Sunny Prakash, General Manager of Werit UK

Sunny Prakash was appointed as GM of the UK subsidiary of German packaging manufacturer, Werit, earlier this year. Bulk Distributor took the time to find out how Sunny is finding the position and what plans are for the UK operation.

Tell us about yourself and your day to day role?

I am a very hands on guy who likes to get stuck in to all aspects of the business, hence my day can be very varied, from production, sales, finance, procurement etc.. Typically when I am on site every morning we conduct a daily production meeting. As the general manager, it’s important for me to review the facilities last 24 hour performance including health and safety. I spend time with the sales team daily looking at current opportunities and examine our objectives for our target markets take, for example, the food industry. We are continually looking at target opportunities and spend time out to ensure we are not too far removed from customers – unless I fully understand the needs of the market I cannot shape the business in the appropriate manner.

Before I joined Werit I worked for Promens, who are a plastics manufacturing company.  As soon as I joined I was hooked on the plastic processing industry and spent over 10 years there. Whilst with Promens I managed 12 factories in 5 countries and based on the success of this I was promoted to MD of the plant where I first started my career with Promens. After the merger of RPC & Promens, I decided it was time for me to move on and after taking few months R&R time I took on my next challenge with Werit.

Unless I fully understand the needs of the market I cannot shape the business in the appropriate manner.

How have you adapted to the new market?

Coming from a plastic industry definitely put me on the front foot very quickly, but having said that I had a lot to learn quickly about Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs). The plastics industry is very close knit, where everyone seems to know each other, and this certainly helped me settle down quickly in my new role.

Could you tell us briefly about Werit UK and the parent company?

Werit is a family run business, with its head offices in Germany. Werit invested in the Irlam plant in 2002 to primarily produce IBCs and since then we have evolved to produce IBCs, canisters and to promote plastic pallets and Industrial Tanks.  The group is constantly investing in R&D and our objective here is to innovate the product portfolio to offer product niches that improve our customer’s performance.  All of our new introductions are based on customer feedback, it’s important for us to engage and listen to their requirements in order for us to perform at the highest level.

Whilst obviously Germany is the headquarters for the group they do let us make our own decisions for the UK, we operate in quite an autonomous fashion. Working with Germany is great and whilst we do have stated levels of autonomy, we recognise that they are experts in this field and have been innovating in this market place for decades. The UK team do work hand in hand with our German colleagues when it comes to product and we have a very good relationship with the stakeholders of the group.

What distinguishes Werit from other companies?

the only Intermediate Bulk Container in the world that is BRC accredited

I believe in this day and age the so-called “traditional” business values are disappearing, but we in Werit work hard to maintain the traditional techniques such as customer service, quality etc.  In Finance there is a common phrase “Cash is King”, we at Werit UK believe in “Customer is King”.  We work hard on working closely with our existing and potential clients, we spend time in understanding their business and the journey our customers are on.  We offer them be-spoke products that are best suited for their needs.

What recent developments have there been?

One of the key markets for Werit UK is the food industry and we are pleased to say we have recently completed BRC accreditation and achieved Grade A at our first attempt. As the only Intermediate Bulk Container in the world that is BRC accredited, this was an important strategic move as it underpins our commitment to the food industry. However, all our products are produced in the same way as if they were being used in the food industry, our facility has been designed to be ‘clean’ and we take pride in maintaining these levels.

With nearly 30 years since IBCs were first patented – is there still pressure to innovate?

There is a constant challenge to keep evolving and looking ahead. We are very fortunate that the stakeholders of Werit are constantly investing in new products.  We are constantly talking to our customers, analysing the market and suppliers to drive our product innovation. Indeed we have recently launched new products such as:

  • Piston Valve – Fundamentally different from a traditional butterfly valve. When the handle is turned to the off position, the piston is pulled into the body of the valve to create a strong positive seal that prevents leakage.
  • Trumpet valve – Again a leak free piston valve, it has been designed specifically for thicker liquids, it offers an 80% improvement in discharge rates.
  • New Steel-Combi Skid Pallet – An IBC base combining the hygiene and impact resistance of plastic with the weight bearing capacity of steel, now updated for safest working with pump trucks as well as fork lifts.
  • Nutriline IBC – Perfect for the food industry and manufactured from virgin food grade polymer, this range of IBCs feature leak free piston valves and tamper proof seals
  • Compact IBC (300L) – A smaller IBC for sensitive fluid processing. It offers easy tapping and best residual discharge.

What is the greatest challenge that you and your customers are currently facing?

Currently in the UK the biggest challenge we face is the weakening of Pound Sterling. Most of our raw materials are imported from Europe, and most of our customers are based in the UK, hence this a huge challenge we face on the back of the Brexit referendum. Life is always a constant challenge, no matter what industry you go to but even more so in plastic packaging.  I like to push the boundaries and create lots of challenges myself to constantly better and up our standards.  I am quite fortunate to have a very diverse Management Team and we are constantly thinking of new ideas, projects, markets, segments for our next challenges.  Having said this currently, strengthening of the pound would certainly take some pressure off me.

Where do you see Werit UK within 5 years’ time?

Werit in the UK is a hidden gem, whilst it has been doing great things in the background, not enough noise has been made about it.  We have fantastic team ethos at the plant and “a everything is possible” attitude.  We firmly believe that Werit has a fantastic journey ahead and through our focussed approach a lot more people will get to read and experience Werit in the coming years.  Our focus is to serve the Food Industry and our strategic objective is to be the industry leader in this sector. It’s also important to note that we are planning to invest more in our UK facility to ensure this strategic objective is possible.

Many thanks again for your time and all the best – I’m sure we’ll be keeping in touch to find out how your plans are progressing.

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