Encore Tissue

As I arrive at Encore Tissue in Gilbertson Road Laverton North to start my day, I am passed by a ‘B Double’ truck moving converted Encore Tissue products to our off-site distribution center. I get the feeling that overnight converting plant output has achieved high productivity levels.

David Holckner, Encore Tissue

On my smart phone I have already reviewed the Encore Tissue daily report including raw material arrivals, manufactured volume by machine, sales rate and inventory levels. Some may call it micro-management but this is the DNA of Encore Tissue, Australia’s low-cost tissue manufacturer. We run on minimum sufficiency: that is, we only do what is necessary to provide our customers with high quality tissue products and excellent service levels at the lowest cost.


MY GRANDPARENTS LEFT RUSSIA AND POLAND IN THE MID 1920’S and made their way to Australia to escape persecution and to try and improve their life in a new land that was far from their comfort zone and familiarity. On my mother’s side, The Smorgon Family established a shop selling meat and all the family worked together in this new enterprise. This was the foundation of Smorgon Consolidated Industries which grew to become Australia’s largest family company and included businesses in the following industries: meat, paper, tissue, steel, glass, plastics and technology, as well as investments in property and financial markets. At Smorgon – a company now with a diverse range of working family members, ownership, skills and abilities – each family member had a right to veto in decision-making and the system worked well for nearly 70 years. In the mid- 1990’s the Smorgon family, now numbering 22 working members across three generations, decided to divest all business assets and each of the seven Family groups would pursue their own individual interests.


IN 1995, the Holckner Family, comprising my father Charlie Holckner, my brother Mark Holckner and I, commenced the task of looking for a new operating business that could provide an opportunity for our family to work together and to face new challenges. We would use our many years of previous business experience and apply our well-proven business principles to our new enterprise. We reviewed many business plans and ideas before a financier approached us in mid-1998 with a small tissue business that was having financial difficulties, and their cash reserves had run out. Within a few days, we were on our way to visit the tissue mill that was located in Albury, about 300 kilometers north of Melbourne. Here we found a Chinese-built Fourdrinier tissue machine with a deckle of 1.6m and annual output of 2,500 tonnes of recycled tissue. The mill manager was a former employee of Smorgon and we quickly understood the issues facing the business. The converting plant was located in Melbourne and jumbo rolls were transferred daily from the tissue mill to the converting plant, which included two start-stop converting lines, bagging machines using pre-made bags and core making machines, all of which had been built ‘in house’.


ENCORE TISSUE WAS BORN IN OCTOBER 1998 when we decided to buy the equipment and product brands of the business and set about improving product quality and growing the volume. We found that the converting plant’s labor force was not skilled or motivated and the first week my brother, nephew and I had to complete a private label order for one of our supermarket customers. After about 3 weeks of ownership we decided to move the complete converting plant to our main base at Laverton North, on the western side of Melbourne. We had owned businesses for many years in this area and we knew a large number of suppliers and contractors. The following month we travelled to Italy and met with Fabio Perini and other suppliers to investigate a new converting line. Fabio Perini showed us a new Sincro 4.0 line at their Alfa Division that had been prepared for a forthcoming exhibition open house and was available for sale. After a long day and night of negotiations, we purchased the line with some modifications and the following day we visited Bologna where we agreed on a TMC wrapper and bundler.


THE TISSUE MILL NEEDED MAJOR IMPROVEMENTS and based on our previous tissuemaking knowledge, we rebuilt the stock preparation plant and installed a new tissue machine drive, ground the Yankee cylinder, installed a QCS, enabling an increase in production to 4,000 tonnes per year.
The improved product quality and upgraded plant enabled us to commence growing our sales volume.
By 2002 to satisfy our growth we needed more volume of tissue jumbo rolls and a project commenced to install a new tissue machine at our Laverton North site. We managed to find an almost new OVER Meccanica twin wire tissue machine located at Velcarta, in Scafati, Italy, originally owned by Kruger Tissue, that had been in bankruptcy courts for over 10 years. We purchased the entire plant and all the equipment from the local dealers, dismantled the plant and shipped it to Melbourne.
My father took on the challenge of relocating the tissue machine and upgrading many parts of the equipment and process. He established a team of engineers, many of whom had previously worked with our family and by December 2003, the tissue machine was running in its new location in Melbourne.
We would now be capable of producing both recycled and virgin products. At about the same time, we upgraded our converting line with Fabio Perini 470 and 475 embossing stands, enabling deco-lamination.


AT THE TIME, THE AUSTRALIAN MARKET WAS CHANGING TO 3-PLY TOILET TISSUE and next we added an additional unwind stand from Futura to our converting line and upgraded our wrapping machine to a Casmatic model A5T.
In 2008 Merino, one of our competitors based near Brisbane in the state of Queensland (about 2,000 km north of Melbourne), was experiencing financial difficulties.
We purchased all plant and equipment assets, land and buildings, inventory and brands from the administrators and quickly decided to move the converting plant from Brisbane to our Melbourne site location. The Merino business had a significant market position on major retailer shelves and it was necessary to continue supply. We established a project team and relocated, commissioned and commenced operating the complete Fabio Perini Sincro converting plant in six weeks. Once the converting plant was up and running, we modified the building so that we could unwind large-diameter jumbo rolls. In order for both converting lines to have the same orientation for packaging materials, we converted the Merino A5T wrapping machine from left to right-hand orientation as part of our relocation project. Merino had purchased one of the first A5T wrapping machines and, coincidentally, it was only two serial numbers away from our existing A5T wrapper.
Further investments were made in additional unwind stands and a Casmatic CMB 202. The Merino land and buildings and excess inventory were sold and the two businesses consolidated.


ENCORE TISSUE WAS NOW IN A POSITION TO SUPPLY A FULL RANGE OF MULTI-PLY VIRGIN AND RECYCLED CONVERTED TISSUE PRODUCTS, both branded and private label, to our market. The business grew significantly and soon we found ourselves needing additional jumbo roll capacity.
We reviewed many options to upgrade our tissue machine and finally decided to replace the entire machine excluding the Yankee cylinder. After a full investigation of options and suppliers we decided to install a PMPoland crescent former, modular press section and pope reel and a Fomat integrated hi-temperature hood and Mingazzini waste heat recovery boiler system. The Fomat ‘Combo’ units have an innovative design and this installation will be a world first for this technology. The recirculation fan, burner system and heat exchanger are pre-assembled in an insulated module that saves installation time and cost.
The PMPoland pope reel and a new high-consistency pulper supplied by ST Macchine was installed in November-December on a 15 day paper-to-paper shutdown and the balance of the new machine will be installed during February-March of this year.
Today we have 3 generations of Holckner Family members working together supported by a dedicated management team, and we are all looking forward to the challenge of continuing to build our business, offering our customers improved tissue quality and innovative products with our new capability.
Nearly one-hundred years ago when my paternal grandfather departed Poland for Australia, our family name was shortened from Holtzkener (meaning “one who knows wood”) to Holckner.
We are truly living the life of our Family name.



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