Insights: Indiana | Business Spotlight | Spring 2018

FlexPac & InnoPAC: Packaging solutions

In a crowded industry, FlexPAC is focused on standing out from its peers

By Erik Cassano

The Indianapolis-based packaging solutions company has scores of competitors, many selling similar products, creating a commodity-driven landscape in which businesses compete primarily on price.

So 10 years ago, in a space where it is difficult to create separation by developing new products, FlexPAC founder and CEO Mark Dinwiddie and his leadership team found another avenue: FlexPAC would stand out as a company by providing customized packaging solutions and focusing on customer service.

“Most manufacturing companies aren’t going to have the in-house expertise around packaging for their products,” Dinwiddie says. “They are very good at designing and building their products, but getting them packaged and out the door is another matter. We have that expertise, so we had the ability to solve that problem for our manufacturing customers.”

“No business grows without good people working in it, and we’re fortunate to have great people here.” — Mark Dinwiddie, Founder and CEO, FlexPAC

The rise of InnoPAC

To leverage this expertise, Dinwiddie and his team developed a new division of the company focused on customized packaging solutions. Called InnoPAC, the division would develop relationships with customers with the goal of addressing the packaging-related pain points specific to each company.

“It’s everything from redesigning packaging to make an item stand out on a store shelf, to developing delivery containers that allow more items to be stacked on a truck for shipping,” Dinwiddie says. “Each customer is going to have their own problems that they need to address, and we wanted to position ourselves as the people who could solve them.”

InnoPAC invested in computer-aided design, or CAD, software, and commercial printers capable of reproducing intricate designs on thick material such as corrugated cardboard. But as much as the investment in software and equipment has helped FlexPAC broaden its business, Dinwiddie says great service is all about great people -- and that is where his company makes its largest investment of time and resources.

“We have built a presence in the custom design business because we were able to bring aboard a person who has experience in that area,” Dinwiddie says. “They were able to help us understand how to get into the custom business. Without that knowledge in house, it would have been a much more difficult process. That’s why it’s all about our people. No business grows without good people working in it, and we’re fortunate to have great people here.”

Mark Dinwiddie,  Founder and CEO, FlexPAC
Mark Dinwiddie, Founder and CEO, FlexPAC (Photography by Dawn Pearson)

Additional growth

In the past decade, FlexPAC has also branched into other areas including facility solutions and worker safety, with the ultimate goal of becoming a one-stop shop for its customers.

“Our safety business allows us to supply products that just about any manufacturing company needs, items like earplugs, safety vests, latex gloves and defibrillation machines, and do it as a value-add on top of what we already provide in the packaging area,” Dinwiddie says.

The facility solutions arm of the company supplies cleaning products, disinfectants, floor cleaners and insect control products, among others. Dinwiddie says the facility solutions business is becoming increasingly important for FlexPAC. In particular, the company’s leaders want to utilize facility solutions to build a bigger customer base among school systems and universities, a space in which the company has been growing its customer base for the past several years.

“About 90 percent of the janitorial cost for schools and universities is related to labor,” he says. “You can make your labor much more efficient if you are properly equipping your janitorial staff with all the things they need to do the job. That’s an area where we are already seeing growth, and we want to continue to pursue it.”

As FlexPAC grows, its success will hinge on adaptability, innovation and, most important, its people. And in all three of those areas, Dinwiddie believes his company is well positioned. “We started out about 30 years ago selling bundling tape, shrink wrap, whatever we needed to get started,” he says. “We’ve come a long way since then, and it’s all due to the hard work of the more than 100 people we have. And our people are the reason I’m confident about our future.”

A bank comes through

No business grows alone. FlexPAC founder and CEO Mark Dinwiddie was reminded of that in 2006, and it’s why he is now a loyal customer of Huntington. “It was during the first acquisition we made,” Dinwiddie says. “We had everything set up, and the day before we were supposed to close, our previous bank informed us they had to do a whole new series of audits before the transaction could go through.”

Frustrated with the unplanned paperwork delay, Dinwiddie began calling other banks. “This was a Friday afternoon, and the acquisition was supposed to be finalized the following Monday morning,” he says. “I was on the phone with banks all afternoon, and I finally got a hold of a Huntington representative, who said they could do the deal. I was so relieved, and it’s why they’re now our only bank. We do all our business with them, because on that one afternoon 10 years ago, they were there for us. They earned our trust.”

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