A family-run Polish company with 25 years of experience in the glass packaging industry, Dekorglass Dzialdowo’s decoration facility and glassworks is owned by Gabriel and Elżbieta Chojak, the main shareholders who have successfully managed the company for over 25 years. Business Development Director Marcin Chojak is responsible for the technological development of the company. By focusing on innovation and sustainable development, Dekorglass has become an undisputed world leader in the decoration of bottles for alcohol beverages, alcohol-free products and perfumes.
“We work with contractors from all over the world, turning their ideas and dreams into tangible, small works of art,” says Gabriel Chojak, President and Chairman of the Dekorglass Dzialdowo Board, who together with his wife, son, daughter and son-in-law make up the nucleus of the company. “Our story began with decorating bottles using the screen printing method. Since then, thanks to the clear and focused vision of the founders, we have been successively modernising the machinery park to expand the offer with new innovative decoration methods to meet customer requirements. Our commitment radically changed and brought a new quality of products on the glass market throughout Europe. Since 2019, we are also the owners of a glassworks where we currently run a fully automated production focused on high-quality glass bottles for spirits, soft drinks and perfumes. Thanks to that, we are able to offer our clients full service with glass and decoration in one place.”
Dekorglass works with some of the biggest brands in the world – and has an exquisitely curated Instagram account (@dekorglass) where it showcases its most photogenic products and decorative techniques.
“Among others, we carry out projects for concerns such as LVMH – Glenmorangie Signet, Belvedere brands, The Pernod Ricard – brands like Absolut, G.H. Mumm, Havana Club or Diageo, the Johnnie Walker brand,” discloses Mr Chojak. “As far as the cosmetic industry is concerned, we helped develop and decorate the bottles for brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Shiseido, Versace and Hugo Boss. Our skills, flexibility and technological advancement enable us to be open to do complex projects and also standard ones that require more attractive price conditions.”
Situated in an advantageous location in the north-west of Poland, almost halfway between Warsaw and Gdańsk, home to the country’s largest seaport, Dekorglass’ operations also benefit from very good road infrastructure that allows swift transport of its products to customers in Poland and around the world. As an international company, Dekorglass produces “a lot for Western-European countries, United States and Canada, but at the same time we do not shy of working with Eastern-European countries, Middle-East customers or even Chinese brands like Nong Fu for example,” notes Mr Chojak.
Throughout the years the machinery park at Dekorglass has developed significantly. “We started with screen printing lines,” recalls Mr Chojak. “A simple but elegant decoration process that is present on most of the bottles we decorate. With time we extended this decoration by using precious metal screen printing. Real gold and platinum accentuate the product very well. Then there are hot stamping and inkjet (digital printing) […] to emphasise the uniqueness of the product. Next are all sorts of varnishing lines. All of them, including metallisation are water-based, giving us opportunities to make vignetting, transitions and different levels of transparency. There is also a newly opened vacuum metallisation line and old but trusty acid etching, that gives the well-known effect of frosted glass."
“We cannot forget about laser etching, the most favourite decoration process of high-end brands which want to highlight their exclusive product. We also apply decals and other accessories like gems, emblems or plates. All those accessories and decals are applied manually or automatically. All depends on the project and its complexity."
“An individual approach is our priority,” underlines Mr Chojak. “No two projects are the same, and each brand wants to stand out from the competition. We try to choose the decoration techniques so that the design, even if it is made on a standard bottle, looks original. Not every customer comes to us with a ready idea. There are entrepreneurs who want to enter the market with a new brand and then use our graphic help. Then the customer goes with us through all stages, from finding the bottle, to the package design sketch, 3D visualisation and the finished pattern. If one decoration does not meet the requirements, we offer an alternative so that the customer’s concept is materialised in the form of a finished product.” He cites the example of working with New Zealand brand Lunatic & Lover to decorate its Botanical Rum bottles. “The customer wanted the graphics to cover the arms of the bottle and reach its neck. The best the solution turned out to be a combination of two-layer painting and burning the graphics with a laser” to expose the colour below."
Currently the minimum bottle size that Dekorglass has decorated is 5ml and the largest has been 12 litres. “Both extremes are equally hard to decorate mostly due to the decoration idea. We did it though, and we are very proud of it,” says Mr Chojak.
An average production run for decorated glass is circa 20,000 pieces, with a minimum order quantity of 5000. “We are known for being flexible so we allow lower quantity productions,” note Mr Chojak, “but some costs are fixed and cannot be changed.”
Establishing its own glassworks
Visitors to the Dekorglass website are greeted with a succinct version of the company’s journey from glass decorator to glass manufacturer: “We often hear people say that they would like us to produce our own glass. It took us some time, but in autumn 2019, we were able to make our first glassware” reads the message on the homepage. In fact Mr Chojak had been considering this as an investment strategy for several years in order make Dekorglass more competitive on the market.
“Checking market trends … what we realised is obvious,” he explains: “More and more customers are choosing the companies which offer them a full range of service in one place, providing glass, decoration, closures and carton boxes. To meet those needs, the management decided to invest in the glassworks and equip it with the newest and most efficient machinery park.”
The glassworks that Dekorglass purchased in Tur, 200km west of its decoration site in Dzialdowo, was established in 1842, producing a variety of glass products until the second half of 19th century when a proper furnace was installed and the factory started to make beer bottles. The facility was also operational during the Second World War. In the 1950s the glassworks invested in semi-automatic lines and a new melting bath. Over the years the business changed hands and in June 2019, after the previous owner filed for bankruptcy, Dekorglass bought the factory.
The production capabilities that Dekorglass inherited with the purchase did not meet the company’s “high premium” requirements, recalls Mr Chojak, “so none of them were continued and we focused on implementing our own bottle standards.”
Fitting out the factory
The resulting brownfield project involved Dekorglass commissioning German company Glass Technology & Ceramics (GTC) to supply a 200tpd container glass production plant for the Tur site. GTC project-managed the operation and installed a new Stara Glass furnace and Centauro NOx reduction system to produce super flint glass of an exceptionally high quality with a simultaneous reduction of NOx and CO2. LWN Lufttechnik was chosen to supply air supply equipment. The furnace is fitted with three feeder lines for the production of premium bottles and the IS machines from Bottero, who also provided ware handling equipment, were specifically designed by GTC to fit Dekorglass’ requirements. The cold end features latest-technology camera inspection machines from Symplex (now part of Bucher Emhart Glass) and Esomatec star wheel inspection machines.
A number of main suppliers also worked directly with Dekorglass, with Car-Met providing the new annealing lehrs; Zecchetti (part of the EMS Group) was chosen for its cold end handling and packaging capabilities; and ZIPPE installed batch transport modification for the glassworks operation.
Dekorglass asked LWN to replace the cooling systems for the original furnace and IS machine it inherited, and sought assistance for replacing inadequate piping and cabling.
Dekorglass has maintained its close relationship with coatings and colour solutions provider Ferro, owner of Diegel Creative Coatings which makes eco-friendly water-based organic coatings for many of the world’s iconic drinks and perfumery brands.
To run its glassworks Dekorglass also hired 50 new employees to join the existing staff of 139.
Musing on his company’s evolution from glass decorator to a full service supplier of glass packaging for luxury brands, Mr Chojak believes that “Having the alternative is always a good option. Most of our customers enjoyed the fact that right now we are able to provide decoration and the glass. This helped also gain new customers, whose marketing plan does not include decoration but are more focused on better glass quality.”
Over a year on from its official reopening as a Dekorglass business, and managed by Director Anna Majewska, the Tur glassworks has three automatic glass forming machines with single, double and triple gob systems, enabling two glass containers with different shapes but similar weights and heights to be produced at the same time, a benefit that significantly lowers production costs and speeds up the whole process.
“The heart of our glassworks is its tank furnace,” states Mr Chojak. “It has an innovative heat recovery system which enables us to heat air needed for gas combustion [with] a reversing system, which makes it possible to evacuate combustion gases from the furnace by means of non-catalytic removal of nitric oxides after the injection of ammonia or urea."
“Glass quality is very important to us, so we have five of the latest generation, quality monitoring machines,” adds Mr Chojak.
Initially the Dekorglass glassworks was producing bottles mainly for vodka, however in response to the burgeoning popularity of gin and whisky it released a number of standard bottle shapes (‘Roku’, ‘Nana’, ‘Gora’ and ‘Mida’) suitable for various types of beverages. The company was keen to start co-operation with customers who bottle their drinks in dedicated containers for a specific product, and to engage clients that it had previously been working with in a decoration capacity. Dekorglass now produces glass bottles for renowned brands such as Heaven’s Door, Lasipullo, Loimu, Lahua, Bocian and Żubrówka.
“For glass production if one would like to order one of our standard bottles, minimum order quantity is one pallet,” advises Mr Chojak. “Bespoke bottle production is also very much possible, but then minimal order quantities are being calculated by our glass specialists. We always want to find an agreement between what the customer wants and what we can offer.”