By Mike Vieira | Sep 12, 2018
La Mirada, California
Plastic bags, films, pouches, and other packaging
La Mirada, California
Industry: Supply Chain
Products: Plastic bags, films, pouches, and other packaging
After 20 years in the aerospace industry in design and engineering, Manak came across JCS Industries and utilized his knowledge to expand the company's offerings as he rebranded it as RDM. "I found this business that was closing down, and basically bought the building," he says. "We became a converter of plastic films, specializing in all different types of film."
Manak revived the business and grew it by supplying plastics and packaging to such industries as medical, food, automotive, agricultural, military, and electronics.
In 2015, Manak decided to expand into extrusion, a move that required lower-cost manufacturing. "I found this plant in Mexico that had been there for 30 years," he says, "But the owner had passed away and they were running it into the ground. They had this huge facility on five acres with 70,000 square feet, so I took a look at it. It was a huge risk that took me two years to get up to spec, and now we're extruding all our polyethylene films there. . . . We're doing all of extrusion, printing, and bagging in Mexico. Here in La Mirada, we're doing all the converting of plastics, cold lamination, and now paper. You could actually separate them as two different companies, because there's no overlap."
RDM's broad range of materials and customers means a constantly shifting dynamic of production. Because of the special demands and needs of various types of customers, Manak says the company must maintain cutting-edge knowledge of what materials and processes will meet the strict requirements for different industries.
The majority of RDM's customers are in California. The food industry is becoming the dominant market for the company's Mexico facility, as most of the sales for the La Mirada plant come via direct customer relations. "I don't have a sales force," says Manak. "It's just me selling out there. Everything we do in La Mirada is kind of specialized, and we're selling to the OEMs. There are so many different type of polyesters, and applications that there's a very high level of technical knowledge required there to know what film you can give to somebody that will fit their specific needs."
Most of RDM's manufacturing is automated, but the workers need varied skill sets. Manak says that it is currently difficult to find people to fill the ranks for his facilities on both sides of the border. "We use temporary agencies and try people out, rather than hire them direct. It's a safer option for us."
Although manufacturing is in both the U.S. and Mexico, Manak says all of the raw materials are sourced in the U.S. "Everything I sell is made in the U.S.A.," says Manak. "Even for our facility in Tecate, Mexico, we send our raw materials from La Mirada, California, to Mexico, and they use it there. They send us back the finished goods. Even the equipment in Mexico is owned by RDM, so over there we're really utilizing only labor."
That understanding and experience, along with wide ranging capabilities, is exactly what seems to give RDM an advantage over its competitors. "That helps attract customers to us, and we get referrals as a result of that," he says.
Challenges: "I think the biggest challenge is the compliance to the different bodies and standards," says Manak. "We have to prove that we don't need certain aspects of a standard for our business, even though our customer might need it for theirs. The other big challenge is in expansion. If you want to expand here in California, you're restricted, especially when it comes to manufacturing. The government just wants this to be a distribution state, and not a manufacturing state."
Manak says having two facilities can be a strain at times. "Being a small business, especially with the undertaking of the Tecate, Mexico, plant, cash flow is obviously an issue," he says. "I've had to buy more equipment, update equipment, and I had to get that plant up to spec so that we could compete. There's a lot of capital expenditure that's gone into that in the last couple of years, and it's made things tight. In the next 12 to 18 months, we'll come out of that, however."
Opportunities: "We're looking to branch into more specialty products, and more diversification of our capabilities will produce a healthy environment for further growth," says Manak. "By getting into areas that others might not have knowledge of, or that are cost-prohibitive, we'll have the advantage."
Needs: Manak says that RDM constantly needs to continue to meet changing regulations for both California and Mexico, while continuing to provide high-quality products and service.