Ontario agricultural silage film producer looks to conquer European market with new five-layer line
“Even in a downturn, cows still have to eat, they still have to milk the cows,” says Kevin McCaughen, plant manager for Sigma Stretch Film of Canada’s operation in Belleville, ON. This simple wisdom goes a long way toward explaining why the company has continued to do well in a tough economy. In addition to its industrial pallet wrap products, Sigma’s Belleville plant makes agricultural silage film for the entire North American market. The company has done well with the product: its market share in Canada alone is approximately 30 per cent, according to McCaughen. Now, Sigma is expanding into the international market, especially Europe, with the aid of a new five-layer blown film extrusion line from Gloucester Engineering, Gloucester, MA.
Since opening in 2000, the story of Sigma’s Belleville plant has been one of continuous growth and success, much like the city of Belleville itself. A two-hour drive east from Toronto on Highway 401, the town of approximately 50,000 people has a sizable and varied manufacturing base. The troubles that have swept through the sector in the last two years have largely bypassed Belleville, which hosts businesses ranging from sheet metal fabrication and metalworking companies to a Proctor and Gamble plant. Food giant Kellog’s opened a plant in 2007 and as this issue was going to press, the mayor of Belleville was building buzz for an announcement from an unnamed company planning to build a new plant that would create another 60 manufacturing jobs.
Among these varied manufacturers, Belleville is also a small hub for plastic film production. Just down the street from the Sigma plant is a Berry Plastics stretch film plant and an ExxonMobil Chemical Films plant that makes oriented polypropylene film for packaging.
When asked why Belleville is doing so well compared to some other manufacturing centres in Ontario, McCaughen states that the varied base of manufacturers combined with the city’s location gives Belleville, and Sigma, a unique advantage.
“A lot of our market is Toronto and Montreal. This is very central. I can throw a stone and hit the rail yard, so it’s convenient for bringing in our raw materials. We brought in close to 50,000,000 lb of raw material all in rail cars last year. And as far as freight goes, for me to ship to Toronto or Montreal, it’s very economical.”