tna turns 40: Four decades of innovation and success
posted on 12 October, 2022 by Bindu Panicker - Brand & Corporate Communications Manager
It’s been quite a journey
2022 marks 40 years since our founders, Nadia and Alf Taylor, took the leap and started manufacturing packaging technology solutions. Their ambitions were high back in 1982, but even they couldn’t have imagined the amazing progress the company would make over the next four decades. As part of our ongoing anniversary celebrations, we invited Nadia and Alf to take us on a personal journey back through each of the four decades tna solutions has been in business. Read on to learn more about the innovations, hurdles, highs, and lows that shaped the tna you know today.
1980s: Making waves
Alf: “In 1985, we developed the idea for the first rotary vertical form fill and seal (VFFS) packaging system. It’s crazy to think that this disruptive innovation that changed the face of the food packaging industry was conceptualised on the back of a beer coaster! A couple of years later in 1987, having refined our game-changing design and established tna, we proudly wore our gold and green Australian colours to interpack, where we showcased the tna robag® for the first time. At the event, we fielded lots of questions from industry professionals about our backgrounds and where we were based. When we replied, we were from Australia, a couple of people misheard it as ‘Austria’ and when they finally understood us, they said in surprise: “Australians can’t develop technology like this!”
Nadia: “Around this time, we saw the first sales for our flagship tna robag® systems. One of the early orders that stands out in my memory was from potato chip manufacturer Tayto NI, which bought six baggers from us in the late 1980s. The process of getting the machines delivered, installed and commissioned into the Tayto factory, housed within a castle, was memorable to say the least! After ferrying the machines in the back of a truck from Cairn Ryan on the West Coast of Scotland to Larne in Northern Ireland, we held our breath while each of them was lifted three floors into a hole in the caste wall which formed part of the factory. Alf and I decided that it would be safer to help unload the machines up on the third floor, on the assurance that they couldn’t fall upwards!
1990s: Chasing new horizons
Alf: “Nadia and I are immensely proud to call tna an Australian company – after all, it’s the amazing spirt of Aussie determination and innovation that helped us kick-start our business. As tna reached its tenth anniversary however, we started to expand our focus beyond the relatively small Australian market, opening our very first international office in Birmingham, England in 1991. This was a huge milestone for us – a permanent presence in the Northern Hemisphere meant we could serve customers from as far afield as Europe and North Africa. The venture proved successful with Red Mill Snack Foods becoming our first mainland UK customer, quickly followed by another buyer in Belfast, who were both blown away at the speed and performance of the tna robag® in comparison to every other bagging system available at the time.
In 1995, we added to our growing number of global offices by establishing tna North America. Now, with access to the world’s largest snack food market, the business went from strength-to-strength, allowing us to expand our reach even further. By the time the millennium came around, there was a permanent tna office on every continent – apart from Antarctica!”
2000s: Becoming a true all-rounder
Nadia: “Potato-based products have always been our ‘bread and butter’ (so to speak) but in the early 2000s, we began to expand our offering to new food categories, including cereals, confectionery, salads and frozen foods. This period also saw a real uptick in our exports, as we became firmly established players on the international stage.
As the company grew, it became more important for Alf and I to share tna‘s success with those less fortunate. While on a business trip to South Africa in 2002, a customer introduced us to an underdeveloped township called Diepsloot in Johannesburg, South Africa. At the time, more than 300 students were studying in run-down shipping containers that were ill-equipped as classrooms, as well as being dangerous for both students and staff. The town was in desperate need of a new school building. Faced with this situation head-on, we agreed to build an upgraded school facility and met with builders the very next day.
This was followed by another project supporting disadvantaged children growing up in a remote orphanage in Mexico. We have always felt we could do more to help vulnerable groups – especially children – around the world. These two projects paved the way for tna‘s philanthropic arm, The Nadia and Alf Taylor Foundation, which was established shortly thereafter.”
2010s: Growing the tna family
Alf: “By the 2010s, our growing international presence meant we could serve customers from Texas to Tipperary and Tokyo, while our diversified offering meant we could help optimise production for a wide range of food products. For us, the next logical step was to shift our strategy from supplying single high-performance VFFS machines, to total food production systems. We therefore made a series of strategic acquisitions designed to expand our portfolio and processing capabilities. With the addition of brands such as FOODesign, Florigo and NID to the tna family of brands, we were able to provide a complete line of processing and packaging systems – making us the world’s first end-to-end solutions provider for the snack industry.
This represented a major shift for us as a business and was certainly seen as risky by many of our colleagues at the time. But behind every great innovation is a company willing to break the mould. Now, with the wider industry keen to emulate our success, we know we made the right choice to step out of our comfort zone and give our customers access to total food processing and packaging solutions.”
2020s and beyond: Our vision for the future
Alf: “With 40 years of experience behind us, we’re moving ahead with purpose. In terms of our technological innovations, our driving focus will be to bring the benefits of digital technology to food brands. Sophisticated simplicity is a core concept that has defined our solutions since the beginning. Now, we’ll extend this ethos to the realm of smart processing and packaging equipment, distilling complex ideas down to the core facts manufacturers need to make informed decisions. Watch this space for some exciting new product updates and innovations coming later this year!”
Nadia: “Our commitment to the ‘Three Ps’ – People, Planet and Prosperity – will remain unchanged as we look ahead to our next chapter. The Nadia and Alf Taylor Foundation continues to change lives all over the globe, with over 20,000 people across 39 countries directly benefitting from our Foundation-supported activities to date. My personal goal is to be able to fund even more amazing projects in the years to come.”
For more information on the 40 year anniversary and tna‘s legacy as a leading supplier of food processing and packaging solutions, visit: https://www.tnasolutions.com/news-media/tna-news/tna-turns-40-celebrating-four-decades-of-revolutionary-food-processing-and-packaging-solutions/