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Family bottle business becomes environmental saviour

Managing Director, Rick Holmes, in the new Petone warehouse

A move back to glass packaging has transformed a century-old family business into an environmental saviour.

Managing Director, Rick Holmes says that Arthur Holmes Ltd was already on a roll as the main supplier of jars and bottles to the country’s cottage industries. Now knowledge of the environmental damage caused by plastics is pushing a return to glass packaging.

The company has come almost full circle. Until 40 years ago they sold only glass jars and bottles. They took on food grade recyclable plastics to meet new demands, but now about 90 per cent of their business is glass, as it is the preferred packaging for most products.

The company has become a key supplier of the country’s cottage industries and the popular farmers’ markets because it can provide glass containers in small reusable cardboard cartons.

It also sells direct to the public, from its new Petone, Lower Hutt, base and also online.

Popular uses for the glass containers sold in small numbers include all types of food packaging, cosmetics, essential oils, lavender products, alternative medicines and craft beers.

Part of the glass bottles and jars range the company sells

Rick says they fill three large courier vans every day with small orders. Freight trucks take the larger pallet orders, as Arthur Holmes Ltd also supplies glass products by the pallet load to large manufacturing businesses throughout New Zealand.

Established in 1910

Arthur Holmes Ltd began trading in Wellington in 1910.

Rick is the third generation of the family involved in the business, following his father, Jock, and grandfather and founder, Arthur.

Rick Holmes is the third generation running the family firm begun in 1910

After their Newtown building was yellow stickered several years ago they began a search for alternative – and much larger – premises. The two-year search ended when they bought their new Petone premises, which now has a large modern well-displayed showroom.

Every day 35,000 vehicles pass their site at 66 Waione Street near the Petone Beach. They didn’t look for a high-profile site, it’s just that the building was suitable.

The company’s new premises at 66 Waione Street, Petone, has been given a modern makeover

Rick says the company prides itself that it is a family business and treats the staff like family members.

The loyal long-serving staff enable my business to succeed,” Rick says.

He makes a point of providing a pleasant work environment to keep his staff motivated and happy.

Rick says glass containers are mostly cheaper than plastic although the perception is otherwise.

He explains that glass is generally cheaper because it is only made from inexpensive natural sand and a little silica plus lots of heat to melt it, whereas plastic is always derived from expensive artificial chemicals extracted from oil and then lots of heat is used to melt it.

He says customers also know glass is better than plastic for packaging food because it is inert and there is no risk of chemical contamination.

Rick says some of their stock comes from O-I New Zealand in Auckland (a division of ACI Operations NZ Ltd) with the majority imported in 40-foot high-cube containers unloaded in the warehouse from Europe, Britain, Taiwan and, more recently, from China.

Customer service is hugely important to the company and they pride themselves on answering the phone in person. They also try to send orders out the same day they are received.

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