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Packaging towlettes and travel packets

Eve Yen, CEO and founder of Diamond Wipes Intl., immigrated from
her native Taiwan in pursuit of a more well-rounded education for
her daughter. Here, she founded a disposable wipes business that
added more than 90 full-time jobs to the U.S. economy.

If you've ever eaten at an Outback Steakhouse, Tony Roma's or Applebee's restaurant, you might have used a hot towelette manufactured by Diamond Wipes Intl. (DWI). The company was founded by CEO Eve Yen 15 years ago, when she immigrated from her native Taiwan to pursue a more comprehensive education for her eldest daughter, Vivian. "Regardless of how other people criticize it, the American school system, when the parents and teachers are guiding the students correctly, teaches children how to think through a project," Yen remarks. "A lot of the kids also do charity work and community service, so they learn to be part of the society."

After arriving in the U.S., Yen noticed that the practice of offering hot towels or towelettes to restaurant diners at the end of their meals was absent from her dining experiences. This is a common offering by restaurants throughout Asia. After recognizing the need, Yen bought a single horizontal form/fill/seal machine and began making and selling microwaveable disposal towelettes for the foodservice and restaurant industries. Originally housed in a 1,700-sq-ft facility in El Monte, CA, the company's primary manufacturing facility now is located in Ontario, CA. The Ontario plant occupies more than 100,000 sq ft and produces over 1 million towelettes each day for its own La Fresh brand, as well as towelettes sold to a number of private-label and contract-packaging customers. Today, DWI is providing a livelihood for more than just Yen's family. The manufacturing facility contributes more than 90 full-time jobs to the American economy, and it also uses a temporary workforce of approximately 30 people who are employed based on manufacturing demands.

The company's offerings also have expanded. In addition to towelettes for the foodservice and restaurant industries, DWI manufactures a wide range of wet and dry wipes, delivering products as diverse as deodorant s for both men and women, nail polish remover for women, sunscreens, shoe shine, insect repellent and electronic screen cleaner.

Travel as a muse

Many of these products are manufactured for DWI's sister company La Fresh Group, Inc., and were inspired by Yen's travels, which she blogs about on the La Fresh website (www.lafreshgroup.com). "My skin gets very dry when I'm flying, especially if I'm on a long-distance flight," she remarks. "That's why we created the lotion wipes. And the idea for makeup removal came to me when I was staying at a hotel."

In addition to their compact size, the wipes also contain less than 1 oz of liquid each so that they easily meet U.S. Department of Homeland Security Transportation Security Administration current guidelines for transporting liquids and gels in carry-on bags through security checkpoints.

A day's grooming packed for the ready

La Fresh's One Day Stay Travel Packets kit are designed for frequent travelers. Housed in a reusable PVC zipper bag, the kits are available in gender-specific combinations. The One Day Stay Travel Packets for Him contains shaving gel, anti-bacterial, shoe shine, lens cleaning and deodorant wipes in addition to a dental cleaning finger mitt. The One Day Stay Travel Packets for Her also includes a dental- cleaning finger mitt, an antibacterial towelette and a deodorant wipe; it additionally contains wipes for general makeup removal, eye and lip makeup removal and application of a hydrating lotion.

The wipes for general makeup removal are manufactured and packaged using a Model SL-110 purchased from Volpak USA(www.volpak.com). Standard configurations of the SL-110 include simplex and duplex versions, with output speeds reaching up to 180 pouches/min. Pouches are be separated by slit or perforation, allowing operators to make a single, separated pouch or strips of up to 10 pouches. "The most popular request from our contract-packaging customers are single-use pouches that can be distributed as sampler packets, but requests for twin pouches with perforation (for wet/dry wipe application or shampoo/conditioner combos) options is increasingly more popular," says DWI creative coordinator Moto Okawa. The machine requires only one operator for all operations. The wipe material arrives at DWI in large rolls, which the company first folds then cuts into towelettes. The towelettes are folded again before being placed into the pouch material.

This hf/f/s machine is one of four machines DWI uses to form single and twin pouches, then dispense liquids onto towelette carrier material. These machines seal the pouches and perforate or cut them from the web.

The SL-110 then folds the pouch material in half and seals the bottom. The hf/f/s machine then seals the sides of the pouch. The SL-110 piston-filling system then dispenses the liquid, cream or gels to the pouch material. The hf/f/s system then seals the top of the pouch, enclosing the liquid and wipe inside the pouch. To separate the pouches, the hf/f/s system either cuts or perforaes the pouch from the web. Finished pouches exit the SL-110 onto a simple, automatic belt conveyor that deposits the pouch into an inner shipper. The h/f/f/s machine operator checks batches of the finished packages before they are sent out. In addition to the Volpak SL-110, DWI also has three other h/f/f/s machines, including a machine supplied by Prodo-Pak Corp.(www.prodo-pak.com).

Set for growth

DWI has added another factory in Bucyrus, OH, to accommodate growth in its private-labeling and contract-packaging services. According to Yen, DWI could handle up to 30 percent more work without making further investments.


More information is available:
Prodo-Pak Corp., 973/777-7770. www.prodo-pak.com.
Volpak USA, 804/794-6688. www.volpak.com.
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