A transition from commercial printing to package converting is a common enough story in the Canadian package manufacturing industry, but not that many companies out there can boast the kind of success and satisfaction with such a move as folks at the Milton, Ont.-based Empress Packaging Inc.
Employing eight people at a modest-sized, 6,000-square-foot facility located about a 30-minute drive west of Toronto, the 10-year-old company offers compelling proof that even in today’s volume-obsessed manufacturing world, good things can still be found in small packages.
Jointly owned by business partners Jeff Herrington, Claudette Herrington and James Virgin, the company was formed in 1998 through a merger of Virgin’s graphics shop and the Herringtons’ printing company—with the two entities quickly proving themselves to be much more than just a sum of its parts.
“One day we just realized that the growing balance of our business was now in packaging,” recalls director of sales and marketing Jeff Herrington, “and so we’ve done all the footwork to make ourselves experienced, knowledgeable and motivated about packaging.”
Adds director of graphics and technology Virgin: “Jeff has been the main compass in the direction we have taken towards packaging … and it’s really been paying off for us.
Describing Empress as a “packaging specialist” that uses two key strategic partnerships with third-party manufacturers to supply highly innovative flexible packaging and paperboard products to a growing range of customers in the nutraceutical, snack-food, pet-food and cosmetics industries.
“A call to us gives you access to virtually every packaging solution available,” Herrington asserts.
Focusing primarily on rotogravure, offset and digital printing technologies, Empress markets a fairly diverse array of labels in either rollstock or flats; a full range of film pouches, including side- and bottom-gusseted styles, plow-bottomed, zippered, shrinksleeves, etc.; and POP (point-of-purchase) boxboard displays.
Herrington notes the company has been able to build itself a fast-growing and lucrative niche in the nutraceutical industry—particularly in the bodybuilding supplements segment—offering foil packaging for the so-called ‘energy bars’ and the full range of plastic jars, tubs, pouches and labels used in the packaging of whey protein mixes and other powder-mix dietary supplements.
“I’ve found historically that the nutraceutical industry had problems with packaging, that it looked too ‘artsy-crafty’ and not professional enough,” states Herrington, citing a recent example of helping boost a tea company’s sales by replacing its old packages, essentially glorified zip-lock bags, with a new, contemporary packaging design.