Growing in Plymouth and around the World

CDF makes about twenty different types of flexible packaging, anything from two ounces to 300 gallons for the chemical, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and food and beverage industries. A growing product for CDF is the flexible pouch that has wide mouth straw, currently this product is popular baby food and children’s snacks as well as yogurt and some smoothies. The product is great for travel and “the family on the move,” because the pouches are reclosable and child safe.

Also very popular is the Cheertainer bag-in-box systems, a plastic liner that fits into a corrugated cardboard box, unlike solid steel the Cheertainer design is environmentally friendly and less expensive than other packaging systems.

Getting its start from making liners for steel drums, CDF has stuck to its roots, creating plastic liners ranging from 12 gallons to 55 gallons and an assortment of caps, lids, covers and strainer inserts. The idea behind the liner is to save the drum for reuse.

As a leader in intermediate bulk containers, CDF has led the way in single cube-shaped, form-fit plastic holding up to 330 gallons inside either a reinforced corrugated box that is placed on a wooden pallet or an easily collapsible plastic tote, which saves space. “We definitely go after products that are relatively difficult to manufacture,” explains CDF President Joe Sullivan, “We go after niche markets that are a little too small for big companies to go after, and too small for offshore companies to gear up for.”

CDF is going after the European market; it has launched CDF Europe based in Lugano, Switzerland which is headed by Sullivan’s sister Laura Beechwood and also acquired the majority share of Quadpak which is based in Varnamo, Sweden.

Laura Beechwood, Managing Director of CDF Europe states, “we had been preparing for this European launch for several months, CDF is the leader in the industry in the U.S., and we intend to carry over the quality and expertise into our European division.”

CDF Europe is ready to manufacture and market this line, which is a huge accomplishment for a company that got its start about forty years ago. Joseph Sullivan Sr. made his start selling additives to paint companies in the New England area. The name CDF came from colors, dispersions and finishes. Marcia Sullivan, his wife, handled the books.

The elder Sullivan saw that many of the companies having a difficult time getting rid of 55 gallon drums with paint residue in them, and he had heard of a company in California that made molded drum liners. The liner is easily removed and the drum is recovered. After selling these liners he eventually bought the company. CDF expanded into different sizes and shapes and now occupies three buildings in the Plymouth Industrial Park.

From the beginning, CDF has filled the void in customer’s needs, a practice that has continued to this day. “It’s definitely a hands on business,” explains Joe Sullivan, the second generation company president. “Because we know the business, we see a lot of opportunities. We see when existing products are not meeting customers’ needs. To fill the voids, we buy new equipment, and a lot of time we have to tailor it to our needs.”

The CDF liner carries a wide array of product, from chemical products adhesives, automobile lubricants, beverages, dairy, edible oils, ice cream, juices as well as syrups and sauces. With such a range of product it is of importance to prevent leaks. CDF1 Smart Seal Technology heats the seam to a specific temperature, time and pressure. If these specifications are not met, the machine will shut down.

“The degree of difficulty in the manufacturing is quite high,” Sullivan adds. “And it’s been a team effort. Besides equipment, you have to have really good people. And we have good people. Without good people, you’ve got nothing.”

Capeplymouthbusiness.com –  January 2012