Bennett Packaging | One Of The Most Successful Woman-Owned Manufacturers In North America
Time to read 6 min
Time to read 6 min
Today, I wanted to share my story with other women entrepreneurs. To give them hope in their pursuits of their own businesses, products, and most importantly themselves.
Now more than ever it is a great time to be a woman with a dream. And the only thing preventing you from getting wherever it is you want to go, is confidence and hard work.
My journey has taken me to so many places over the years, and nothing was handed to me each step of the way. I’m a person that believes in hard work, pushing yourself, and putting together a team that is built for success.
My parents instilled a work philosophy in me that has stuck with me through my entire journey.
If you work hard, you can find success.
In my opinion, being a woman had nothing to do with my success, it’s continued over the years because I believed in hard work and treating others as you would want to be treated.
For me, it was a humble beginning. I was born in a small rural town in Missouri in 1950, and while the world has changed quite a bit over the years, so many things are the same.
When I was 14, I found a job in a corn field. That taught me a great deal about work ethic and ambition, and most importantly it was not what I wanted to do for a living.
In the 1970’s I found myself as a single mom of two, and a need to keep pushing. I became a real estate broker, and I was quite successful at it.
But even with the beginnings of a good career, I wanted to do more in life.
I had learned so much about business, and I believed I had only scratched the surface of what I could accomplish.
My work in real estate had given me enough money to do something bold. Start a business. What kind? Manufacturing packaging and displays. We bought the assets of a small packaging company and it was a great fit for me.
Here was a great opportunity to own a business that would have clients with repeat business. The ability to work with so many businesses in the midwest area, expand our footprint nationwide, and make an impact in the community.
We didn’t know what we didn’t know. We just worked hard, did what we said we would do and pampered our customers. But the real secret was finding great people and treating them right.
While we started extremely small in terms of our square footage and equipment, we managed to flourish by providing a great value to every customer that came through the door. Building on my earlier careers, I found that the customer that got the best attention would come back for more.
Soon we were buying new equipment, and moving into an 85,000 sq ft warehouse in Missouri.
At the core of our business is the idea of innovation. Our tagline is “Where Imagination Meets Corrugation”. And we mean it.
2000 marked the year where we moved from our 85,000 sq ft location to a larger 400,000 sq ft location in an old underground limestone mine. It was a scary opportunity because we were moving into a space that was more than four times our size and a much larger rent commitment.
What if it was too big? In fact, it would prove to be too small in the years to come.
By 2011 we had invested in additional machinery that was focused on filling a special niche in the market.
A special 7-color Hycorr Flexo.
I’m sure that may look like some strange words to you, but this one machine has helped us attract more customers, and manufacture the same order for less.
The seven-color production machine allows us to print some of the highest-quality graphics possible right onto the packaging, winning many national awards.
This meant in one-pass (instead of multiple) we could apply seven colors. This process used less resources, materials, and cost the customer less.
Then in 2015 and again in 2018 we made one of the biggest leaps in the market by investing in two Digital Printing Presses. A unique company from Spain called Barberán offered an extremely innovative printing solution that was again direct-to-corrugate printing in a single-pass.
When we saw it, we knew we wanted to buy it. And it was the first High-Speed Digital Printing Press in North America.
The difference was that instead of a customer needing to make a printing plate, we could print digital artwork files like a consumer printer. It was and is a game changer for us and the market because we could print label quality graphics, without the labels.
These printing presses have won us numerous awards. And it’s not just the printing quality that makes customers happier. Digital Printing brings a huge cost and waste reduction on every order. It’s enabled businesses to move greener with their packaging, while helping us to continue to be greener as a business.
And in 2020, I finalized an exciting move from our underground facility, to build a brand new 524,300 sq ft warehouse. It’s a $45 million dollar expansion of the business that plans to be a great future.
By moving all of our equipment yet again, it allows us to build on everything we’ve learned over the years about efficiency and best practices. It helps to maximize our business over the years to come, and continue to grow.
Every business is working towards becoming greener. Not just for their bottom line, but because they want to make an impact on the environment by doing cleaner business. And that’s one of our biggest tenets with every new purchase.
Digital Printing has been our way of moving customers to a greener future. Every business that needs corrugated packaging and displays. When they partner with us, our teams can be more sustainable and eco-friendly with every new design.
With one customer we’ve been able to reduce their material waste by 24.9%, and their resource usage by 18%, but that doesn’t come at the cost of their marketing. Actually it allows them to do even more marketing.
By switching to Digital and going green, they can actually print as many graphics as they want, while traditional methods prevented that. Our focus has been, and continues to be, to integrate with businesses as a better partner. Digital Printing offers customers the ability to come up with a new design and get it printing by the end of the day.
No other printing method offers that.
By the end of this year we will be FSC Certified, which is an exciting opportunity to remind people how much we have been pushing for packaging that is better for the environment.
Digital Printing has been our way of moving customers to a greener future.
But packaging and displays aren’t all we do. We provide customers additional services as a Third-Party Logistics. We take their products into our warehouse, assemble them, insert them into our packaging, and ship them to retailers nationwide.
Moving products between warehouses less, helps to improve everyone’s bottom line, and drastically reduces the impact on the environment.
From day one, my focus has been to offer more as a partner and not just as a vendor. We aim to provide a full experience to customers to make their lives easier. And that’s the same advice I would give you while starting your business.
Every move we made, equipment we bought, person we hired, was a strategic move to grow.
The team we’ve built has a mindset that there’s always a better way, and we just have to find it.
All the way from our project management team, to our manufacturing and designers, the process is built to help customers succeed.
While some people may just see a box, a package, or a display, we see a huge opportunity. We live and breathe corrugated, and the experts assisting businesses with those needs.
Making the right choices to save on shipping costs, protect their products, and launch their campaigns nationwide. Even globally.
Put your customer first, take care of your people, and you will find success.
Looking ahead to the future of Bennett, there are even more exciting opportunities.
Even thirty years later, we continue to innovate. It’s not just about our equipment and capabilities, it’s about our people. I have always pushed our team to think big. Find new ways of creating packaging worthy of an award, or a display worthy of a customer’s attention or a cost effective solution. And it has always been the right decision.
But the closing thought I want to leave you with is this.
There are no mountains that you can’t climb. Nothing is impossible in this world. If you find something that you love, and it brings value to other people, then you might have stumbled upon a perfect career opportunity.
Yesterday the doors may have been closed, but today and tomorrow are the best opportunities women entrepreneurs have ever had.