By Graziella DiNuzzo
Ever wonder how the piece of paper you find in between beef patties gets there? Most probably not. At one time, human hands painstakingly placed the paper, one at a time, to separate each patty in an assembly line, until engineer Lawrence Ward had an idea that would revolutionize the meat industry. In 1989, Ward invented the Arc’Tronic Hole Perforator - Packaging Progressions Inc. was born.
Dante Pietrinferni was working as a Production Manager at Mechtronics Industries, a machine building company, when Mr. Ward discovered him and offered him a job. It was 1992 and with only six employees, Pacproinc® was designing and manufacturing automatic, high-speed interleavers and stackers, eventually obtaining a patent for their “Inline Foldover” method in 1995.
Pietrinferni became President of Packaging Progressions in 2011.
“Our machines operate at the highest speeds, we have superior customer service and the most industry expertise. We were first to market and consider ourselves number one in the world,” smiles Pietrinferni.
Applications for Pacproinc® began with philly steaks and now include bacon, cheese, cookie dough, puff pastry, empanadas and tortillas, pasta sheets, burger patties, flatbreads and pizza bases, and sliced deli meats.
“We are able to take our core technology and adapt it to many products.”
Popular brands packaged on Pacproinc® machines include Domino Pizza, Subway, and McDonald’s.
“As we grew we were able to develop other packaging solutions within the food industry.”
Today, Pacproinc® has expanded its line of hole perforators, interleavers and stackers to include custom and standard conveyors, value-added services, and a full range of interleaving materials.
“Our biggest domestic sellers are bacon and burger packaging machines.”
Pacproinc® began exporting in the mid nineties, but not without some challenges and lessons learned.
In July 2019, Pacproinc® was acquired by Middleby Corporation, a global leader in the foodservice industry.
“The benefit that excites us the most is being able to leverage Middleby’s international assets to help us sell our products all over the world. Our biggest challenge to selling internationally was our lack of service and sales support within a territory. International customers were reluctant to buy from a company that did not have a local presence and provided support from the U.S.”
In 2019, Pacproinc® sold their machines into Canada, Malaysia, Peru and the U.K.
“We have sold parts, materials and machines to Australia, Thailand, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Canada, Peru, Mexico and the U.K. “
Pietrinferni recalls a meeting organized by WTCGP and the Korean PA Authorized Trade Representative, “We were meeting with a South Korean company, in a Greek restaurant in Germany. The South Koreans seemed angry. By learning some cultural awareness from our WTCGP contact, we understood that was just their communication style.”
As the food industry grows to changing consumer demands, Pietrinferni understands that Pacproinc® will need to adapt.
“We have a lot of discussion about using paper versus plastic, and are looking for more sustainable methods. Some clients require a heavier wax coating on the paper. We are always working on different formulations.”
During a tour of the plant, Mr. Pietrinferni demonstrated a robotic arm that the engineers are looking to integrate with their machines.
“We have developed new designs that work with our core technologies and created about 8 to 10 patents over the years.”
Today, Packaging Progressions (Pacproinc®) has 65 employees and during the last three years have consistently recorded 15% growth each year.
The future looks bright for Packaging Progressions.
“We not only provide a safe and sanitary solution to packaging fresh and frozen food, we also have superior 24/7 customer service. No one else can do what we do.”