The Finnish Suominen family founded the innovative company in 1952. Keeping the first-born dry was what led to the founding of the company. While a student in the United States, Mr. Sami Suominen came across the idea for plastic pants that held the diaper in place and, after a few years, his wife Mrs. Marja Suominen decided to try it out. She bought some machinery and began making plastic pants in the alcove of their two-room flat. Because the entire business idea and the first raw materials used were American, it was natural at the time to call the company Amerplast. Moving from making diaper pants to manufacturing plastic rain coats led the way to other plastic products and an expansion of the company. They soon realised that plastics would be unbeatable as a packaging material and started manufacturing plastic film and flexible packaging.
The golden 60s were a time of both rapid urbanisation and industrialisation. Amerplast knew the potential of plastics and thanks to plastic packaging its product range rapidly diversified. By the end of the decade, the staff numbered just under 200 and the company had moved to production facilities in Tampere, Finland, where the headquarter of the company and two factories still exist today.
The first energy crisis was a shock to Amerplast and indeed the entire world. Regardless of the global turbulence Amerplast was doing well thanks to good ideas and innovations. Plastic carrier bags were developed further and Minigrip deep freeze bags became an item found in almost every Finnish household. In 1971 a plant in Ikaalinen, Finland was bought to specialise in the development of Minigrip bags. The company’s products was exported outside of Finland and a sales office, Nordiska Amerplast AB, was founded in Stockholm.
The 80s boom was also seen and felt at Amerplast, which expanded its production further and invested in new plants. In 1985, Sami Suominen who together with his wife had founded the company suddenly died, and their son took up the position as managing director. The era of the Suominen family company came to an end a year later, when Amerplast was listed as a stock company. A few years later, Lassila & Tikanoja bought the majority of Amerplast’s shares and a major investment program started.
Finnish industry was undergoing a rapid process of internationalisation, which was also reflected in Amerplast’s operations. The company built an up-to-date production plant in Poland which is still today considered a bridgehead in Europe, being close to important central European markets. In international trade, environmental concerns became an important competitive factor. Amerplast took up the challenge and developed environmentally sounder business strategies, including material recycling, re-use of solvents and an overall improvement of the working environment. Three clearly defined areas of core competence developed within the company: hygiene products packaging, food industry packaging and retail packaging. A good example of Amerplast’s concerted effort to integrate innovation and technical expertise was its manufacture of tamper-proof Amersafe bags for the banking, insurance and transport sectors.
At the beginning of the millennium, major changes took place in Amerplast’s corporate structure. The demerger of Lassila & Tikanoja resulted in the formation of a new company called Suominen Corporation, which comprised the business areas of Nonwovens, Flexible Packaging and Webbing Products. The former Amerplast was now known as Suominen Flexible packaging. During the 2000s production was centralised to Tampere, Grodzisk Mazowiecki and Ikaalinen.
In 2014 Suominen Corporation divested its Flexible packaging business to Lonsdale Capital Partners and the MBI team. The company returned back to its roots and changed its name back to Amerplast. A major investment program started focusing on modernising the production equipment. These investments have included an automation program in the Tampere carrier bag factory, and state of the art 10-color printing machines to Poland and Finland.
In the beginning of 2018, Amerplast opened a second production site in Poland. This is a time of increasing environmental awareness.
The environmentally sound business strategies initially developed in the 1990s were still at the heart of Amerplasts operations. The company was taking the leading position in the transformation of the flexible packaging industry into an environmentally sustainable business.
In 2021, Amerplast shareholders sold their shares in full to UK based private equity group Chiltern Capital LLP. Following the acquisition, Amerplast businesses will be combined with existing companies in their investment portfolio; Hanmere Polythene and Plasmech Packaging to form an enlarged, pan-European group. Amerplast CEO, Mark Rooney, will be the CEO of this group.
Amerplast sees this as a very positive development, providing the company with an opportunity to further enhance its product offering and to grow capacity and customer network. The company will continue with its focus on growing together with customers through innovative and sustainable flexible packaging solutions. Synergy within the new pan-European group provides companies with increased knowledge, know-how and flexibility to better serve and to meet the future needs of our customers in Europe and UK.