THE RACHMANIS BEAT
Byline: Pete Born
NEW YORK — His shoulders were slightly hunched over the keyboard. His head began to sway as the words to “Rocket Man” reverberated across the room with a French ring.
This was no lounge lizard pounding out a nightly living along the New Jersey Turnpike. This was the recently appointed chairman of Techpack America Inc., otherwise known as Daniel Rachmanis, a man of versatile tastes.
Born in Buenos Aires, raised in Barcelona and schooled in Paris, Rachmanis met his wife, Christina, an Italian national, in Sao Paulo. Their 10-year-old daughter, Camila, considers herself a Brazilian, and their four-year-old, Chiara, is an American born in New York.
“We speak Portuguese at home because it’s easier for the girls,” Rachmanis noted.
Fluency is no problem for him. Although he never learned to read music, Rachmanis began tinkering with the piano when he was 12, about the time his family was making the move from Buenos Aires to Barcelona.
What he did learn stuck. He has an impressive repertoire of songs from Elton John and the Beatles. Whenever the industry gathers — whether it be a CTFA meeting or the WWD CEO Summit — one thing is for sure: There’ll be a night when the U.S. chairman of Techpack finds whatever piano is available and a crowd is sure to form.
Sometimes, someone like industry consultant Sue Phillips helps out on vocals, as she did during a CEO Summit in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. But more likely, Rachmanis will be playing until 3 a.m. as industry executives hang around the piano, many of them drinking Kamikazes and a few dancing in the background.
Now he hopes to apply the same touch to his new job. Rachmanis joined Techpack on Feb. 1, with the goal of expanding its U.S. business.
He has already had some practice at that particular chore. Rachmanis arrived in the U.S. five years ago as the president of SDG Glass Inc., the American subsidiary of the Paris-based Saint Gobain Desjonqueres, which bills itself as the world’s largest producer of fragrance bottles.
SDG had been doing a considerable business in the U.S., but with the addition of a new furnace in Georgia, the company had managed to double sales in the last five years.
Rachmanis, now 38, had worked for SDG since leaving college. He had started in the Sao Paulo office, where he worked for five years, then had transferred to France.
His new company is owned by Techpack International, whose parent is the Paris-based Pechiney, which boasts the world’s largest production of aluminum packaging.
Globally, Techpack does approximately $400 million in volume, with more than one-third of it done in the U.S.
Techpack’s subsidiary list, which includes three U.S. firms, LIR-USA, Henlopen and Cosmetech Mably International, has its hands in five major areas of the packaging business: fragrance, makeup, skin care, hair care and promotional items.
And under Rachmanis’s guidance, Techpack America is currently in the process of reorganizing its headquarters staff into Manhattan.
Until now, there have been separate sales staffs for its two divisions, the one making perfumery caps and the another lipstick packaging. And staffers were located in factories in Yaphank and Melville, N.Y., located on Long Island. Techpack America also has factories in Watertown, Conn., and Mexico City.
Now there will be one Techpack sales force located in Manhattan. That consolidated field force will also sell for Techpack’s subsidiaries in Europe, such as Laffon, Decoplast and MP Packaging.
During the recent Cosmoprof trade fair in Bologna, Italy, Rachmanis briefly described his overall strategy.
Techpack is strong in the U.S. in terms of packaging for compacts, and Rachmanis said one of his goals is to beef up the American business in the very categories where Techpack has strength in Europe — perfumery caps and lipstick packaging.
He added that the company is on the prowl for U.S. acquisitions, which would complement those strengths.
Holding a meeting nearby in Techpack’s sprawling stand at Cosmoprof was Rachmanis’s boss, Jean-Luc Allavena, who was named chairman and chief executive officer of Techpack International.
Last year, Allavena had succeeded Alain Chevassus, who was also in attendance.
During an interview last year, Chevassus said that, globally, Techpack will concentrate on developing the company’s packaging sector and developing the synergies of the Chevilly-La Rue, France-based company’s 35 manufacturing and sales subsidiaries. Techpack has facilities in the U.S., France, the U.K., Italy, Spain, Germany, India, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela.
Rachmanis has set his sights on increasing volume by 20 percent annually for the next five years, meaning that his ultimate plan is to double the size of the business. Rachmanis sees growth coming both from existing business and through acquisition.
That wish is echoed by Allavena, who observed, “We’re the leader of the packaging industry right now, with 12 percent of the business, and within five years, we’d like to have at least 20 percent of that business.”
The company is also strengthening its presence in Latin America and recently created TPI Mexicana and TPI Plastimec in Argentina, purchased Novolit in Brazil and transferred Techpack Latin America to Sao Paulo.
“We’re continuing to restructure our subsidiaries by product type in order to reduce costs and maximize synergies,” said Allavena. “The advantage is that because our subsidiaries cover so much of the packaging industry, we have wide-reaching knowledge that everyone can share.”
It’s a move which will strengthen the company, he said. “The packaging business is generally a fragmented one, but there is a considerable amount of consolidation happening,” he said. “That will only be good for the industry.”