Pilferers Beware

Colbert Packaging adds one more packaging solution—a tamper-resistant security card—to its impressive résumé.

Many consumers have searched an aisle at the local discount department store for a particular item, only to find an empty display hook. The consumer then looks down and discovers on the bottom shelf several opened packages of the very same item. This act of opening retail packages inside the store — known as pilfering — is annoying to consumers, but for retailers, it is a costly bad habit.

To address this problem, many retailers now are seeking blistercards that meet the challenge of these pesky pilferers, and one Lake Forest, IL, converter is offering a solution. For Colbert Packaging, offering solutions is all in a day's work.

With 50% of its business coming from the pharmaceutical market, Colbert Packaging manufactures high quality folding cartons, rigid paper boxes, and paperboard specialty products. With 200 employees spread across its three plants, the company generates sales of about $35 million annually.

What's the secret to its success? The team at Colbert Packaging is inspired by the hard work and determination demonstrated by its patriarch and founder, Charles “Bud” Colbert. It was in 1959 that Colbert purchased the property and assets of Kroeck Paper Box, a Chicago company founded in 1892 by industry pioneer George Kroeck. The company's name was changed to Colbert Packaging, and in 1986 the folding carton operation moved into a new, custom-built manufacturing plant and corporate headquarters in Lake Forest, a suburb of Chicago.

Colbert's ambition continued to grow with the purchase, in 1991, of the Williams Brothers Paper Box Co. in South Bend, IN, which produces paper boxes, heart-shaped boxes, and specialty items. It also houses the company's contract packaging operation, “Just Pack It,” a wholly-owned subsidiary that provides fulfillment operations.

Bud Colbert passed away in the summer of 1995, but the success and growth of the business has lived on. In 1998 Colbert Flexographic Packaging was established and began operation just three blocks from the company's headquarters and main manufacturing facility. This subsidiary manufactures folding cartons using flexographic printing equipment, which includes in-line sheeting, printing, cutting, and stripping. The flexo facility also houses the company's pressure-sensitive roll label manufacturing equipment.

Investing in Quality
From 1998 through 2001, Colbert Packaging has spent close to $12 million on equipment investments, and the spending spree has paid off.

Colbert's flexographic facility is home to two eight-color, 20-in. Mark Andy flexo presses. One is equipped with a flatbed die-cutting system, and the second has a rotary system; in addition there is a Mark Andy 10-in., eight-color Scout (used for label applications), purchased in January 2003; an Arpeco 13-in. inspection machine; and one Vega folder/gluer.

It is at Colbert's flexo plant where the company manufacturers its new Blisterguard, a tear-resistant blister card that helps deter theft while protecting the merchandise.

Guarding Against Pilferage
One of the areas Colbert Packaging is most proud of is its cutting-edge product development, and a lot of the company's growth in this area stems from the addition of Glenn Grosskopf, VP of product development and developer of the Blisterguard backer.

“Blisterguard is reinforced with Valeron Strength Film, so it's a tear-resistant blistercard. What we plan on doing, since it's a new product, is focusing on the Sam's Clubs, the Costcos, and any of the [other] retailers using high volumes of clamshells,” says Grosskopf.

What makes Blisterguard unique, Grosskopf believes, is it's strong enough to keep pilferers out, yet the blistercard doesn't sacrifice itself in the area of appearance.

“We believe it's a better-looking product — better pop and better graphics,” says Grosskopf. “[And with] the film and construction, it gives you a stronger hanger hold. It won't tear.”

Meeting Strict Guidelines
Lon Johnson, VP of new business development and manager of Colbert's flexographic division, says, “We run the flexo plant under pharmaceutical guidelines. We give them everything they need to guarantee product integrity. There is no ‘mix’ possibility. We treat this like a drug-type product.

“That's what they really appreciate and like. And the functionality of the product is fantastic because of the flexo presses. So it kind of puts us in a league of our own,” continues Johnson.

Even though the Blisterguard backer may seem an attractive solution to many, executive VP Jim Hamilton says the package isn't the right fit for some merchandise. The Blisterguard is made specifically to meet the strict guidelines within industries demanding product integrity, protection, and theft deterrence.

“If you are packaging nuts and bolts and you want to have Blisterguard, this may not be your packaging solution due to the value of the item packaged. Our Blisterguard is primarily positioned to offer an alternative to clamshells at an attractive value,” Hamilton comments. “We are able to be competitive on this based on our research, our product development, and knowledge of packaging alternatives.”

Colbert Packaging is enthusiastic about its new security backer as well as many other packaging solutions developed by Grosskopf that the company is preparing to launch.

For a company founded some 40 years ago on determination and strength, Colbert Packaging's success seems set to continue for many years to come.

Colbert Packaging Corp.

28355 N. Bradley Rd.
Lake Forest, IL 60045; 847/367-5990; colbertpkg.com.

Mark Andy—PFFC-ASAP 385.
Chesterfield, MO; 636/532-4430; markandy.com

Arpeco Engineering—PFFC-ASAP 386. Mississauga, ON, Canada; 905/564-5150; arpeco.com

Vega spa —PFFC-ASAP 387. Paderno Dugnano, Italy; +39-02-9904-6212; fax: +39-02-9904-6202.

Valéron Strength Films—PFFC-ASAP 388. Houston, TX; 713/462-6111; valeron.com

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