Recently a few of us at Nashville Wraps had the opportunity to visit one of our manufacturing partners in Portland, Oregon. They have found their niche and are supplying high quality, competitively priced, 100% recycled paper packaging products all across the United States and Canada.
So what does it take to compete against the imports? I think a will and a way… but in true American fashion it is about working smarter.
Our visit to the factory at Bonita-Pioneer was the first time many of us were in Portland. I can describe it in one word…”green”. The first thing I did was to roll the window down on the rental car, and believe it or not I kept it down all the way from the airport to the hotel downtown. So it is against that backdrop that we start making 100% recycled paper bags and boxes.
The actual paper bag plant is relatively small, about 50,000 sq. ft. but what they do with that space sets them and few other of our vendors apart. At Bonita-Pioneer it is about efficiency, productivity and a “can do-will do” attitude. For printed bags the process begins with the art department and a relentless pursuit of detail. The art and plates are going to be right the first time, and so it is rare that a job is delayed or heaven forbid, printed wrong because of the prep. The plates are made on site and are high resolution digital with which no solvents or washes are needed.
As we move on to the ink department, we are shown an exacting set of controls that allow inks to be tested, matched, reused and remixed from one color to the next. They keep thousands of ink formulations and there is hardly any waste. Oh yes, those inks are of course non-toxic and water based.
The printing presses are all tuned and running like well cared for sewing machines. Print jobs are scheduled in groups with common attributes like size and color. They will progress from starting the day with light ink colors and ending on darker one, all to reduce change time and increase efficiency not to mention saving on ink.
Even the handles on the paper shopping bags are unique (and local) although you couldn’t tell just by looking. The handle supplier wasn’t even making handles a few years back, but was making twine for agriculture. Working with them, the team at Bonita-Pioneer was able to create a local vendor and a superior product like our Christmas paper shopping bags at the left. Of course all the bag papers also come from the area and are 100% recycled, made in the USA. It was nice to read those labels on the big rolls of paper and know for a fact that it is what we say it is!
I think that that there is one other intangible thing well worth mentioning. It is simply a good dose of American Pride. Not boastful pride, but a pride that says “I’m glad to be here; this is where I want to work and I’m going to work smart”. The employees there share that attitude and go the extra mile to keep their customers like you and me happy.
We have seen this over and over… the way to compete in American manufacturing is to be efficient, highly productive on machinery, conservative of materials and of course, the environment. But that just comes naturally.