Ingenuity Defined

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Ingenuity Defined

July 31, 2007 - 21:00


Utah Paper Box (UPB) looks unassuming from the outside of its urban Salt Lake City headquarters, but once you see the skillful, award-winning, multi-substrate boxes the company makes, you know it's a first-class operation. The board converter manufactures rigid boxes, folding cartons and also does litho lamination. Most of its award-winning boxes incorporate a combination of those substrates to help this fourth-generation company have $30 million in sales in 2007.

 UPB is prepared for its future after President Paul Keyser (left) retires. Paul's son Steve, Mike Salazar,  and Teri Jensen (left to right) are poised to lead the company to its next great achievements.
UPB is prepared for its future after President Paul Keyser (left) retires. Paul's son Steve, Mike Salazar, and Teri Jensen (left to right) are poised to lead the company to its next great achievements.

Changing the Path

UPB's history starts in 1914, when it was Utah Label and Box. In 1922, George Keyser, grandfather of current President Paul Keyser, and his brothers purchased the company. In 1923 they changed the name to Utah Paper Box, reflecting the change in what the company was producing. At that time, the company was producing 100 percent rigid boxes.

George's son, James (Paul's father), took over the business in the early 1950s and in 1965, Paul Keyser joined into the family business. At that time, UPB's product mix was 85 percent rigid boxes and 15 percent folding carton. Paul's mission was to grow the folding carton side of the business, and he's since met the goal: The company's current mix is 85 percent folding carton (including litho-laminating) and 15 percent rigid box.

The fun part of UPBs business is the specialty boxes, says Paul Keyser. That includes cosmetics, like these intricate diecut boxes for LaVanilla Cosmetics.
The fun part of UPBs business is the specialty boxes, says Paul Keyser. That includes cosmetics, like these intricate diecut boxes for LaVanilla Cosmetics.

Paul's son Steve joined UPB nine years ago, after spending 10 years with a California division of International Paper. Steve, who is vice president of sales, has grown the litho lam part of the business. "He is fourth-generation, and his charge is to see that it goes into fifth-generation," Paul says.

In addition to Steve, UPB has a strong management team consisting of Mike Salazar, vice president of operations, and Teri Jensen, vice president of finance. "We've got a great succession plan in place," Paul says.

Company loyalty runs strong, even in non-family members. For example, former Vice President Wayne Sanford worked at the company for 60 years, starting in the plant at 17 and retiring at age 77.

UPB and its equipment suppliers have a great working relationship, President Paul Keyser says. Especially when it comes to manufacturers' technology regarding makereadies and one-pass solutions.
UPB and its equipment suppliers have a great working relationship, President Paul Keyser says. Especially when it comes to manufacturers' technology regarding makereadies and one-pass solutions.

"We have virtually no turnover past entry level," Paul says. "If you stay at UPB for five years, it is likely you will stay for the rest of your career. It is a very family-oriented atmosphere, with at least 10 second-generations working at the company and three fourth-generations."

UPB has a partnership with Wasatch Container, which produces point-of-purchase, foam and corrugated boxes. Paul Keyser and Wasatch President Jerry Fritsch own 67 percent of the company, with the rest owned by the employees. With the Wasatch partnership, UPB truly can offer all packaging needs to its customers, from the foam inserts in the folding cartons to the corrugated shipping boxes.

The divisions are split into five different buildings, which total 250,000 sq ft. The printing building is in downtown Salt Lake, and the others are in the outskirts of the city. According to Paul, the plan is to eventually have all operations under one roof. They have started on that mission by purchasing a larger building on which they can expand. UPB has more than 210 employees, and operates five days a week on three shifts.

UPB's specialty is intricate packages, making the most of its multi-substrate capabilities. The company designed hybrid packages for Starbucks' gourmet  coffee line, Black Apron.
UPB's specialty is intricate packages, making the most of its multi-substrate capabilities. The company designed hybrid packages for Starbucks' gourmet coffee line, Black Apron.

Packaging Makes the Sale

UPB specializes in high-end packaging with elements such as UV coatings, stamping, and rigid windows. The company's biggest clients are in the confections and food business, but UPB also serves important customers in automotive, spirits, cosmetics, and medical businesses. None of its clients are more than 10 percent of UPB's business, however.

"We have to mass-print commodity boxes to pay the bills, but the fun part is the specialty boxes," Paul says.

And it is in the candy sector where UPB really shines. "That's where we can sell the bells and whistles," Paul says.

UPB's oldest client is Sweet's Candy Co., a Salt Lake City manufacturer that has been with the company since 1914. The two companies recently collaborated on an updated taffy package. Replacing a plastic bag, the new, patented carton is designed for unique product visibility and market exposure by replicating the "twist" end of a packaged candy paper wrapper.

The company has invested in several pieces of machinery recently, including a Bobst 145 Alpina gluer (the first in the U.S., according to UBP).
The company has invested in several pieces of machinery recently, including a Bobst 145 Alpina gluer (the first in the U.S., according to UBP).

Earlier this year in the North American Paperbox Association's Packaging Showcase, UPB won the Lorne Ballance Award for Best Folding Carton with the "Sweet's Twist" carton for Sweet's Candy.

The gourmet taffy boxes also ranked as one of Communication Arts magazine's best designs of 2006. Each year, more than 50,000 packages are submitted to Communication Arts' annual design competition, with only 47 packages awarded the year's best new consumer packages.

UPB makes many intricate packages, making the most of its multi-substrate capabilities. The company designed hybrid packages for Starbucks' gourmet coffee line, Black Apron.

"This is the case where packaging makes the sale," Steve says. The packaging had been redesigned, he adds, while the product itself stayed the same — and sales have dramatically increased.

In 2005, the National Paperbox Association started recognizing "hybrid" boxes in its Packaging Showcase competition. UPB won the NPA's first best-of-show award for a combination package, incorporating rigid box and folding carton technologies. The Starbucks Black Apron entry was "a 'work of art' that defined the coffee inside and provides great shelf presentation," the judges said.

UPB has a strong partnership with MAN Roland, with UPB having three of its presses, including its latest, a MAN Roland 707 Plus. The press is an eight-color, 41-inch press, designed for fast speeds.
UPB has a strong partnership with MAN Roland, with UPB having three of its presses, including its latest, a MAN Roland 707 Plus. The press is an eight-color, 41-inch press, designed for fast speeds.

This year, for the first time, UPB entered the Paperboard Packaging Council awards competition, hoping to win a prize for one of its three entries. Instead, it won awards for all three: Its LaVanilla Cosmetics won a gold award in the cosmetics category; its Sweet's Twist taffy box won a gold award in the confections category; and its Indulgence for Lincoln Snacks won a silver award in the snack category.

Not Just Cosmetic

The company has a philosophy of re-investment that shows in its newly purchased machinery. Seventy percent of the profits are reinvested, and 30 percent is spent on profit sharing. The company is a 100 percent profit-sharing plant. "It's equal to everyone in the company — even the truck drivers have complete ownership," Paul says.

UPB has won dozens of awards for its packaging. President Paul Keyser (left) and Vice President of Sales Steve Keyser show off the company's numerous certificates.
UPB has won dozens of awards for its packaging. President Paul Keyser (left) and Vice President of Sales Steve Keyser show off the company's numerous certificates.

"We have strong partnerships with our customers, and equally strong partnerships with our equipment and board suppliers," he adds. "We have supported our equipment suppliers in their new technology, especially those that apply to quick makereadies and one-pass solutions."

Within the last few years, UPB has purchased printing presses, diecutters, gluers, a litho laminator, Emmeci rigid box makers, and auto equipment for all the gluers.

UPB has a full-service prepress operations to help offer its customers a complete package.
UPB has a full-service prepress operations to help offer its customers a complete package.

When looking to invest in a new press, the company desired the flexibility of using different inks, inline perfecting, and maximum drying capabilities — and to do it all in one pass. UPB consulted three press manufacturers before deciding to work with MAN Roland on the final configuration.

The MAN Roland 707 Plus is an eight-color, 41-in. press, designed for high-speed, unitized sheetfed printing. It has UV docking stations after every print unit. The company also added several additional lamps and a drying tower.

The candy sector is where UPB really shines. "That's where we can sell the bells and whistles," President Paul Keyser says.
The candy sector is where UPB really shines. "That's where we can sell the bells and whistles," President Paul Keyser says.

The specifications allow UPB to produce a wide gamut of upscale packaging. Consumer electronics, cosmetics and high-end confectionery packaging are all produced on the 707. It can print using UV inks, hybrid inks, flexographic inks, and regular IR inks.

The company also invested in an Automatan litho-laminator, a Bobst 56-in. blanker, a Bobst 145 Alpina gluer (the first in the U.S., according to Paul), a Steuer 41-in. stamping press, a Bobst 50-in. stamping press, a Heiber Schroder pick and place window machine, and various Bobst enhancements for feeding and packing the gluers. It also purchased five Emmeci rigid box making machines, which streamline the rigid box operations.

UPB collaborated with one of its oldest clients, Sweet's Candy Co., on an updated taffy package, which is patented and has won several design awards.
UPB collaborated with one of its oldest clients, Sweet's Candy Co., on an updated taffy package, which is patented and has won several design awards.

The company also operates a Crathern and Smith loose wrap machine. "We're one of the few left who still run one," Paul admits.

The new Steuer hot foil press moves forward the company's Kaizen goals by reducing waste by 30 percent, in addition to running jobs quickly.

UPB started its Kaizen journey four years ago, and started implementing it in the gluing and printing departments. The company is now implementing it in the diecutting and stamping departments. By the end of the year, the entire folding carton division will have undergone Kaizen. "Our mantra for the next few years is to become the low-cost, high-quality producer," Paul says.

UPB has implemented Kaizen in its gluing and printing departments. The company is now implementing it in the diecutting and stamping departments.
UPB has implemented Kaizen in its gluing and printing departments. The company is now implementing it in the diecutting and stamping departments.

UPB has implemented the dashboard approach to measuring efficiency, and is looking at investing in robots at the end of the gluers to be more efficient. "Our watchword is now to be the best in the plant," Paul says. "Especially now that we have the best equipment for our associates to do their jobs.

"We don't want to do just cosmetic Kaizen — it is a whole cultural change," he says.

For future growth, UPB is continuing the pursuit of Kaizen and moving all manufacturing under one roof. "We have the equipment," Paul says. "We now need to run it better and faster."