Thermoformer of the Year - 2016: Ian Strachan, ToolVu

Current Winner


Ian Strachan entered the thermoforming industry when he became General Manager of the Elvinco Group of Companies in 1971, where he was involved with the development of new technologies in thermoforming, injection molding, blow molding and extrusion. Prior to his appointment, he worked in specialty high-tech metal production and with the South African Mint to upgrade and implement its production management and control systems.

From 1974 to 1988, Strachan served as Managing Director for Nampak Mono Containers, a thermoforming and steam chest molding company. Nampak was the largest diversified packaging group in the world at the time. Strachan went on to manage several subsidiary companies that specialized in thermoforming and extrusion, where he developed several new packaging processes that are still being sold in those markets to this day. With the support of an old friend, Frank Nissel, Mono Containers developed multi-layer “hi-tech” barrier packaging in the first applications outside of the US. Strachan was also the first to introduce CPET packaging outside of the US, with the blessing of a previous Thermoformer of the Year, George Lueken, who invented the process.

Strachan also developed thermoformed in mold labeling (T-IML) and several other products for Unilever in the mid-1980s, which later won the Unilever International Award for most innovative packaging technology in thermoforming.

From 1988 to 1992, Strachan served as CEO and Deputy Chairman of the Sun Packaging Group, one of the largest packaging firms in South Africa. An international company with operations in Japan and the US, these companies led the way in the development of biopolymers and processes that are still used in these industries.

Strachan later formed MGA Southern Africa Pty. Ltd. and MGA Inc., an international consulting firm specializing in technology and process improvement in the packaging and thermoforming industries. More recently, he acquired ToolVu, LLC, which offers a game-changing process management system that monitors what is happening in a thermoforming mold in real-time.