Most consumers may not know what ViskoTeepak does, but whenever they bite into a bratwurst, grill a frankfurter or cut into a roll of salami or pepperoni, they’ve introduced themselves to a product made in Kenosha.
Whatever the brand name on the package, most likely the outside package or coating on a meat product was made here.
Tucked away on a quiet street just off Sheridan Road, Viskoteepak, 1126 88th Place, an affiliate of a Helsinki, Finland-based company, is a global leader in its industry.
The company has 115 employees, including machine operators, engineers, designers, marketers, information technology specialists, printing press operators and salespeople. The plant produces some 70,000 feet of casings per shift.
While ViskoTeepak is a business-to-business marketer, food safety for consumers and cost savings its customers are company goals.
As a producer of fibrous, cellulose, collagen-based and plastic coatings for the food industry, one of the company’s missions is to produce “tailor-made products and form partnerships with customers,” said Tim Buckson, the plant manager and director of operations. “We are customer focused.”
Whether it is Hormel, Tyson, Johnsonville, Bar S or some other customers, ViskoTeepak is set to meet their needs.
“Every customer has a different specification. Our production is customer driven,” Buckson said.
The Kenosha facility makes products that are exported to Mexico, Jamaica, Canada and to some European locations. Last year, the company realized a 20 percent increase in volume. However, 99 percent of the company’s sales are in the U.S.
“We’re still building our market,” said Buckson. “We’re trying to find a niche to get our foot into the door.”
Quicker production and defect-free casings are a must.
“If we fail to produce a quality product, it affects the product that our customers have. Our customers use us because they know they can depend on what we make,” Buckson said.
In that endeavor, company officials and engineers look to design more efficient equipment and processes to improve their product.
When customers want to introduce new products or offer different varieties of a current product, ViskoTeepak will design the casing to ensure the food safety.
Emphasis on people
Moreover, while product improvement is a constant endeavor, human resources are important too.
Shari Villani, the company’s director of human resources, said getting people on board with the company mission and goals is important. Therefore, the company strives to create a friendly, family-like atmosphere.
“People make the difference,” she said.
Her message to employees: “You can make a career here.”
As a company, “We’re very goal-driven,” said chief financial officer Paul Schulz.
Throughout the company — from marketing, customer service and information technology to the production floor — there are incentive goals, laid out on graphs displayed on the walls.
The graphics are thematic to the departments. One set of graphics outside the human resource office reads: Respect, Trust, Ambition, Fun.
“The graphics started in Kenosha,” said Schulz.
He said the idea coincided with the goals set by officials in Helsinki, who liked the idea of posting them in the various departments.