Based out of Richardson, Texas with two additional manufacturing facilities in Dallas, TX and Conroe, TX, General Packaging Corporation is a multi-purpose packaging material provider producing containers and boxes manufactured from various materials including corrugated fiberboard, wood, plywood and foam plank. All products can be integrated to meet the needs of industrial and air freight requirements.
General Packaging Corporation has survived the test of time in the arena of family-owned businesses in the United States. Not an easy feat when considering that fifty percent of family-owned businesses in the nation fail during the transition from second to third generation leadership.
Now into its third generation, General Packaging Corporation is proving to be a rare exception, largely due to the fact that it acknowledges the need to change its business structure in a quickly evolving niche industry without losing sight of its greatest asset: its customers.
“A third generation business that’s going on sixty years is a rarity these days,” affirms James Brown IV, General Packaging Corporation’s executive vice president. It was James’ grandfather, James Brown II and his wife who founded the company in the late 1950s after realizing the need for an efficient, quality packaging provider in the Dallas, Texas market.
“We are family. We have common values. We share a common vision of what we want the business to be and become,” says James. “We’ve been blessed with a steady hand on the rudder, so to speak, for many decades. That longevity and consistency has helped us.”
Although the company originated as a distributor, it evolved into manufacturing as the marketplace presented different opportunities. By listening to what customers want and by keeping a watchful eye on the market, “our product breadth grew over time,” explains James.
What truly sets the company apart from the rest is its ability to customize packaging products to customer specifications, providing a one-stop solution for any and all packaging requirements. “We’re super diversified.” From the very complex to the most simplified, the company ensures that customer scheduling demands and budget requirements are met, and all products are delivered with quality standards in mind.
The company has attracted and retained a loyal customer base over the decades by making the customer’s satisfaction paramount. “We have a customer base that really does not change very much. The core of our long-term customer group has been with us for many, many years.” James notes that in any given month, products are shipped to two hundred to three hundred customers across a variety of industries including automotive, defense, heavy industry and oil & gas.
James shares that as a custom manufacturer, General Packaging Corporation meets customer needs for their products and that, “We’ll build [packaging] specific to that customer. That part number in our system is linked to one customer. It’s not a generic part.”
He also adds that the company does not shy away from low-volume production realizing that, for businesses just starting out, production will be low at first, but eventually as the business grows General Packaging Corporation can, “scale with our customers. That’s what they like us to do… We look at it as a relationship. We service the whole scope of what they need.”
With a team dedicated to optimal quality, there is no room for error in the company’s operations. Quality control comes in the form of experience, rigorous testing and a keen eye for detail. A team of skilled design engineers, “work off of detailed drawings and schematics for all of our part numbers,” says James. “We’re not guessing at it. We own the drawing. We own the design and execute against that. Our approach is to couple quality materials with quality design. We basically match that formula up with our experienced plant management.”
He explains that often packaging consideration as part of a customer’s manufacturing process doesn’t get the attention it should or gets neglected entirely. “Packaging comes at the end of the process and as a result, we tend to have a lot of emergencies. As a business, we have to be super responsive. We found that our responsiveness and our willingness to have short lead time turnaround is one of the things that has made us successful over the years,” he says. “We tend to do whatever it takes to properly serve our customers.”
Word of mouth is an influential medium. American author and entrepreneur Brian Koslow noted that the greatest form of advertising is a positive reputation that travels fast. Research indicates that one customer who has a good relationship with a company will share that experience with at least seven to ten other people. Building a good reputation takes years to develop and can be lost with just one failed promise. General Packaging Corporation acknowledges that one of the most important issues for customers is on-time delivery and that supply chain management is crucial.
The company operates their own fleet of trucks with an excellent team of drivers rather than relying on outsourcing. “Having our own trucks allows us to quickly react to any customer needs.” In this way, it can control its deliveries ensuring that customers receive products when requested.
General Packaging Corporation also invests in new technology and systems that enable the monitoring of all trucks and ability to communicate with customers to alert them to when products are arriving. “By controlling [delivery] we can, more often than not, ensure on-time delivery,” affirms James. “We have old values but a new approach to business in the sense we’re getting more and more data-driven.”
It’s important to note that General Packaging Corporation sources almost all materials domestically which has its advantages in terms of cost benefits, quick deliveries and stimulation of the local economy. “Packaging products tend to be fairly localized. They’re not typically high dollar products,” says James. “It’s fairly low margin, so most of our customers are within a few hundred miles of the plant manufacturing the product. We’ve developed a series of trusted suppliers and have made an emphasis to source domestically, whenever we can.”
The company owns its Richardson and Dallas plants and the Conroe plant, north of Houston, is leased. However, that will soon change with plans to make an investment in the Houston market. “We feel really good about our prospects in the Houston market and have developed a great set of customers over the years,” adds James. “So we’re moving forward with building a new plant in the Conroe Business Park.”
To be built on ten acres of land, construction of the new plant is expected to begin within three to six months. “We’re getting really excited about it,” he says. “It will fill the need of our expansion plans.”
He says that the Texas market is a responsive market, and the company has been fortunate with the state’s strong economy. “We like our prospects and feel that the business has a great foundation. We know who we are; we know who our customers are and what they want.”