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02.04.2024
Latest News KM News and People / Blog

Mike scales the heights to lead new sales growth in the US

Candidates don't need to be qualified in avalanche risk assessment, archery hunting, and scuba diving, along with an interest in astrophysics, to join the KM Packaging team. But it probably helps.

Just ask Mike Aho, who joined the business in October 2023.

Mike was attracted to KM Packaging by the company's reputation in the packaging industry and the "amazing team of professionals" he found throughout the organisation. And what sealed the deal for him was "the company's superior knowledge in performance films".

He also feels it was the perfect time for KM to establish a business entity based in the US. Mike said: "KM has been in the US market for nearly 40 years operating from the UK head office without permanent boots on the ground.

“Establishing a dedicated North American locally based team shows our commitment to ensuring we address our customers' needs 24/7 while being able to maximise further business growth."

Dedicated to meeting customers' needs

Mike's previous experience as an Ops Manager in various food plants uniquely positions him to understand the particular needs of today's food production professionals. Also, with over 25 years in performance films development and sales, Mike is well qualified to identify and resolve gaps in the packaging supply chain.

His short-term aim is to "fully understand KM's product offerings and spot new opportunities". In the longer term, Mike's vision includes "selling KM's established range and identifying bespoke packaging market needs to drive incremental sales volumes".

Mike said: "We are coming out of a two-year period where shipping container pricing and availability were unpredictable. The US market is nervous about counting on a supply chain that relies on these containers.

"Through all the disruption, KM continued to reliably supply its US customer base. Every member of the KM team owned that responsibility.

"Our focus is on providing solutions through our exceptional lidding film products and a committed team who are dedicated to meeting customers' business needs.

"Now, with our additional business based in the US, we can even better cater to all our customers' unique requirements."

Mike outlined how the US business mirrors the overall goals and strategies of KM Packaging. He said: "Despite differing customer support needs in the US, the company values of trust, ownership, passion, and innovation remain core to our work ethic, and we are a state-side extension of the UK-based family.

"We will deliver custom solutions for the US market that comply with local food safety regulations and developed within our BRCGS-certified line-up of films. The focus is on establishing responsive and agile supply chain models to meet customer needs.”

Mike also anticipates a pivotal role for the US business in the broader success of KM Packaging. He said: "Films developed for the US market may well find applications across the globe."

Spirit of innovation

When not working with customers and developing new business, Mike has a variety of outside interests. They range from team sports and outdoor activities, including recreational diving and archery hunting in the Rocky Mountains, to a passion for reading about WWII history, astrophysics, inspirational true stories, and biographies.

He also enjoys relaxing with his wife, Ginger, in their mountain condo in Colorado. Mike revealed he is involved with the Colorado 10th Mountain Division hut system, a programme started for WWII winter mountain survival and military training.

He said: "It is now a series of huts located roughly at 10,000 feet that sleep 10 to 20 people who reach them by 'skinning' up the mountains. The access trails are all non-motorised and are between two and seven miles long.

"Fortunately, I am Avy 1 certified, which includes basic first aid, avalanche risk assessment, snow science, group decision-making dynamics, and avalanche recovery."

Mike's diverse and accomplished business and personal life epitomises the spirit of innovation, dedication, and adaptability within the KM team. His original attraction to the company was rooted in its excellent reputation and the exceptional team of professionals. It's no surprise he is now successfully leading our new business in North America.

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