Aurora, Colo.-based All Packaging Co. has shaped itself around the niche of value-added accounts - customers who demand high levels of quality and have a lot of complexity in their work. The company, based in a Denver suburb, has won more than 130 design awards in the last 13 years alone, positioning itself as one of the top structural design folding carton converters.
The company touts itself as providing quicker turnaround and a higher quality product than anything produced in Asia. To do that, All Packaging has invested heavily in equipment to fulfill that aim. "There isn't much modern technology we haven't implemented," All Packaging President Ken Pepper says.
All Packaging has won more than 130 awards for its design ingenuity. Vice President of Creative Services John Chaisson uses a variety of mediums to complete the designs, like electrical and mechanical wiring that moves this carousel around.
Despite the waning business climate, All Packaging has managed to continue its trend of increasing sales. Sales were up 12 percent this year, down from the increases of 20 percent for each of the last two years. "We continue to grow very consistently," Pepper says. The company's diverse clients give the company some security - if they lose one customer, it won't destroy the business.
All Packaging primarily ships to the Western United States and Mexico. The corridor to Mexico is growing rapidly for the company. Last year, All Packaging lost one of its biggest customers to China. While it definitely hurt the company, All Packaging was still able to grow. Pepper credits that to the company's goal of gaining work that generally can't be exported - complex, intricate, structurally difficult cartons.
All Packaging was able to craft packaging magic for the Garden Gigglys line of boxed plants. The recycled paperboard boxes with gabled tops "perf" off to allow the flowers to grow, and fairy wings and feet pop out for added effect.
"One of our largest customers has 90 different SKUs while the other largest has around 75 SKUs and the copy changes all the time," Pepper says.
Before Pepper bought All Packaging in 1984, he was involved in his family's meat business. All Packaging is the result of a merger between two smaller folding carton businesses, both established in the 1940s. The company was located in an old postal annex building in downtown Denver, which was inefficient to say the least, Pepper says. The company moved to its current 65,000-square-foot facility in 1990.
The Ferris wheel was designed as part of a client display based on an amusement park theme. The wheel itself is constructed of interlocking identical die pieces. The Ferris wheel, which uses no glue, is made with boxboard and wooden dowel rods.
Today, All Packaging has 80 employees who operate the plant six days a week, working 13-hour shifts, which has helped the company retain skilled employees, says Manufacturing Manager Patricia Peterson.
The company has a unique format for its operations. It has three manufacturing or production managers, each focused on a different area of expertise. James Caro and Terrence Price are the other manufacturing managers. The company has used this style for four years. Peterson says All Packaging has developed more because of this team approach. "It allows us a lot of creativity," she says. "It lets us concentrate on the areas each of us is good at."
Supplying the Suppliers
The management approach also allows the managers to regularly attend training sessions and visit customers or suppliers to view the latest technology without the worries of leaving the plant unattended.
The company uses only internally generated employees - nearly everyone in the company started at the bottom and worked their way through the ranks. For example, Chief Technology Officer Curtis Hilsinki started at All Packaging 12 years ago as an unskilled laborer in the finishing department. He then worked in the die department, then became a structural designer before moving into the technology side of the company.
When the city of Phoenix, Ariz., decided to construct a baseball stadium to house the new Arizona Diamondbacks, the owners hoped that the prediction "If you build it, they will come," would be true. The fans came, and the Diamondbacks wanted to say thanks. All Packaging Co. was asked to create a limited edition collector's rendition of the new ballpark before it was even built. The company designed a scale model from the architect's blueprints. The package, which holds an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball, won the National Paperbox Association's best of show award in 1999.
"All Packaging gives opportunities to any employee who wants to grow," Hilsinki says.
The company has a very low turnover rate with employees averaging 10 years of service. "That speaks to the fact that they like working here and we have a lot of loyalty to each other," Pepper says.
"There are constantly new ideas being conceived and shaped and increased growth and upgrades," Peterson says. Along with that expansion comes amplified employee training. "We invest a lot in training," she says. "Ken knows the benefits of having the newest technology and the experienced, trained personnel to use it."
Kryptonics' rollerblade replacement wheels' original packaging was a plastic clamshell, which buyers could see but not touch. All Packaging designed a clever plastic locking skewer that enables the buyer to touch and feel the wheel.
"We've gained the reputation of a quality (packaging) house," Peterson says.
Due to consistent growth, All Packaging has been able to buy the new equipment it has wanted, including its new 40-inch, six-color Mitsubishi printing press to join its older six-color Mitsubishi press. The press can print specialty hybrid inks with inline UV coating.
The new press has conventional and UV dryers and is able to cure ink after each unit. At 12,000 sheets per hour, it speeds up All Packaging's turnaround time. All of the company's business is custom just-in-time work, says Manufacturing Manager Caro, a 22-year industry veteran.
The company crafts hundreds of structural ideas, some at the customers' request and some to show potential customers what a difference All Packaging can create, including this Liquid Gold "log" house, created for the company's anniversary.
All Packaging recently implemented Amtech's E-Motion system, giving its customers 24-hour access to a database, which allows them to view the status of their jobs, specifications on the account and to track the shipping information.
All Packaging customers can proof designs online via its Web site, which is an enormous benefit in the shrinking global marketplace. "It has streamlined the entire design process," Hilsinki says. Streamlining is a fundamental part of the business. All Packaging keeps an extensive flow chart documenting each step that goes into creating a box. The objective of the chart is to eliminate handoffs, thus "seeing what and where we can do things better," Hilsinki says.
One of All Packaging's biggest customers is located in Japan, with the marketing office in California and the manufacturing facility in Mexico. All Packaging used to send a proof to each location by FedEx and it would take a week to get an approval. Now it can be posted on the Web site and approval occurs within 24 hours.
All the machinery and software has improved All Packaging capabilities and allowed the converter to easily implement the creative design ideas of John Chaisson, All Packaging's vice president of creative services.
Chaisson is the mastermind behind the majority of All Packaging's numerous design awards. Chaisson, who has been with the company for 13 years, was trained at the Art Institute of Colorado. Before Chaisson joined the All Packaging staff, the company had won only five design awards in its company history. Since he arrived, the company has won more than 130 awards, including four National Paperbox Association (NPA) best of show awards. All Packaging also won a best of show for structural design at the International Paperbox Congress in 2000.
Chaisson's most recent best of show win was at this year's NPA Design Competition for the Glominerals cosmetics package manufactured for Caleel-Hayden, LLC.
Chaisson, along with another structural designer, crafts hundreds of structural ideas, some at the customers' request and some to show potential customers what a difference All Packaging can create. The company has an impressive portfolio of designs, intended for mass production for some of the biggest name brands and some one-of-a-kind, one-time-only creations for smaller firms.
The designs are not just paperboard - Chaisson uses other mediums, including E-flute inserts. Chaisson's attention to detail shapes such intricate designs as a four-foot movable Ferris wheel, made entirely of paperboard and wooden dowel rods.
All of the company's business is custom just-in-time work, which requires a rapid turnaround time. The All Packaging design team, headed by John Chaisson, meets with the customer at the onset of every project, developing intimate knowledge of customer's goals and the product marketplace.
The All Packaging team meets with the customer at the onset of every project, developing intimate knowledge of customer's goals and the product marketplace.
Chaisson's renowned expertise and the company's relentless technological investments distinguishes All Packaging from other folding carton companies.