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Published: Wednesday, 8/15/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Local inventor's magnets attract a major customer

BY KRIS TURNER
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Randy Boudouris, pictured in his office, landed a contract with Kraft for gum packages that seal with magnets. These magnets are put on the packaging during the printing process and help keep gum fresh for longer periods of time. Randy Boudouris, pictured in his office, landed a contract with Kraft for gum packages that seal with magnets. These magnets are put on the packaging during the printing process and help keep gum fresh for longer periods of time.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Twelve years ago, Randy Boudouris dreamt of revolutionizing the way gum, cigarette, and cereal boxes closed.

It was one of the main reasons he founded MagnetNotes Ltd., but the Sylvania resident found himself sidetracked by other projects and a four-year battle with prostate cancer. His dream, however, always remained in the back of his head, nagging at him.

Then, two years ago, a Kraft Foods supplier approached Mr. Boudouris about using magnetic technology to seal boxes. Mr. Boudouris jumped at the chance to realize his dream and — perhaps — forever change resealable packaging. The technology not only can keep a package closed, it can help keep a product fresh.

"When Kraft came up to my plant, I think they had the misconception it would be like Frankenstein's lab with sparks flying," he said. "The process was not complicated. They sat down and said, ‘Do you think we could do this?'?"

Mr. Boudouris' answer was a resounding yes. He declined to disclose the amount of his contract with Kraft, but he said his idea could eventually generate tens of millions of dollars for his Toledo business.

After a period of trial and error, Mr. Boudouris and his team at MagnetNotes developed a method that allows Kraft to manufacture boxes and apply the magnetic coating to them in a one-step process. The first product with the seal — Stride iD gum — is to arrive in stores this month.

"The value is this: If you tried to do this with traditional magnets, you would have to take separate magnets, put them in large rolls, and glue them on at some point during manufacturing," Mr. Boudouris said. "What my process allows is the ability to make a magnet at 1,000 feet per minute."

Magnets are put on the packaging of the gum, in purple, during the printing process to help keep gum fresh for longer periods of time. Magnets are put on the packaging of the gum, in purple, during the printing process to help keep gum fresh for longer periods of time.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Including the magnetic technology in the machine that manufactures the gum boxes took some work, but Lou Soltis, president and chief executive officer of Toledo's Innovative Controls Corp., said his company was able to merge the two and come up with an efficient process.

The machine developed by Innovative Controls can produce the magnetic packages or manufacture traditional ones, and it takes only a matter of minutes to switch modes, Mr. Soltis said. Switching modes took an hour or longer using older equipment, he said.

"The machine prior to this had a lot of limited operations," Mr. Soltis said. "We now have speed and diversification in packaging because of these capabilities."

A Kraft spokesman said the company would not comment until the product is released.

Kraft holds food rights for the magnetic technology for 10 years, but it is being adapted for other products, Mr. Boudouris said. The next big thing for magnetic seals will be cigarettes; MagnetNotes is finalizing a contract with one of the world's largest producers of cigarette cartons, he said.

Mr. Boudouris declined to name the company he's working with because the contract has not been finalized.

"We feel strongly there are great opportunities in pharmaceuticals and other markets, maybe health and beauty," he said. "It's any package that needs to be reopened and closed."

Contact Kris Turner at: kturner@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.



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