Recently acquired by printing giant Novus Holdings, ITB Manufacturing has grown into a formidable company supplying flexible packaging products. From humble beginnings in 1983 as a family-business to today with a client base of over 400, we take a closer look at the person behind ITB Manufacturing’s success: MD Tim Stewart.

Inspired by watching his father build a packaging and manufacturing company, Tim Stewart has always had an uncanny interest in plastics and packaging.

“Packaging 40 years ago was predominantly cotton, calico, hessian and paper-based. Today we are at the cutting edge of manufacturing and producing innovative packaging materials,” he says. “Polymer to extrude film became commercially available during the 60’s and the technology to blow film, cut and seal plastic bags was only in its infancy when I started at the business.”

After school Stewart worked at the Durban Bag Company where his father was the Managing Director. The opportunity to see exactly what it took to build a company in the manufacturing industry was the spark that Stewart needed to enter the fray.

“I completed my BCom in Economics and Business Management at the University of Natal in 1979. It was in October 1983 when the opportunity to start ITB as a family business appeared and by March 1984 production had commenced. The first product that we rolled off the production line was heavy duty sacks for fertilizer and animal feeds,” says Stewart, his passion for the industry clearly evident by his smile as he fondly recalls the past.

But what does the future of the packaging industry look like?

Stewart highlights that exciting technologies and changing attitudes about the environment will revolutionise the packaging and manufacturing industry.

“Technological improvements in polymers and extrusion processes to achieve improved packaging performances and the light-weighting of films will be one of the next trends shaping our industry,” he says. “Companies in this sector will also need to act with increased environmental awareness and implement better solutions to improve the threat that comes from pollution.”

To keep abreast with the latest developments in the industry, Stewart clears his diary for visits to international trade shows.  “Being at shows gives us the opportunity to invest in the best film extrusion and converting equipment in order to stay ahead of the curve.”

But it isn’t just the industry he is passionate about. It is also people.

“I love working with clients: From scoping out the challenge he/she may have to deliver a solution. This is a shared passion that is evident in all of the ITB leader group, and produces fantastic team spirit and energy.”

Stewart enjoys mountain biking, cooking, traveling and spending time with friends and family when not at work. His parting words of wisdom?

“Business is for fun and for profit; make sure you are getting at least one or the other (but aim for both!) If it’s worth doing, do it right. Learn from all mistakes and don’t make the same simple mistake twice,” concludes Stewart.