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My Kinda Drum

From the Hazardous Cargo Bulletin, June 1999

The transport of dangerous goods naturally invokes serious risks, not only to humans and the environment but also to corporate coffers. Skolnik Industries is one drum company that seeks to minimise shippers' exposure to drum related accidents.

Introducing new packaging options on a near daily basis, Skolnik Industries believes that there are markets for all forms of packaging. However, the company's president, Howard Z Skolnik, stresses the importance of recognising the real function of each package design and promoting it to the right customer for the right movement. "Like putting the proverbial square peg into a round hole, steel containers may not be the right choice for all movements and so the company focuses on making sure the selected package meets the customer's requirements for the content's potential risk, method of transport and regulatory exposure," he explains.

"The most interesting development within the company over the past year has been its shift in focus from a price orientated market strategy to one that offers an educated approach to the risks of transporting dangerous goods. Once customers are aware of the risks associated with product movement, the cost of the package becomes secondary to the need for guaranteed safe transport without incident. Cleanup expenses, pollution fines and corporate exposure can far exceed the costs of packaging selection discounts," Skolnik asserts. Indeed, the company has even established a series of customer training programmes to highlight the risks of transporting dangerous products in inadequate packagings and to champion the importance of choosing high-quality units. "With packaging failures primarily the result of human error, additional steel thickness is one option that can significantly reduce the damage that occurs due to accidental fork-lift and nail penetrations," he explains.

"Skolnik Industries continues to ride the wave of creativity in growing market options and new product developments," he says, revealing that so far 1999 has seen the company focus on regulatory-led "steel drum opportunities" and the introduction of more bespoke designs to appease the changing needs of global industry. Although primarily a manufacturer, the company has continued to establish strategic alliances with other international companies offering products that complement its product portfolio and can service the needs of its diverse customer base, he reveals.

Under its quality assurance guidelines, customers can access a network of products globally as well as obtain references about packaging options that are a part of Skolnik's global alliances. "These options include, but are not limited to, steel containers of varying sizes, plastics units, intermediate bulk containers (IBCs), ISO shipping-container dimensionally-compliant units and technology transfers that allow for drum assembly in remote locations," he says, revealing that the company's strongest markets are in those countries where dangerous goods regulations are stringently enforced, such as in Europe and the US. "Countries that acknowledge the need for dangerous goods regulations but do not enforce these parameters are generally not suitable markets for Skolnik products, unless the companies located in those countries are based in countries that enforce these regulations and as a matter of corporate policy mandate packaging options," he comments.

Regarding recent raw material price movements, Skolnik reveals that some steel types did see a brief reduction in prices due to imports form outside the US. However, this, he believes, is only a temporary situation and the company is preparing to secure raw material costs for the coming year. "As the steel industry has demonstrated in the past, it usually responds to this type of market with increased prices due to increased demand and limited supply. Skolnik will endeavour to maintain competitive prices into 2000," he affirms.

On the issue of the environment, he explains, "The most significant impact on product sales in the 1990s has been the deterioration of government funded remediation projects. Once the kingpin of the environmental industry, these massive programmes have all but abandoned the sales options for Skolnik. Unfortunately, with thousands of identified Superfund sites in the US, Europe and Latin America, it is a matter of time and politics until these programmes regain funding and clean-up efforts resume."

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