is metering the growth so you don't upset the customers," says Stotesbery. "You can't say yes to everybody."
Onboarding new customers can be a time-consuming process and often takes three to nine months to start production, after mold-making, qualifications, and other logistical issues. For customers with molds that are ready to go, lead times are just three weeks.
"I would say that we're not quite where we want to be yet," says Stotesbery. "For a startup, we've done pretty well."
Opportunities: "The ultimate goal is to increase the consumer goods side of the business," says Stotesbery. That means the company is always on the lookout for customers who want to consolidate plastic manufacturing with printing and fulfillment. "That's where we get the biggest bang for the buck and our customers get the most value."
Needs: Unskilled labor is a stubborn GoRight need, and turnover is high. "You have lots of competition for those kinds of jobs," says Stotesbery. "The competition for unskilled is really fierce right now."
A partner with injection molding capabilities is another big need. "Doing consumer goods, there's usually multiple components to an item," he notes. "We don't make lids. That's injection molding."
"We need to look for a partner with injection molding capabilities or opening a new part of our business on the injection molding side of things," he adds. "We'll probably start with a partner and see how complicated it is."
In the longer term, he says he could see building a larger facility in as soon as three years in response to demand.