For recycling equipment maker Pure Loop GmbH, it just feels right to be back on the Fakuma show floor.
The doors had barely opened on the first day of Fakuma and Managing Director Manfred Dobersberger was already chatting up people at the company's booth as the show awakened.
For Dobersberger, leading Pure Loop through the pandemic has been a challenge. But not one without opportunity.
"Everything is related with corona. I would say from our point of view, at the moment, the market is booming," he said. "There is no doubt about it."
Pure Loop, a unit of Erema Group, certainly has had difficulty engaging potential new customers since early 2020. But market forces are allowing the company to maintain sales of new machinery to existing customers at a healthy pace allowing for continued growth, Dobersberger said.
So being back at Fakuma, which was cancelled last October due to the virus, brings renewed hope to the managing director to connect with new people.
"Finding new customers was a little more difficult because the platforms, the shows [and] the speeches we couldn't make out there were just missing," he said. "So where we could attract customers we didn't know or they didn't know us, that was a bit of a challenge.
"But we took the time and looked into alternative markets. And, I think, is a good part for us," he said.
Pure Loop had just started looking into the clothing industry as a potential market for its recycling machinery when COVID-19 struck early last year. What the company found was up to 50 percent of the PE fibers created for clothing can get lost in the supply chain from manufacturing to conversion into clothing to sales. This means there is plenty of PE available for recapture using Pure Loop's technology.
Pure Loop is promoting its ISEC evo line of equipment, which the company describes as a "material all-rounder" that can recycle different types and shapes of material. ISEC evo, Dobersberger said, shreds, melts, extrudes and pelletises production waste in one integrated unit.
Time made available by COVID lockdowns allowed Pure Loop to better investigate the segment and determine there is a viable market for the company's equipment, Dobersberger said.
While Pure Loop was essentially unable to really cultivate new clients in existing markets, he said a combination of forces has pushed existing customers into more equipment purchases. Legislation and regulation, along with public opinion and company recycling goals, are spurring creation of additional recycling capacity.
Pure Loop has benefited from these market conditions and has been able to sell additional machinery to existing customers as those processors continue to expand, he said.
As part of Erema Group, Pure Loop concentrates on the post-industrial plastics recycling, where clean manufacturing scrap is captured and recycled into new pellets.
About half of the company's market is in film, with another 30 percent or so in materials such as carpeting, artificial turf and geotextiles. The final 20 percent is what Dobersberger described as solids such as pipe and injection moulded parts. He estimated sales have continued to grow about 20 percent annually during COVID-19.
Regardless of use, the managing director said Pure Loop relies on shows like Fakuma to wave the company flag in an attempt to attract new customers as well as reconnect with existing clients.
"We are really happy that we can go out again and see the customer," he said. "I'm an optimist. I brought a lot of business cards with me."