First impressions are highly important, and packaging is the first aspect of a product that creates a lasting impression on customers. Although companies realize that good product packaging has a positive impact on sales, they often don’t have the time or resources to invest in the expensive equipment needed for packaging or to build their facilities. For this reason, they rely on contract packaging companies with high-quality equipment and know-how to manage the packaging supply chain for them. In some cases, even the storage and distribution of products from a warehouse is done by contract packers (co-packers). Another prime reason organizations go to co-packers is when their product is sold in the US market, but the manufacturing facility is located outside of the US. In this case, it is more cost-efficient to ship products in bulk to a location near a remote point of sale and distribution for packaging. Also, for big giants like fortune 500 companies, the major bottleneck in the entire product lifecycle from manufacturing to the time it reaches the market lies in the packaging. This is because they have few packaging machines and multiple manufacturing setups. As a result, packaging a huge volume of finished products becomes a challenging endeavor. Such a scenario calls for co-packers that provide diversified solutions that meet customers’ specific requirements and suggest several different ideas/concepts concerning packaging to keep up with the market trends and demands.

One company that is doing exceptionally well in this regard by offering turnkey packaging solutions and dynamic expertise in contract packaging is Superior Pack Group (SPG). With over two decades of experience in this space, the company is on a mission to get brands’ products onto shelves quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively. Without customers having to invest in custom packaging equipment or the people to operate and maintain it, SPG helps start-ups, established companies, and those who need help with seasonal spikes or specialties through its full-service contract packaging. The company’s wide-ranging packaging services include bagging, sealing, wrapping, labeling, shrinking, sleeving, banding, consulting, and more. “Our entire focus is on helping clients achieve their packaging goals and build their brand’s image and identity,” states Joel Hirsch, director of sales at SPG.

How it all started?

SPG’s journey began in 1995, when Israel Schiff, the company’s CEO and president, had bought a cheese manufacturing company in Cornwall, New York. To accommodate the growing demand for packing the cheese back then, he purchased a large, sophisticated Hayssen machine instead of a small piece of equipment. Once the machine was deployed, he discovered that his company was using only five percent of the machine’s capacity for the items manufactured. It meant that the machine could pack more products than the company was producing. Thus, he decided to go ahead and let other companies take advantage of the machine’s packaging capacity. This is precisely how the vision and idea of contract packaging spurred. After understanding the contract packaging market thoroughly, he decided to let go of the original cheese manufacturing concept and step into the segment of contract packaging by utilizing his existing equipment and the facility. Today, 75 percent of SPG’s business is based on packaging candy and confectionery items.

Once the company started gaining prominence in contract packaging, they were determined to expand to advanced equipment to meet the candy industry’s packaging requirements.

Our entire focus is on helping clients achieve their packaging goals and build their brand’s image and identity

A Blessing in Disguise

All the operations and processes were running smoothly in the old carpet mill manufacturing plant converted into a contract packaging facility. The company kept growing, reaching new heights up until 2012. However, soon after, an unexpected turn of events disrupted the smooth sailing of the company. Hirsch recalls the horrific times when Hurricane Irene roared into New York’s East Coast. The Cornwall, north of New York City, quickly flooded, sending a wall of water into the Cornwall Industrial Park, where Superior Pack Group and several smaller businesses were located. Within just a few hours, the plant was four feet underwater and suffered major damage to the equipment and product inventory. The next morning Mr. Schiff and Hirsch had a daunting decision to make. They had few options ahead of them. They could either close the shop floor or move elsewhere and restart afresh. They concluded that the quickest way to get back to business was shifting to another facility after contemplating. That same afternoon, they found an empty plant in nearby Harriman, NY, to allow for future expansions, should they need it. The lease was signed.

The new facility however, had no necessary resources but electrical power. “No plumbing, no air conditioning to maintain temperatures for food products, no security, phone or computer connections. But the plant was very clean, and contractors were quickly hired to rectify the power problems,” explains Hirsch. But the real problem was to get the required equipment as most of their essential equipment had been knocked down by the force of the floodwaters, and assessing the extent of damage necessitated a thorough cleaning first.

SPG’s loyal quality control staff oversaw the cleanup effort, with the company’s entire team working 24/7 in shifts to accomplish the task. With great effort, they cleaned some of the equipment, and other emergency orders were sent for replacement parts. “We couldn’t even see what parts needed to be replaced until the machines were cleaned,” Hirsch explains. “We started slowly, machine by machine, and now everything has been built to standards. Some are custom built.”

SPG has evolved from a small packaging operation setup to a modern and fully automated packaging plant, providing a complete outsourcing solution for packaging, fulfillment, warehousing, and inventory management for many industries, including contract food packaging, consumer packaged goods, industrial product packaging, and more. The company boasts a scalable 400,000 sq. ft., temperature and humidity-controlled facility that is both Kosher and Organic-certified and offers expertise in packaging, warehousing, refrigerated storage, material purchasing, assembly, and shipping. “We are Safe Quality Food Institute (SQF) certified since 2011 and are underway to go through our annual audit for the 11th year in a row, achieving a 98 grade or higher very year,” says Hirsch. The company currently employs the latest equipment and new capacity, with room to grow even more. All in all, the way SPG bounced back from the disaster gave them enormous confidence and self-belief to handle any situation smartly.

Overcoming the COVID-19 Pandemic

SPG has been a game-changer for its customers in these devastating times.
One such example that serves as a testimony to this is the way SPG assisted the meal kit delivery providers in the US, which is a growing industry in the country. The meal kit delivery companies were hugely affected by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as there were concerns about people spreading the virus through touch, especially in schools, workplaces, and public locations. Although the government had declared a complete lockdown, they allowed and mandated schools and other essential service providers to continue providing meals to families or the kids that attend the schools. But, the meal-kit delivery companies faced many challenges due to lockdown. They had few employees and high demand for meal kits; they had to break their traditional delivery method. As meal kit companies were increasingly looking to adopt packaging automation as a solution to bring down labor and outsourcing costs, SPG emerged as a boon. Using its diversified packaging and fulfillment solutions, SPG addressed all the challenges that these companies faced. “Our strategy of having a diversified solution with advanced packaging machines, in addition to always having the ability to respond quickly and meet customers’ needs makes us second to none,” states Hirsch.
  • Our strategy of having a diversified solution with advanced packaging machines, in addition to always having the ability to respond quickly and meet customers’ needs makes us second to none

In another instance, SPG was approached by one of the largest food and snack-food manufacturers to pack their gummy snacks into small 0.9 oz single-serve pouches. The client wanted a cost-effective solution to source the candies in bulk and pack them for Walmart quickly. SPG addressed this situation by conditioning the candies and having equipment custom-built with dimpled surfaces. With its staff and engineers’ help, SPG exceeded the machinery speeds estimated by the equipment manufacturer. They managed to produce 150 million of these small pouches every month for the customer. This association very well proves that SPG thrives on short lead times and turnkey operations, which sets them apart. “Our goal is to help our customers through crunch times,” says Hirsch.

Modernizing Contract Packaging Space

SPG has come a long way, overcoming all the possible hurdles on its way to success. “We strongly believe that to stay ahead of the competition one must have a diversified solution and staining capability to respond to emerging needs, and that’s where we are headed,” shares Hirsch. The company has occupied multiple facilities and satellite warehouses in various US locations for storage and distribution. They also have plans to have a separate manufacturing facility opened down South and central New Jersey to meet the growing customer requirements. To modernize and further augment the packaging automation, SPG is deploying several advanced technologies such as robotics and other exciting technologies. They also want to create a framework to integrate inventory planning, scheduling, maintenance, and other processes under one roof/database. In a nutshell, SPG aims to be the packaging partner of choice for brands worldwide. The firm plans to maintain a leading position in the marketplace by delivering outstanding value through its full-service contract packaging. With partners like SPG, food manufacturing and retail companies can build brand identity and achieve greater heights more quickly.