Class Plastics CEO Daniel Carapelloti recently appeared as a guest on Talking Wyndham, where he shared his journey into becoming Class Plastics’ CEO, and how Class Plastics has grown to become one of the largest global manufacturers of rigid plastic containers in Australia.
Hosted by Kevin Hillier, the Talking Wyndham Podcast provides weekly insights about the people and businesses that make Wyndham a vibrant and great community.
Listen to the podcast to find out more.
Here are some highlights from Daniel’s interview:
Tell us something about your background?
When I graduated from college, I sent about 50 applications to different firms and thought I would work for one of the biggest firms, but none of them called me until I landed a job at Class Plastics. I thought to myself it’s going to be just for a brief stint. I didn’t really have any idea of what I wanted to do back then, but here I am now 20 years later, and I’m loving every moment of it.
Working with Class Plastics just gave me a lot of insights. I learned a lot about running a business. I just fell in love with it to the point that I was acting like I owned the business, which is exactly what an employer wants his employees to do. You need to think like how the owner does and act as the owner does.
I have an accounting background. And so, my first job was in the finance area, sorting that out, and helping the company in transitioning from manual to automated systems. After a couple of years, I started working in sales and spent a bit of time in that department, as well as in the operations.
Not all people with an accounting background have that flare. Where did it come from?
I have a really good mentor, Tony Jordan. He’s one of the directors but is retired now. He took me under his wing and told me that I got the skills in that area but it’s not going to do a lot for the business to grow. He said he wanted to use my skills but for another area of the business, which is to help with business planning and strategy.
It was a very big step out of my comfort zone, and I was very young at that time. I was in my early twenties. I wasn’t really thinking about work. I was thinking more about just enjoying life. I had to step up and be more mature and represent the company in the best way I could.
As I look back now, it seems that they trained us to take over the business without me and Mario knowing. We didn’t know what they were planning. They planted that seed in myself and Mario to see if we were capable of taking over the company.
When did you and Mario start to assume those roles?
I think around the early 2000’s. I came into Class Plastics in 1998, and Mario came about a few years later. Class Plastics was already a national company then, but we only manufactured in Victoria until we decided to set up another manufacturing site in Queensland.
That’s when we stood up to the plate because the owners had to go out most of the time. And so, it was up to me and Mario to take the reigns of the company. Mario was more on the operations and manufacturing side of things whilst I was in the admin, marketing, and finance area. We had all bases covered.
Tell us about Class Plastics and what it does?
Class Plastics is a company that blow moulds plastic containers for liquid packaging. We make containers from 1 litre to 25 litres in sizes. Anything outside of that, we can outsource.
We’re an international company now, and we recently developed some new lines of products to suit our customers’ needs. Our two major clients are from New Zealand and China, and just recently we also sent some products to Bangkok. We owe it all to the sales staff and our National Sales Manager.
It started out with a trip to New Zealand a couple of years ago. We made a few appointments and we went around to a few customers. We realised that there is an opportunity for us to promote our products there due to the lack of supply and demand. We filled in the gaps.
We do not only supply products but also provide the service. It is that personal touch. That’s been the ethos of our business. That’s how we’ve grown.
How has the Wyndham City Council helped you in promoting your business to the community? What has been its role?
The Wyndham City Council has been fantastic. They’ve taken us on board and have been really supportive of us.
They’ve helped us in a lot of ways. They created networking opportunities for us. Most of all, they played a very crucial role when we installed our solar power. Through Wyndham City’s EUA (Environmental Upgrade Agreement) initiative, we were able to fund our solar power installation. It was fantastic.
What’s the future for you and Class Plastics?
We’re expanding our footprint in Australia. We have our distribution centres in Queensland, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Sydney. We’re also looking at the potential of turning our distribution warehouse in Sydney into a manufacturing site as well, considering the increase in freight and logistics.
I’m off to China next month for another program, which is another initiative of the Wyndham City Council through the Victoria Chamber of Commerce. It’s going to be about immersion tools in China, and of course, it’s another great networking opportunity to meet similar businesses.
How does Class Plastic address the environmental impact of being in the plastic industry?
We find ways to minimise our carbon footprint wherever we can. Whilst moulding plastics is 100% what our business is about, we offset it with sustainable practices. Obviously, in the future, we may be able to reuse and recycle plastic in our process. At the moment that still seems a bit impractical but that’s the way forward.
What’s the role of Class Plastics in job creation in Wyndham?
We do have a few employees who are in Wyndham and we want to get more in. Probably about 80% of our staff already moved to our Truganina site, and so we’re looking at hiring some Wyndham locals.
We want to particularly attract younger generations since there’s really not many qualifications for the jobs we have. We’re looking at perhaps sponsoring a program with the city council to provide training and qualification for people about things like hydraulics, electronics, air machines, and the likes.