Pandemic spurs growth at Amsler

Jan. 11, 2021
Demand for bottles for hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and household cleaners, as well as for a variety of beverages, has heated up blow molding equipment sales.

Amsler, which specializes in PET stretch blow molding machines and auxiliary equipment, saw significant sales growth in 2020 because of the pandemic, and CEO Bruce Coxhead said he expects that to continue in 2021. 

Amsler’s 2020 sales are expected to be double those of 2019, and similar growth is expected in 2021, he said. The company is headquartered in Bolton, Ontario. 

A variety of factors have led to Amsler ramping up production. 

“One is that COVID messed up the economy a little bit, but for us, it’s been a positive,” Coxhead saidIt means more plastic bottles are required and more machines are required.” 

Blow molders in the U.S. and Canada are having trouble keeping up with demand for bottles for household cleaners, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizers, Coxhead said. The company also is seeing growth in the medical packaging market, including containers for vitamins and similar health-related items.  

“COVID hit, and then all of a sudden, all the bottle manufacturers and suppliers were just screaming to get capacity,” Coxhead said. “I even sold machines that I had on my floor on a weekend at midnight for cash. Everybody has ramped up. They are maxed out in terms of bottles for both personal care and the industrial size, and that’s affected the supply and demand of machinery. It’s helped us increase sales. 

The public also is buying more bottled juices and “the organic good stuff you’re supposed to drink,” Coxhead said. He also is selling machines for making bottles for isotonic beverages and sports drinks. 

“I think people are becoming a little more concerned about their health,” Coxhead said. “They want to stay a little healthier.” 

Another growth market is what Coxhead calls fizzy water with booze. It’s what the beverage industry calls hard or alcoholic seltzers, which come in a variety of flavors. The beverages are growing in popularity and are taking up space in grocery stores previously reserved for beer, Coxhead said. 

Canada’s legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use also has created new markets. Amsler has four cannabis-related projects under way in Canada  two for liquids and two for packaging solids. The liquids go into a standard PET bottle, while the solids go into a tamper-proof blow molded container that looks like a jar for face cream, he said. 

Coxhead joined Amsler in January 2017 as GM and became CEO in January 2020 when Werner Amsler sold the business to benpac, a Swiss company. During Coxhead’s time at Amsler, it has expanded its offerings to include more than blow molding machines, which has also increased sales.  

“I can take you from the pellet all the way to the container,” Coxhead said. “We design preforms now. We design bottles now. We’re doing barriers. We’re giving our customers a lot more options that they can work with. As a result, that’s increased machine sales. 

“We’ve also increased the product line up to six cavity. Werner, when I came on board, was hovering around three cavity, and we bumped it to four and then sixThis is giving us growth where maybe we were a little stagnant before. We’ve got barrier wine bottles now. We’ve got 64-ounce beer growlers now. They are all starting to get legs and take off. 

Coxhead said he doesn’t see signs of business slowing down. 

The company has a one-cavity lab machine at its headquarters to test prototypes for customers. In 2016, Amsler only ran the machine occasionally, Coxhead said. 

“In the last six months, that lab machine has not stopped running prototype development bottles for new customers and existing customers,” he said. “We’re literally keeping that machine running, which implies more molds, more new products coming out, more development for us. That’s sort of a telltale sign that it’s not slowing down.” 

While Coxhead said sales are up, the pandemic has imposed some challenges. It can be difficult to obtain parts from suppliers to build and repair machines, and shipments of machines and parts between the U.S. and Canada have slowed. 

“That’s the one hindrance  the border crossing of goods is slowed down,” Coxhead said. “Mail is slowed down. If I send a letter down to the States, it takes three weeks. 

Travel restrictions also have hampered the ability of some employees to visit U.S. customers. However, Amsler has representatives in the U.S.some of whom work for affiliated Benpac companies. In addition, the company is connecting with clients online.  

Coxhead said he isn’t sure how the change in U.S. leadership might affect his company. He credited President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese blow molding machines for making his equipment more competitive in the U.S. He also said President Trump is “pro-business, whether you like him or not.” He said it remains to be seen what types of policies the Biden administration will adopt. 

Amsler sells equipment in Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean, and Coxhead said he is seeing growth in all three areas. 


W. Amsler Equipment Inc., Bolton, Ontario, 905-951-9559, 

About the Author

Bruce Geiselman | Senior Staff Reporter

Senior Staff Reporter Bruce Geiselman covers extrusion, blow molding, additive manufacturing, automation and end markets including automotive and packaging. He also writes features, including In Other Words and Problem Solved, for Plastics Machinery & Manufacturing, Plastics Recycling and The Journal of Blow Molding. He has extensive experience in daily and magazine journalism.