October 27, 2008
by Andrew Joseph
In the 21st century economy, dealing with low-cost, low-wage offshore competition really comes down to two choices: keep doing business as usual until you lose your shirt; or roll up your sleeves and use everything that the latest automation technology has to offer to defend your turf.
By any measure, Archetype Bag Makers Ltd. definitely falls into the latter camp.
Opened up four years ago just north of Toronto in Markham, Ont., the upstart company wears the distinction of being the only North American-based manufacturer of upscale, branded retail paperbags used by shoppers to haul home their loot after a successful shopping expedition.
With other domestic producers of such bags having all but vanished years ago due to the cutthroat, profit-killing pricing in the global marketplace, the company’s president and majority owner Mark Campbell is under no illusions about the enormity of the competitive challenge his company faces.
“Though it is hardly a new trend for businesses to look overseas for cheap manufacturing labor—witness, how we have utilized Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan in the past, and now China and India—the bagmaking industry pretty much disappeared from this continent,” Campbell told Automate Now during a recent visit to Archetype’s lively 45-employee, 17,000-square-foot production facility.
“But we decided to see if we could do something about that,” states Campbell, who is putting a lot of faith in the Canadian consumers’ growing environmental conscience and awareness to give his company an important marketing and competitive edge in the domestic marketplace.
“Our bags are 100-percent recyclable, and we even offer decorative handles that are made of paper,” points out Campbell. “We print on paper that is 30-percent post-consumer recycled and, in addition, we can even provide 100-percent post-consumer paper that will print beautifully and will still deliver fairly strong carrying capabilities.
“We trust that companies are thinking about our environment and are keen to recycle wherever possible,” says Campbell, adding that Archetype only uses paper that has been certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) as being derived from trees harvested in “responsibly managed” forestlands.
“Sustainability is very important,” extols Campbell, “and we do whatever we can to deliver products that meet well-managed environmental practices.
“By producing bags in North America for the North American clientele,” he adds, “we are also greatly reducing a company’s carbon footprint—as compared to having these bags shipped to clients halfway around the world.”