A Diamond In The Rough

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A Diamond In The Rough

February 28, 2003 - 20:00


When Harry Voss bought 54-year-old Diamond Packaging in 1965, it had seven employees and did $243,000 in annual sales. In 2002, Diamond Packaging reached $40 million in sales, had 250 full-time employees and up to 150 temporary workers in its contract packaging division.

The Voss Family: (from left, back row): son Eric, parents Harry and Gretchen Voss. (From left, front row): daughters Karla Gerrie, Kirsten Voss and Lisa Palvino.
The Voss Family: (from left, back row): son Eric, parents Harry and Gretchen Voss. (From left, front row): daughters Karla Gerrie, Kirsten Voss and Lisa Palvino.

In the 1960s, Diamond's clients were local bakeries and food suppliers. Now, the company's clients include global corporations such as The Gillette Co., Agfa Corp., Eastman Kodak, Polaroid, L'Oreal, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., and The 3M Co.

So how do you create a company that can sparkle the way Diamond does in today's market climate? The simplest tools are the best: attract and retain great employees, surround yourself with sharp management and buy the best machinery to make those award-winning boxes.

(Top): Diamond's philosophy is to invest in the future so the company recently bought this Bobst Sprintera diecutter.  (Bottom): Diamond produced this holiday packaging for one of its most prominent customers, L'Oreal USA/Matrix Essentials.
(Top): Diamond's philosophy is to invest in the future so the company recently bought this Bobst Sprintera diecutter. (Bottom): Diamond produced this holiday packaging for one of its most prominent customers, L'Oreal USA/Matrix Essentials.

A Family Affair

Voss went to work as a salesman for Maine-based Oxford Paper Co. for three years and attended the Manhattan School of Printing in New York City. Then in 1965, Voss and his wife Gretchen were visiting her parents at their cottage on Lake Ontario. A neighbor there owned Diamond.

"He told me he was planning on selling in time and offered me a part of the business. Then when he was ready, I would take over control," Voss says.



So Harry and Gretchen Voss bought the plant in 1965, becoming the fourth family to own the business.

The company moved into its current residence in Rochester, N.Y., a former Mead Corp. building, in 1978 and has constantly expanded since then. When the contract branch was formed in 1989, the 56,000-square-foot building across the street was purchased for the division. The plant is 90,000 square feet with a 20,000-square-foot warehouse.

There are five gluers to help Diamond keep up with its increased demand, including a new Bobst Alpina right-angle gluer.
There are five gluers to help Diamond keep up with its increased demand, including a new Bobst Alpina right-angle gluer.

While none of the Voss's four children planned on becoming involved in the family business, all now have management roles in the company. Eldest daughter Karla Gerrie is the national accounts manager and director of customer service, daughter Lisa Palvino is the director of marketing, son Eric is vice president of operations, and Kirsten is the executive vice president of Diamond Contract Manufacturing Division. Voss's wife Gretchen also is involved as the executive vice president of human resources and finance.

(Top): Diamond has one flexo press, an Arpeco Cartonmaster, but hopes to grow the flexo side of the business. (Bottom): The Steuer Foil-Jet rotary stamper allows Diamond to quickly apply more foil to its cartons, creating a unique package look.
(Top): Diamond has one flexo press, an Arpeco Cartonmaster, but hopes to grow the flexo side of the business. (Bottom): The Steuer Foil-Jet rotary stamper allows Diamond to quickly apply more foil to its cartons, creating a unique package look.

While the business has grown rapidly over the years, the simple philosophies have stayed the same. Voss and his management team, also known as his family, meet once a month to implement new goals and ideas. They also analyze the succession plan and decide what values the company wants to carry on through the generation. "As it transitions from Harry and Gretchen's business to our business, the dynamics change because of the different people involved," Palvino says. "We want to look to the future and find what works for us."

To help combat the typical factory atmosphere, Diamond Contract Manufacturing has its plant decorated with a tropical theme. The cement floor is painted as  the ocean and the break room is decorated as a tiki hut.
To help combat the typical factory atmosphere, Diamond Contract Manufacturing has its plant decorated with a tropical theme. The cement floor is painted as the ocean and the break room is decorated as a tiki hut.

Diamond has tried to keep some of that old-fashioned family atmosphere that the company was built on. Every year, the company has a family picnic and at holiday time, employees receive turkeys, celebrate with a company party, and receive mall gift certificates. "The personal relationships are just as important as the machinery," Palvino says. "The doors are always open."

DCM's services include product packaging in Diamond's finished cartons.
DCM's services include product packaging in Diamond's finished cartons.

Sparkling New

The way to stay on top and continue to grow, Voss says, is to constantly invest in the future. That means buying the newest technology. For example, Diamond just purchased a new Heidelberg Speedmaster CD 102 six-color press, a Bobst Sprintera diecutter and a Bobst Alpina right-angle gluer.

Creating a One-Stop-Shop
Creating a One-Stop-Shop

As part of its continuous training efforts, each machine operator is trained on different pieces of machinery. There also are awards given for safety records and Diamond and Diamond Contract Manufacturing are ISO 9002 compliant.

In addition to the machinery investment, the company recently has added a vice president of sales and marketing and another structural designer to fill the increasing needs for sales and design support. The company now has three structural designers and one graphic designer.

Globally Speaking
Globally Speaking

The company has been using computer-to-plate for two years with a Creo Trendsetter digital thermal platesetter. "We've had good repeatability, good dot quality and everything has been so sharp," says Dave Rydell, Diamond's director of technology and quality. Continuing its completely digital workflow, Diamond does its proofing with an Imation 4700 Rainbow digital color proofer and a MatchPrint analog color proofer.

The company uses a 64-inch Marquip sheeter and typically uses 75 to 80 percent recycled paperboard for its products.
The company uses a 64-inch Marquip sheeter and typically uses 75 to 80 percent recycled paperboard for its products.

The company has an in-plant relationship with Flint Ink Co., with a Flint technician on site, to assist with all ink specifications. One of the biggest challenges is printing on all the different substrates, Rydell says, including the standard paperboard, foilboard, transfer metallization board, miniflute, Forte™, and plastics. One of the company's most unique offerings is that Diamond prints on hot foil stamping. It uses a Bobst BMA stamper and a Steuer Foil-Jet rotary stamper. The Steuer technology allows for unprecedented speed and enables significantly more foil to be applied to the carton. Diamond offers foil stamping on SBS or recycled board rather than using foilboard, which reduces costs and lead times.

(Top): One of Diamond's biggest markets was the formerly booming photo market in Rochester, N.Y. While most of that market has moved to the Asian rim, Diamond still has customers such as The 3M Co. and Eastman Kodak. (Bottom): A new Heidelberg six-color press was added recently to Diamond's operations. The press features the CP2000 Center press control system.
(Top): One of Diamond's biggest markets was the formerly booming photo market in Rochester, N.Y. While most of that market has moved to the Asian rim, Diamond still has customers such as The 3M Co. and Eastman Kodak. (Bottom): A new Heidelberg six-color press was added recently to Diamond's operations. The press features the CP2000 Center press control system.

While flexo is not common in customer needs right now, Diamond is hoping to grow it. The company has one narrow web flexo press, an eight-color Arpeco Cartonmaster. It is primarily used for its great line color, particularly in pharmaceutical packaging. "We really hope to nurture the flexo side," Rydell says.

Its offset business is focused around the Heidelberg Speedmaster, a Komori Lithrone 40 five-color and two Man Roland 700 Series printers - a six-color and seven-color, each with a double coater.

With the tools in place, Voss is focused on the future and ready for the next generation of family to take over the new family business.