THE HISTORY OF IRWIN PACKAGING
Irwin Packaging Pty Ltd (IP) is the rebranded vehicle that was Irwin & Sheehan (I&S), a company created in Sydney, Australia in 1934 by visionary and risk taker Jack Irwin. Jack was the food can-maker at Richard Hughes & Company a company which today is known as Visy. Jack was later joined by John Sheehan who managed the financial side of the business.
I&S began its life in humble surroundings in rented premises in Elizabeth street before moving to more substantial operations in Waterloo a site occupied until 2014.
I&S built its reputation in the steel canmaking industry by guaranteeing its customers quality and delivery certainty. In order to grow the business the two Jacks borrowed heavily and equipped the plant with the best equipment available at the time. Jack Irwin being a very handy golfer forged many a friendship and business deal on the 18th hole followed by many a session in the clubhouse. That’s how things were done in those days.
It is a fact that many of these business relationships are as strong today as they were back in the 30’s.
I&S is a fourth generation wholly owned Australian company. This is an amazing milestone, one that very few family companies can lay claim. Founder Jack handed the reigns to son Keith who in turn handed over to son John in the mid 1980’s.
John has been the catalyst behind the growth of the company since his entry in 1979. John oversaw the modernisation of manufacturing and computerised the administration side of the business.
Market share increased as a result of hard earned reputation for quality and service backed by the fact that customers knew that their requirements would be addressed by decision makers.
The purchase by I&S of the General Line can making business of AMCOR saw the introduction of the full range of food can diameters in the late 80’s. The diversification into food was a shot in the arm for the business and was the principal reason the company entered into composite can making in 2005. The cost of tinplate rocketed in 2004 which threatened the company’s growing steel food business. Composite cans were an ideal lower cost substitute for steel cans so a decision was made to quietly establish a composite can operation at Waterloo. I&S soon established a reputation for quality in this field and successfully converted most steel food customers across to composite. I&S grew the composite can market and is now a major player in that field.
2009 saw the company venture into plastics with the purchase of equipment that provided capacity in LDPE, PP, HDPE and PET. The company produces all its over cap requirements and is servicing its existing food and chemical companies with their plastic requirements. Pharmaceutical products are a growing sector for the company especially as its plastics division has achieved ISO13485, HACCP, CE Directive 93/42/ECC for medical devices as well as ISO 9001-2008 certification.
The most dramatic change for the company came in late 2014 when it was decided to sell the Waterloo site exit steel can making and move to new premises in Moorebank. John purchased the business from the Sheehan family and rebranded as Irwin Packaging (IP).
It was a tough decision to exit steel canmaking but one that was vital in order to make the move to Moorebank a success.
John and son James (fourth generation) are excited to be at the new Moorebank site and look forward to servicing IP’s customers over many years to come.