Where Faith and Family are Key
Apex Packaging Solutions
Apex Packaging Solutions is a rapidly growing firm based in Honesdale, Pennsylvania focusing on flexible packaging. As the company name implies, Apex is devoted to finding packaging solutions for its broad clientele. The firm is a nimble, hard-working, family-run enterprise that infuses its operations with a strong sense of purpose and religious faith.
“We are experts in flexible packaging. We are not, nor do we desire to become, the one-stop shop for everything. By specializing in food packaging, we offer customers information so that they can make informed decisions that will benefit the integrity and safety of their products,” says founder/CEO Glenn Davis, who runs the company with his wife, Carolyn.
Apex works with a network of ISO-qualified suppliers who provide clients with a variety of packaging solutions. These solutions include high oxygen barrier films, breathable films, high moisture barrier films, laminates, semi-rigid films, and printed non-forming and forming webs. Apex also provides shrink bags, printed pouches, stand-up pouches and gusseted pouches. Industries served include medical, meat, bakery, confection, cheese, poultry, snack foods, seafood, hardware, vegetables, pharmaceutical, pet food, and personal health.
“Roll stock films have always been the bulk of our business. We are seeing printed stand-up pouches beginning to build some momentum, but it’s always been roll-stock films for us,” states Davis.
Prior to launching Apex, Davis worked extensively in the packaging industry. He joined Kehr Packaging in 1983 and helped create and design packaging for blue chip customers such as Keebler, Nabisco and ConAgra. Later, Davis worked in St. Joseph, Missouri for Schurpack, rising to become Vice-President of Sales and Marketing. When Schurpack was purchased by Cryovac in the late 1990s, Davis set up a manufacturing operation called Omnipac in Horsham, Pennsylvania.
“I felt it was a perfect time to go out on my own and create a unique packaging company. I’ve been fortunate to have mentors at every phase of my career. My knowledge has come not just from packaging and technical advisors with whom I worked, but from my clients themselves. Spending time on the production floor and asking questions about their manufacturing processes proved to be invaluable. I used to be a chef before I got into the packaging industry, so my love for meat, cheese, and poultry packaging and the knowledge obtained through various jobs morphed into Apex Packaging Solutions,” he recalls.
Davis sold his portion of Omnipac, then founded Apex in 2004, in Baltimore, Maryland. As business grew, the firm moved to its current location in Pennsylvania in 2007.
“I wanted to provide smaller and mid-sized meat, cheese, and poultry companies the very best flexible packaging films available, but at competitive if not aggressive prices. I’ve always found that the Fortune 500 food companies receive the lowest prices and the best service while the smaller and mid-sized guys are forced to accept higher prices. I wanted to change that,” says Davis, of his decision to start Apex.
“When I left manufacturing,” he continues, “I began a quest to find the best manufacturers of each film type, and I think we succeeded in doing that. We purchase films from the United States, Canada, and Europe. Often we specify the ingredients, if you will, in the construction of the films. We have a very intricate process for qualifying suppliers and manufacturers of films, and our testing procedures are quite extensive. When we present a product to our clients or our prospective clients, we want all of the variables to have been addressed before they try our products,” he states.
Being agile and focusing on client needs are central to Davis’ vision for Apex. “Our customer service and ability to think out of the box needs to be second to none, because we’re competing against some huge packaging suppliers. But unlike the big guys, we can turn on a dime. Even for a first time customer, we often take less than three weeks for a new order of unprinted films,” he states.
Asked if the early days of the company were a struggle, Davis says, “Surprisingly, it wasn’t as much of a struggle as one might think. Sure, it took a lot of work, but the relationships and respect we had earned over the decades in the meat industry enabled us to quickly establish a customer base. I’ve always found that people tend to buy relationships, not products, regardless of the products or services one is selling.”
Of course, staying on top of industry tech trends has also been crucial to Apex’s success. “Apex Packaging Solutions aims to be on the cutting edge of new packaging technology, which incidentally is changing faster at the present than any time I remember. One of those new packaging advances is the science of nano-technology. Nano-technology is a relatively new field which we believe may mark the beginning of a packaging revolution for the food industry,” states Davis.
Nano-technology involves extremely small sizes—a nano-meter is “one billionth of a meter. We’re talking about technology on a microscopic scale,” says Davis.
He cites some potential uses of nano-technology in food packaging: “Antibodies that attach themselves to nano particles could be able to detect foodborne pathogens. There could be biodegradable nano-sensors for temperature, moisture, and shelf life. This would provide both supermarkets and consumers the knowledge to determine when a product’s life has expired—in other words, when the product’s gone bad.”
Nano-clays or nano-films, meanwhile, could be used as barrier materials “to prevent product spoilage and avert oxygen absorption.”
Apex is a family-run firm; Davis’ wife, Carolyn currently serves as President. It’s also a faith-based business, guided by religious values. “A business’ ethics should always come from the owners and those running the business,” shares Davis. “My wife, Carolyn and I share the business philosophy that there should be no distinction between one’s professional endeavors and personal Christian faith. Christians should be committed to live all aspects of their lives to reflect Jesus Christ. Therefore, business should be conducted with the utmost integrity. In other words, our faith needs to manifest itself in all arenas of life: work, home, and in society. This should be evident in how we treat our employees, our customers, our suppliers, everyone,” says Davis.
Apex employees are involved in charitable work, recently volunteering, for example, with the Salvation Army to build accessible stairs and ramps for disabled people in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The company also provides financial assistance to inner-city churches to help those in need and has contributed to a Florida hurricane disaster relief fund.
Apex’s open, honest, hard-working approach has paid off. The company website is replete with testimonials from very pleased customers. “We have been doing business with Apex since they first [opened]. All of our packaging films, all of our casings and most of our pouches and vacuum bags are purchased through Apex. With very few exceptions, these products have been delivered on time, at a competitive price,” states Ron Fouche, Director of Purchasing at Palmyra Bologna Company, Inc.
In terms of what Apex looks for in a new employee, Davis says, “Since we’re a smaller company, we do expect someone to have a background in either the packaging industry or the food industry – one of the two, it doesn’t necessarily have to be both. But we also want someone who brings something we don’t have, who brings some kind of knowledge. We’re always looking to be educated, because again, the learning curve is constantly changing. We want someone who is eager to learn, who has an attitude that the customer comes first. I really think that’s something you can’t teach. They have the attitude that we’re here to serve the customer, because some people are in it for themselves. We don’t want to include someone like that in our company,” says Davis.
Apex also expects the highest quality from the manufacturers with whom it works. “We require our suppliers to be ISO qualified as well as some of the other quality [accreditations]. Traceability is really important to us because we’re talking about consumables.”
Interestingly enough, Davis cites “rapid growth” as the biggest challenge facing Apex at present. The company has been growing at a rate of over 25 percent a year, which is both exhilarating and bracing. Apex does not want to grow too fast and lose sight of its principles and business procedures, says Davis.
As for the future, Davis says, “We want to continue to grow at the rate we’re growing if we can keep it somewhat controlled. We will be expanding our consulting department, another area which is growing for us. We’re finding that more and more companies are introducing new products but are experiencing challenges in getting the consumer’s attention. They may know their product inside and out, but they don’t know how to present it into the marketplace. For example, what kind of packaging would create the best aesthetics? Something as simple as the colors used in the packaging will influence the consumer’s desire to purchase that product.”
Guided by strong principles and a desire to continually improve, it seems certain that Apex Packaging Solutions will continue to meet with success for many years to come.