By international group standards, AGS might be seen as a minor player, employing some 550 people across six plants worldwide and generating sales of around $90 million in 2015. But numbers have an uncanny knack of concealing the real story and that of AGS is nothing short of remarkable. Established in Boston MA by Art Mahassel in 1988, the company now has two further US production facilities in North Carolina and New Jersey, as well as one in China, Poland, a new one in the Czech Republic scheduled to open in 2017 and the modern 95,000 sq ft unit in Cork on Ireland’s south coast. What differentiates AGS from its major competitors is its attitude to packaging in general, according to Noel Finnegan, Operations Manager at Cork. “We’re not just packaging manufacturers – we’re packaging service suppliers. We take the holistic approach and provide every packaging item that our customers require.”
The commitment to a production facility in Ireland was made in 2003 to support EMC in nearby Ovens. Since then, AGS’ business with the major electronic and computer companies has gone from strength to strength. The Irish plants of Intel, Dell, Alps, Apple and many others have all generated significant business for the company over the 13 years since it opened in Cork and Mr Finnegan says there is a conscious policy to supply the pharmaceutical and medical device markets, for which its flexible production capacity and tight quality controls are essential.
Brought in eight years ago to set up AGS’ corrugated division at Cork, Mr Finnegan has established not only a well appointed production floor, but an enthusiasm amongst the workforce that is now endemic and typifies the company’s overall ethos. “We’re very creative here, with our own packaging design department and ISTA Certified Test Laboratory. By getting things right at the very beginning, we not only generate more business but achieve a very high customer satisfaction rating,” he said proudly.
As demand for more complex work grew, the company knew its capacity for straightline gluing would not support its ambitious plans for new corrugated product lines, and Mr Finnegan turned to long time industry colleague Richard Gayer, of Dublin-based Venture Finishing for friendly advice. Mr Gayer, renowned as an astute businessman and canny investor, directed AGS towards Duran Machinery on account of installing two Omega folder gluers in the space of eighteen months. “I knew that if Richard had bought a second Omega the first must be winner,” he said, prior to placing an order for an Omega Performa 165 machine, which was delivered in March 2016 and went into production three days later. “It arrived pre-assembled, so was simply a matter of plug-in and go! I’ve never known such a seamless installation at any time in my career and both training and after sales support has been first class,” he enthused.
Still new to the production capacity at AGS and hungry for work, the Performa is very much being targeted at jobs from the pharmaceutical and medical device markets, where its accuracy and flexibility as well as quick make-readies will be fully appreciated. “AGS takes a long term view of business and invests to support this concept. Installing the new folder gluer shows our commitment to these customers and while currently under utilised, it will offer huge production capacity as we develop new products,” explained Mr Finnegan.
AGS’ creativity extends into materials other than corrugated board, including solid carton, wood and foam. With its lean manufacturing base and design and testing capabilities, the company extends beyond package converting into kitting and assembly, with all products delivered by its own fleet of trucks to ensure the best logistics.
AGS is proud of its commitment to rapid response, a personalised and ongoing customer service, total quality management, and providing innovative solutions to changing market trends. “We need to ensure that we always exceed expectations and meet all international standards – and we can’t do that without continual investment. The new Omega folder gluer is part of a planned strategy that we shall continue to pursue, which will push our global turnover beyond the $90 million mark,” Mr Finnegan concluded.