Four decades in the packaging industry and Bob Cork Agencies remains a pioneer in the South African market.
The business celebrates its 40th birthday in July – a remarkable feat for any firm, let alone one that grew out of a child’s toy room in the early 1980s.
The innovations that owner Bob Cork and son Gareth have sourced and produced has enabled the company to leave its mark in a highly competitive field, with its longevity a testimony to the high regard in which they are held.
We’ve grown tenfold since we started,” Bob says.
Certainly, a far cry from those early days in 1983 when a young Gareth – now a business partner – had to relocate the room housing his playthings to make space for his father’s office.
It goes without saying that no business is free of challenges, and Bob Cork Agencies has had its fair share over the years.
In the 1980’s the company was one of the first to introduce barcoding on packaging to South Africa, but in 2007 Bob decided to focus exclusively on packaging solutions – only a few short months before the global financial crisis unfolded.
Yet the move paid off – and handsomely at that.
There have been several key moments in the life of the business that have made it the success it is today.
In 1985, Bob met the owner of Cape Pack at a show in England, and through this connection the software was introduced into the South African market. To this day the business has continued offering these products, which now form part of the Esko range.
“The software is very innovative,” Gareth says.
“Our customers used to arrange boxes onto pallets by hand, but when Cape Pack was introduced to the world it changed everything, as you now had an application that would do the work for you far more accurately and with an array of options, rather than you having to work it out for yourself manually.”
Bob Cork Agencies has also been at the forefront of compostables in the country, offering innovations like compostable absorbent tray liners to name a few, in this space.
Again, Bob had an eye for the value of such offerings early on. In the 80s a brand that sold kale chips wanted an eco-friendly product so the business set about researching and creating a bioplastic laminated to a wood cellulose product, allowing it to compost.
“That pushed us into a direction of compostability,” Gareth says.
For the Corks, it has always been about picking up on new trends as early as possible.
In recent years there has been a greater focus on recycling and sustainability, and the business has adapted accordingly.
Bob attributes his 40 successful years to a network of incredible contacts who excel in their respective skill areas and these partners having the confidence in him to take good ideas to the commercial level.
“It’s an exciting industry that is forever changing. There are always lots of new opportunities on the horizon.”