Ecommerce has increased the demand for new shipping packages, and TricorBraun is ready for the shift.
It’s not often we get to revisit the site of a great story for an update. BOSS spoke with TricorBraun, an industry leader in design and supply of rigid packaging, over a year ago to learn about the company’s rapid growth through acquisitions.
But today’s story is a little different. With a new COO and CEO at the helm, the company broke down its current growth strategy—acquisitions still play a part—and how current and future strategy shifts and implementations will continue to support TricorBraun’s enduring legacy.
“No matter what end category our customers are in, we work in each marketplace to define industry insight,” said Mark O’Bryan, COO of TricorBraun. “We turn that insight into the capabilities they need to sell more of their products. It’s about helping our customers grow their product line knowing that we have put our customers on the right cost and performance platform to make more money.
“We continue to focus on that segment approach whether it’s food and beverage, personal care, or nutraceutical. Our customers know that we have expertise across all of their products, not just with the bottle or cap, but the design, the decorating, the supply chain, the manufacturing platform, the entire packaging solution.”
New Operations Management
TricorBraun was already strong from an operational standpoint before O’Bryan took the position of COO. His goal is to continue the brand’s legacy of operational excellence while at the same time grow the operations and supply chain team and its technological capabilities to in turn grow the organization.
“Linking the right suppliers with the right solutions they are selling their customers is our mission,” he shared, before giving an example.
“In the nutraceutical world, for instance, this means aligning with their customers’ needs. Customers don’t want their scoop to fall into their jug of protein powder, they want it to sit right on top so consumers don’t have to touch the product. We need to have the suppliers with the best fit ready for when we are in front of the customer. We need to know the right manufacturer that can support the customers’ requirements.”
To do this, TricorBraun provides its salespeople—internally referred to as packaging consultants—with segment insight and solutions to ensure those packaging professionals know everything they need to about its customers’ marketplaces.
“We want to delight our customers,” O’Bryan continued. “Our packaging consultants become part of our customers’ team. Our purpose is to get them what they need, when they need it.”
One of TricorBraun’s philosophies is to have the best people in the best place. Packaging consultants are the keystone to the company’s impressive ascent, and the team is growing. When searching for the perfect applicants, TricorBraun looks in two places.
“We look within the industry for people with a strong level of packaging knowledge. When our packaging consultants are working with a customer, they are selling value. It’s important to have a deep understanding of that value,” he shared.
“But for our most recent round of hiring we looked outside the industry. We were more focused on salespeople who have demonstrated great sales skill—people who like to go out and hunt for business. We’ve been working behind the scenes to help them learn the packaging industry, so they have a strong support network to get them up to speed fast.”
Those new employees come in with excellent sales skills, and the company supplies them with support resources on the supply chain aspect as well as the company’s design capabilities. Sounds like a winning model.
More Winning Strategies
This increase in TricorBraun’s employee base has been to support the company’s continued acquisitional growth. The organization acquired four companies this year, and O’Bryan shared it continues to look for more.
“We get a lot out of our acquisition strategy,” he commented. “Companies in industries similar to ours, selling with the tools they have today, benefit too. After the acquisition, we provide them with even more tools, as well as supply chain expertise they may not have had, to allow their salespeople to be even more effective.”
Salbro, a distribution company for rigid packaging in Toronto and Montreal has expanded the gateway for TricorBraun in the Eastern Canadian market. By combining supply chain capabilities, customer relations, and Salbro’s skill in its specific market, TricorBraun sees the opportunity to grow its footprint. Salbro also brings rapid prototyping manufacturing to the table, giving TricorBraun the ability to validate concepts for customers before they move onto the finished product.
Continental Packaging Associates, its fourth acquisition of the year, is on the smaller side compared to Salbro. However, it packs a punch. The 70-year-old brand has long-standing relationships with a lot of great companies in the Eastern Pennsylvania market, bringing enormous value despite its smaller size.
“Both acquisitions are part of niches that bring a lot to the party for TricorBraun helping us support more customers,” O’Bryan shared.
New Tech Approaches
While building TricorBraun’s capabilities to work with big companies via packaging consultants, he also knows that owners of younger businesses may not want or need a salesperson to encourage a sale. In response to this, the company has expanded its ecommerce site—Packaging Options Direct—to showcase TricorBraun’s offerings.
“We have found that a number of customers who are a part of a smaller business prefer to go online, find what they need, and buy it without the help of a salesperson.
“It’s an efficient manner for us to handle smaller customers. It’s a growing vehicle for us, one that our 25-warehouse network supplies.”
Robot Friendly Packages
Outside of its new ecommerce approach, TricorBraun is pursuing a nuanced research and development strategy to create products that future technology can handle.
At a recent conference, O’Bryan had the opportunity to talk to the Head of Supply Chain for Amazon. He suggested that while retailers don’t want their ecommerce package to be different from its retail package, Amazon wants that package to be robot friendly.
While robots continue to learn—and experts continue to teach them—the difference between flexible and rigid packaging and how to handle the two, packaging design companies like TricorBraun need to work to create packages that robots in the supply chain can handle.
“As more companies are working with platforms like Amazon Pantry, we need to define what robot friendly means, and work on solutions to support our customers,” he said.
Different Packaging Solutions
While TricorBraun is an industry leader in rigid packaging, the company has expanded into the flexible packaging market through the acquisition of Taipak. This addition has several benefits outside of preparing packages for robots.
“You can ship a lot more product on a truck when flexible packaging is used,” O’Bryan stated. “More packaging per truck means it’s more sustainable.”
TricorBraun is also working with customers on innovative capabilities to migrate some applications from glass to plastic.
“Glass doesn’t always ship well individually, and in the world of ecommerce, that’s bad. With more boxes showing up on people’s doorsteps, a move towards plastic is almost necessary.”
This does pose a challenge for industry players like TricorBraun, especially in hot-fill capacities.
“Pasta sauce, for example, is hot filled,” he shared. “It comes out at 180 degrees and goes into its packaging. As of right now, the only thing that can support that is glass.
“We’re currently working with partners to continue to have the fresh seal metal closures, but on a plastic jar that can support a hot fill.
As TricorBraun continues to identify market trends the world around, expect for the brand to continue to lead its industry. We can’t wait to see what they do next.
TricorBraun is the industry leader in design and supply of rigid packaging: glass and plastic packaging including bottles, closures, sprayers, and more. With a over century of experience and talented, committed team members worldwide, we leverage our extensive capabilities in the creation of every packaging solution for our customers.