New hope for Drypac workers with Elite Pack expansion
 Baw Baw News   By // 19:28, Friday 24 May 2013

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AROUND twenty former Drypac employees will start work with Drouin packaging manufacturer Elite Pack after it secured State Government backing for an expansion project.

Pictured: Elite Pack workers who will soon be joined by former Drypac workers in the expansion.
Pictures by William PJ Kulich.

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The Victorian Government has provided $250,000 toward the $1.1 million expansion, which will see the manufacturer’s floor space increase by 5,280 square metres and allow the company to take on the equivalent of ten new full-time positions.

Elite Pack Director Wayne Portelli told The Warragul Citizen the company is now looking at major increases in production.


“We’ve got to invest our own money as well, but it (the funding) will enable us to grow,” Mr Portelli said.

“We’ll make rolled-edge trays, which we’re currently doing at the moment, but we’ll get into serious production.

“At the moment we’re going into light production, but later on we’ll be going into heavier production, maybe 24 hours a day.”

Mr Portelli, who was previously a founding Director of Drypac, said the closure of that packaging manufacturer was devastating.

“We had 150 people working there (at Drypac) at one stage and I think they’re closing with 120 people, Mr Portelli said.

“They’re all my employees, I’m devastated by it.

“All the employees have come from Drypac, or ex-employees of Drypac, we’ll pick up about 20 people in total.”

When asked where he saw growth in the industry, Mr Portelli said production costs were lower but competition stiffer.


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Pictured: (from left) Narracan MP Gary Blackwood, Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan and Mr Portelli.

“With our new machinery we can make a tray for about two to three cents cheaper than Drypac can, but that’s only part of it,” Mr Portelli said.

“We’ve got competition from China now, we’ve got competition from a number of sources.

“When I made the trays with Drypac there was no competition.”

Mr Portelli said the company had a number of clients already lined up to take advantage of the company’s increased capacity.

The state funding, sourced from the $15 million Latrobe Valley Industry and infrastructure Fund, was officially announced this morning by Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan.

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Pictured: Mr Portelli and business partner Peita Reidy show Mr Ryan around the Elite Pack factory.

Mr Ryan told The Warragul Citizen the funding decision had not been influenced by Drypac’s closure.

“We’ve taken this on its merits… and [Mr Portelli’s] keen to undertake the expansion that he’s flagged today,” Mr Ryan said.

“He was intent on his course, we were very pleased to help him, and there’s been a coming together.

“We’re always very interested to support companies that looking to expand.

“All projects are welcome to put their hand up, it’s not a case of one project versus another.”

Mr Portelli thanked the Baw Baw Shire Council staff for their assistance in securing state funding.

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