Blow molding industry booms during pandemic, says industry veteran Bob Jackson

Jan. 4, 2021
Demand for new, used, refurbished machines has surged, amid early run on hygiene supplies and recent automobile industry comeback.

By Bruce Geiselman 

The blow molding industry and its equipment suppliers are thriving amid the coronavirus pandemic that has shut down or slowed much of the world economy. 

“Everything happened in March, and it became apparent that hand wipes and cleaners and all of those sorts of things would become necessary,” said Bob Jackson, owner of Jackson Machinery, which sells used, refurbished and new blow molding equipmentThe company also refurbishes customers’ existing equipment. 

Jackson Machinery’s unit sales are up by 25 percent to 30 percent for 2020, Jackson said.  

“All of a sudden, every blow molder in the country began getting little machines to make two cavities, three cavities of hand wipes and canisters just because they would be quick, it would be easy, and there wasn’t a lot of investment. All of a sudden, all of the little machines that we had in inventory, six or seven of them, vanished overnight. It has been going onward and upward ever since.  

“Every blow molder in North America is flat-out full, and every fellow that knows anything about blow molding in the world is busy and employed. There are relatively few machines left. The new machines take too long to build. Everybody is busier than all get-out in our entire industry. It’s pretty amazing.” 

While blow molders initially grabbed up the small machines because they were readily available and relatively cheap, sales are now increasing for larger machines, including double-sided electric blow molding machines. 

Part of the reason for the recent sales in larger machines is because areas of the economy that initially had been hurt by the pandemic, like automobile sales, are starting to recover with news that vaccines are on the way. 

“Everything is growing in blow molding, whether it’s 55-gallon drums or automotive parts,” Jackson said. “Car sales were off 12 percent at the early stages of 2020. Now, they’re climbing back upand automobile companies are starting back up. There are 36 blow molded parts in a typical car.” 

Jackson Machinery’s refurbishing business has been busy.  

“We’re booked out through March of [2021] in terms of rebuilds going on,” Jackson said. “It’s just intensely busy. 2020 has been an extraordinarily successful year for every blow molder in North America and probably the world.” 

Jackson said he expects strong sales to continue into 2021. 

“Absolutely,” Jackson said. “In spite of the elections, and in spite of all the angst and all of the other noise that you’re hearing, the economy is still going forward.” 

With the arrival of vaccines, demand for certain products, like cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer, might return to normal, but that likely wouldn’t be until mid- to late 2021, he said.  

Jackson continues to buy used equipment to resell when he can find it, and he is the U.S. representative for Alphamac, an Italian manufacturer of all-electric blow molding machines. In addition, Jackson Machinery could resume building its own machines, which it hasn’t done for several years. 

“The demand is such that we’re probably going to do that,” Jackson said. 

However, blow molders are encountering some obstacles. One of the largest problems is finding employees to operate the equipment. 

“The core of the issue is people, and to get your plants full, you have to have people that want to work,” Jackson said. “They’re searching for people.” 

Another challenge is finding adequate resin for their manufacturing needs. The impact of COVID-19 and a flood in Midland, Mich., where Dow Chemical is headquartered, helped contribute to a resin shortage, he said.  


Jackson Machinery Inc., Port Washington, Wis., 262-284-1066,