Die-Hard Creativity Keeps Converter Growing and GROWING

Creativity can mean a lot of things, and for Jannel Packaging, maker of packing-list envelopes, it's no different. From its recent upgrade with two GN machines to its ventures in Velcro, this operation redefines creativity persistently.

Packing-list envelopes: Say that ten times really fast. To be really creative, say it in your best Boston accent. No problem for Jannel Packaging's president, Michael Silverman. And neither is being creative. Located just outside Boston, the Holbrook, MA, converting operation is one of less than half-a-dozen in the US producing packing-list envelopes. With the recent addition of two custom-designed/assembled GN packing-list pouch machines, the 22-year-old converter has created yet another successful chapter in the company's flourishing chronicle.

First profiled by PFFC in 1987, Jannel's main converted product continues to be the packing-list envelope. The packing-list envelope's function is to hold and protect the documents outside a shipping package; it's comprised of a polyethylene pouch with a pressure-sensitive back.

These days, Jannel's “modified” two-shift (they overlap during the day) operation also is exercising its creativity in the hook-and-loop (better known by its brand name, Velcro) closure arena. But packing-list envelope production remains the company's cornerstone — thus the GN pouch-machine investment. Jannel VP Ken Murphy says the new pouchmakers can run a million pouches per day. “That's the reason we decided on the GN machines,” he notes, “very high speed.”

The Dream Team
Situated among other businesses in a 100,000-sq-ft building owned by Silverman, Jannel actually occupies close to 55,000 sq ft. The company now employs almost 50 and was started by Silverman in 1979. Murphy joined Jannel just a few years ago, but Silverman and Murphy — both exuding that amiable Boston attitude and accent during PFFC's visit — “are an excellent fit,” says Silverman.

The two met 20 years ago. “I was a Jannel customer,” explains Murphy. “I headed operations, but I had a propensity for getting into the nuts and bolts of every one of the vendors that I dealt with, to the point where I got very much into [Jannel's] business.”

Murphy literally “got into” Jannel's business shortly thereafter. Murphy recalls, “The real truth of the matter is, one night at dinner, Mike is like, ‘I don't know what to do. I've got this building. I'm toying with the idea of whether I should expand or not. If I expand, what should I be doing?’ By the end of the night, we had a business plan.”

“All on napkins,” Silverman adds, laughing.

Silverman says his relocation dilemma entailed more than a new address. “I had to make a decision. We were in a 100-year-old building, and we were growing and growing, from 12,000 to 25,000 square feet, and so on.” Ultimately, Silverman went with the expansion option.

In a very complementary way, he and Murphy tackle the company's specialized converting applications, the high-speed, packing-list envelope production (and the Velcro applications). Explains Silverman, “Ken has an engineering background, and mine is sales and marketing. While he's looking at the [production] ins-and-outs, I'm going, ‘Wow, can we sell with this?’”

The Dream Machines
And look at the “ins-and-outs” of the GN pouch machines, they both did. “We read about and were familiar with their pouch machines,” says Murphy. “In reading the literature, we found GN was quoting its machine at 250 cycles per minute.”

Impressed with what he read, Murphy sent some sample material to the manufacturer for testing. “GN did some preliminary work with us before we went up there,” he explains. “GN engineers were building a machine for another company, in Europe some place, similar to the type of machine we were interested in; I sent GN some sample material to see how it would run.”

Then Murphy and Silverman took a trip to the pouch-equipment manufacturer to check out the GN products in person.

The 26-in.-wide pouch machine has no brand name; it bears only an identifying number on its side (26HS). “That's the GN approach,” says Murphy. “Its engineers get in and look at the customer's requirements before getting into any machine construction.” Basically, he explains, GN's equipment is custom designed, depending on the needs of the customer. “You know, it's different than building one for the masses.”

Jannel's GN packing-list envelope machine is highly automated, says Silverman. “It automatically stacks and delivers, so all you have to do is put it in a box.” The company soon will be adding another GN machine to further its packing-list production capacity and efficiency. He says the second machine was ordered the same time as the first, but Silverman deliberately planned for its later delivery. “In a discussion with GN, Ken asked when we were going to get the machine,” he recalls. “They replied with, ‘Which one?’”

“Yeah,” interjects Murphy, “amid the negotiating for the first one, all of a sudden I found out we're getting two of them.”

According to Silverman, the second GN machine will be installed at Jannel “after we get used to the first one,” but, he adds, it will probably be sometime early next year.

What Are Those Velcro Applications?
For now, the GN 26HS will fulfill Jannel's packing-list envelope production (until the other is installed), and the company is also in the process of retrofitting some of its older Ro-An 225 pouch machines for an adhesive-backed Velcro-closure. (Now, that's creative.) Murphy says refiguring the Ro-An machines entails changing how the machines apply the sealing mechanism. “A piece is added so the Velcro closure can be affixed to the pouch,” he adds.

Brand new to the market, the Velcro-closure development sprouted from the synergistic creativity of Jannel, Velcro, and Park Air Corp. Murphy explains: “Velcro has been out there for two or three years trying to find ways to make this happen. And Park Air was going in one direction with Velcro. Then we started going in another direction with the company.”

Ultimately, says Silverman, it was the engineers at Velcro that recognized the parallel paths of Jannel and Park Air. He says they are the ones that told him, “You two should be together.”

In addition to its work with Park Air for its retrofitted Ro-An machines, Jannel recently commissioned the company for another Velcro-closure machine. “Park Air is making a machine for film-film applications,” says Murphy.

“So,” elucidates Silverman, “[the new product] would be just like a poly bag, but instead of the traditionally produced zippered-closure pouches, it would have a true [hook-and-loop fastener].”

This Park Air machine actually was at CMM last April and, says Silverman, was delivered directly from the show in Chicago to Jannel. It seems the company is creating yet another specialized application under its roof. “We are getting into a lot of other product lines,” reveals Silverman. “Obviously, we're getting into regular poly bags, different types of reclosable poly bags, and even different types of air mail pouches. Essentially, we're broadening our spectrum; as things roll along, we go with them.”

Jannel, these days, is doing much more than just “rolling along.” With ample to room to grow, a vital and creative executive team, and what Silverman calls a “mind-boggling” amount of opportunities with the opening of the Velcro-closure door, these packing-list envelope producers are rolling with the best of them.

Jannel Packaging Inc.

Holbrook, MA 02343-1338

When They Were Young
“The common packing-list holder that accompanies almost every shipment is anything but ordinary for a young converting operation located in Massachusetts.”

That's how Jannel's story started in PFFC's May 1987 issue. The packing-list envelope is still very much a part of Jannel's production, but like many other things at Jannel Packaging, its packing-list envelope production also is evolving. The purchase and installation of the two custom-designed GN pouch machines is proof of that.

Other changes since the '87 article include Jannel's move from Braintree, MA, to the Holbrook, MA, location; the addition of many more converting machines; the incorporation of the Velcro-closure-type packaging; and the addition of VP Ken Murphy.

There are changes that aren't as easy to see. Company president Michael Silverman is in one of the pictures that appeared with the original 1987 article; from the looks of that picture, he hasn't changed much.

In addition, Jannel is still one of a few packing-list manufacturers in the US; in the 1987 article, Silverman mentioned a half-a-dozen or so. In PFFC's 2001 interview, Silverman reported that number hasn't changed much (see main story).

Just before it entered the last decade of the 20th century, Jannel was a growing “young” company. With its recent production equipment upgrade and its foray into new areas, it's obvious Jannel is carrying that youthful growth mentality into the 21st century as well.

GN Packaging Equipment/ATR Industries Ltd.,
Mississauga, ON, Canada; 905/670-0383; gnpak.com

Ro-An Industries Corp., Middle Village, NY; 800/255-7626; roan.com

Park Air Corp., Brockton, MA; 508/584-3440; parkair.com

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