Why Hammermill Nails Your Paper Needs

Hammermill’s legacy in the paper industry stretches all the way back to 1899.

In its first decade of operations, the company grew to over 500 employees.

But why?

Well, partially due to its product quality. But Hammermill was also one of the most forward-thinking companies of its time.

They were the first to introduce profit sharing. They also offered paid vacations, sick time, and bonuses in a time when all were rare.

The company’s new patented watermarking process in that day ledto great efficiency in distribution.

While much has changed at Hammermill, its commitment to innovation and excellence has not. Even in 2000, before sustainability became the hot-button issue it is now, Hammermill was already planting several new trees for each one it cut down. They actually began a similar practice all the way back in 1960.

How’s that for thinking ahead?

And today, the digital era sets new standards and expectations for paper quality. Today’s business customer expects printshop quality right in their own office. And Hammermill delivers on that with paper designed specifically to create the best resolution on today’s printers.

The company also has even more sustainable options, like its Great White 100, which is paper made from 100% recycled post-consumer pulp.

Hammermill has also designed its paper to be 99.99% jam-free.

Paper for Nearly Every Purpose

Yes, the trend today is to make everything digital. But sometimes, you still need to use a little paper. And since Hammermill harvests paper in a sustainable way, you don’t have to worry about harming the earth.

Here are some of Hammermill’s products and the situations they’re specially designed for:

1. Tidal paper offers solid performance at a reasonable cost. It works best for internal purposes and general everyday use. Its ColorLok technology helps ink dry 3x faster so it doesn’t smudge. Black ink shows up 60% bolder, while color ink appears 30% more vivid.
2. The Colors product line helps you deliver the most impressive experience possible. So, this would be for customers or making an impact on decision-makers at your business. You can get it in 15 different colors and it comes with a smooth surface for maximum showthrough.

So if you need paper for any reason, don’t hesitate when you hear the name Hammermill. You’re guaranteed to be in good hands!

What Makes Fabri-Kal’s Packaging So Awesome

Yep, we’re happy to recommend Fabri-Kal packaging when it makes sense for your needs.

While not the biggest company in its industry, you have to remember that it’s not necessarily the size which matters: it’s their ability to create functional, lasting packaging that meets your precise specifications.

And that’s what the smaller companies frequently rock at. Marriott and Purdue University use Fabri-Kal products, so you know they have what it takes to make even the best of the best happy.

Yes, they have a focus on “world class customer service,” but every company says that. So what’s it really mean at Fabri-Kal?

Well, for starters, they use functionality testing and thermoforming simulations to predict the functionality of your packaging’s design before it’s even made. This is part of what they call the “FK Experience.”

Basically, their experts work jointly with you to help you arrive at a packaging solution that precisely meets your needs.

They rapidly develop a prototype of your packaging so you have a 3D concept to share with your team. And you can even get a short product run to test on your market and gather intelligence.

Plus, since they have a new 400,000 square-foot production facility, that means any volume you request can be quickly and easily made.

A History of Innovation Dating Back to 1950

Chobani, General Mills, and PepsiCo have all engaged Fabri-Kal for groundbreaking innovations in their respective industries.

But, while these happened recently, this really hasn’t been anything new for Fabri-Kal customers.

Fabri-Kal itself began as a 5,000 square foot operation in Kalamazoo, MI in 1950. Their first innovation was buying a machine to produce paint cups for the growing paint-by-number industry at the time.

By 1961, they created their second manufacturing plant in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. And they opened a third in Piedmont, South Carolina in 1981.

And today, some of their existing products already meet customer specifications, so customers (like Marriott) don’t even have the need to engage in a more costly customized product creation process.

In Marriott’s case, Fabri-Kal’s cup protected the hotel chain’s yogurt parfaits, and its Greenware line was already environmentally friendly. So, Marriott was simply able to order from existing product lines.

So whether you need a custom product, or one that already meets a specific purpose, Fabri-Kal meets your needs. And you should brim with excitement when you hear us recommend them to you.

How to Get More In-Store Customers in 2018

With all the large retailers either shutting down stores or going out of business entirely, you may feel tempted to think it’s hopeless to get in-store customers in 2018.

But your time is far from over. Just like any other change in the marketplace, you simply have to adapt so you survive and thrive.

Here’s some things you can do to make your in-store experience something even Amazon can’t compete with:

1. Offer USB Chargers

Neiman Marcus has installed USB charging stations across all its stores. And just like they do in airports, people congregate around them.

You’ll need a power bar, both Android and iPhone chargers, and extension cables.

Add a sign to make it obvious. And while you’re at it, consider offering free coffee too.

You could even take this whole concept to the max and create an entire lounge area in your store.

Add a TV, a couple couches, and some chairs.

Amazon simply can’t compete with this level of convenience.

2. Add Unique In-Store Events That Don’t Necessarily Require Shopping

PetSmart holds a free puppy play time, which is unstructured time for young dogs to get to know one another.

They don’t pressure customers into buying or signing up for classes.

But they do of course have all their products available. And customers do naturally ask about training classes, grooming, and other services for their dogs (and maybe even other pets too).

So, how can you translate the same concept to your own store?

3. Speaking of Classes…

Amazon theoretically could offer virtual classes for using its products. For example, if you buy tiles and grout, they could offer a series of videos that help you learn how to do tiling work in-home.

….But they don’t.

Home Depot does that in-store. Or, even if you own something like a small yarn shop, perhaps you hold classes showing your customers how to sew certain projects.

Again, simply translate the concept to your store and the type of product you sell.

4. Offer Discounts for In-Store Purchases Only

Well, this one makes your strategy quite clear. You could also create a customer loyalty program that offers bonus points and rewards.

And you could heighten the bonuses and discounts offered when your customer shares your offer with their friend and they purchase.

So yes, just because you own a store, or even a chain of stores, that doesn’t mean you have to give up and hand Amazon your business.

There’s many niches even Amazon can’t compete with. You simply have to be creative and willing to try new things.

Retail Apocalypse Continues – But Why?

Business Insider notes more than 3,800 retail stores will close this year. Fox Business adds that this is happening among 22 leading retailers.

And I’m sure you’ve heard about Toys R Us closing all its stores. Even the biggest of dogs, like Walgreens and Walmart are shutting down considerable numbers of stores.

At first, this sounds frightening. If giants fall, doesn’t it seem like anyone could be taken down by Amazon?

But one article at Forbes claims this problem could have been avoided.

Why?

Because retailers haven’t adapted to meet consumer needs.

Large retail stores were born out of the necessity that consumers had a lack of access. With no other options, the market worked such that consumers had to go to large retail stores to find exactly what they wanted.

…And that means prices and margins remained high too.

But, The Market’s Changed

Today, Millennials and Generation Z want locally sourced products, made by workers treated ethically everywhere in the supply chain, which are also environmentally friendly, and provide a unique experience.

Yes, that’s harder to do.

But retailers can do it (as shown by Amazon).

The main problem, the article argues, is that traditional retailers have a completely opposite culture from technology companies. Amazon does not think of itself as a retailer, but as a tech company who happens to be in retail.

Tech companies, for example, buildbig and fast and learn as they go. They’re unafraid to make mistakes and quickly adapt to market demand and changes.

Traditional retailers, however, want to avoid mistakes. They can’t adapt to market changes fast. And they want to rely on their traditional approach that they know what works best.

We’re not saying either approach is better.

…But are you starting to understand why even large retailers find themselves struggling versus Amazon?

If you can’t rapidly react to market changes, while another company is built to do just that, there’s a massive competitive advantage you can’t beat.

So, What Do You Do?

Walmart bought a weapon: Jet.com. They believe that by creating an emotional connection online (discovered through extensive testing), and by targeting a market segment that does not typically buy from Walmart (urban Millennials), they can somehow compete with Amazon.

You may not be able to create a multi-billion dollar operation like Jet.com. But, you can certainly work on integrating your online and offline shopping experiences to meet the needs of new market segments.

Companies who take risks will adapt and thrive. And hopefully you can find ways to do so going forward.

How to Negotiate the Best Deals with Your Suppliers

In business, everything’s negotiable.

If you don’t have a deal in place right now, then you simply haven’t discovered the best solution for both parties.

When was the last time you revisited your existing purchasing practices with your wholesale suppliers?

If it’s been a while, here’s some items to consider to help you negotiate a better working relationship with your supplier:

1. Your Leverage is Your Purchasing Volume

How many units can you realistically sell over a given time period? Have you identified new ways to increase your own sales? How can you use those projections to negotiate better deals with your suppliers?

The point isn’t to trap and coerce a better deal out of your partner. You want to have something you can give them. And understanding your own sales data and forecasts is the starting point for all negotiations.

2. Look for Alternative Solutions If Prices Aren’t Negotiable

Always focus on extending terms, which improves your cash flow. Or, see if you can get faster shipping.

Maybe you can negotiate better return terms. Or maybe you can get a discount if you pay your invoice early.

Creative, original thinking, that’s fair and a win-win for both parties leads to successful deals.

3. Have Multiple Suppliers in Place

If you want to play hardball, you can talk to several suppliers at once. Just make sure that whatever offer you get from each, you get it in writing so you can show it to other suppliers.

Then, let the negotiating fun begin.

4. Make Yourself The Ideal Long-Term Customer (And Mean It)

Always be nice and friendly. Have a willingness to compromise. Because, you need your supplier just as much as they need you.

And if you become too emotionally taxing to justify the effort of working with you, your supplier might simply choose to stop doing business with you.

So think of what you like about your favorite customers, and always exemplify those characteristics to the best of your ability.

5. Add More Value to Your Supplier

You are your supplier’s gateway to new markets and more sales. What access do you have that they already don’t?

You can also work to reduce your supplier’s risks by signing a multiyear contract and agreeing to a purchase volume that works for you.

Negotiations can add quite a bit of profit to your margins and net profit. And if you’re a creative, open-minded thinker, you can make your bottom line much healthier.

North Texas Food Bank Names The Pollock Campus

July 6, 2018, Dallas, Texas

On Saturday, June 30, 2018, the North Texas Food Bank unveiled the new name of their Cockrell Hill location in Dallas, Texas, as “The Pollock Campus”. This location is being repurposed as a HUB for smaller non-profit organizations to give to hungry families in the North Texas area.

Pollock has been a proud supporter of the North Texas Food Bank for 3 years and is also a sponsor of Empty Bowls, Taste of the Cowboys and Harvest. Pollock holds a service day once a year at the food bank where associates donate volunteer time to help sort and pack food boxes. This year, Pollock associates packed 7 pallets, which equates to 8,400 pounds and 7,000 meals for the community. “We are dedicated to giving back to the communities that we operate in. Through PollockCares, we strive to make a significant impact on the lives of people in need,” explains Lonnie Pollock, III, Chief Executive Officer at Pollock.

In honor of Pollock’s 100th year in business, Pollock and the Pollock Foundation made a $600,000 donation to the North Texas Food Bank’s Stop Hunger, Build Hope capital campaign. Other various fundraisers were held at the Pollock DFW branch throughout the year by its associates, and together they raised over $10,000 for the food bank.

      

The North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) is a top-ranked nonprofit relief organization, providing access to more than 190,000 meals each day for hungry children, seniors and families across a 13-county service area. The need for hunger relief in North Texas is huge; to combat increasing food insecurity, the Food Bank recently launched a 10-year plan to provide access to 92 million nutritious meals annually by 2025. NTFB is a member of Feeding America, a national hunger relief organization.

3 Ways Carefully Tracking Your Cleaning Supply Inventory Saves You Time and Money

A recent survey by Facility Cleaning Decision found the average respondent bought $250,000 in cleaning supplies each year…to clean approximately 1.2 million square feet.

In any business, the larger your numbers get, the more mistakes you make. At least, until you take the time to analyze and optimize your processes for efficiency, anyway.

It’s easy to get complacent with the way you do things. And after all, it takes a fair amount of time to inventory your product.

However, keeping an organized and efficiently-managed inventory on hand leads to benefits like these:

1. Happier Customers

How do you keep your customers (whether internal or external) happier than they could ever be with the competition?

You know what the competition does. And then you top it.

…But you can only do that by keeping close tabs on your inventory.

Do you have the top-performing products that deliver the results your customers want? Do you always have the supplies you need in stock so you can do the work your customers want in the time frame promised?

Do you spend within your budget when purchasing supplies so you don’t have to cut corners elsewhere?

2. Reduce Inventory Costs

Let’s say you’re around that quarter-million dollar budget with your cleaning supply inventory.

Do you buy in bulk so you can negotiate reduced prices? Do you know what you already have in inventory so you don’t buy product that sits around for a year or longer?

Will you find inventory you completely forget about…only to never use it?

3. You Can Catch Inventory Management Inefficiencies Faster

Let’s say you use software to track your cleaning supply inventory. Say you use a high-priced cleaning solution to maintain a large floor that must be kept in top shape year-round.

You analyze your inventory data. And you find that you must reorder this expensive cleaning solution twice as often as you thought.

Typically, you might shrug your shoulders and assume that’s just the way it is because the floor is so large.

But thanks to your software, you can see that one particular employee keeps using a lot of this cleaning solution.

So you talk to them about how they’re doing the work. And, you find out they use a lot more of that solution than necessary because they didn’t understand how to properly mix it.

As a result, you save thousands of dollars a year by simply helping your employee understand the correct way to mix the solution, rather than just letting the problem persist.

As you can see, if you run a significant budget of cleaning products, it makes good sense to track your inventory carefully. The challenge simply lies in creating a system that works for you.

What Makes Fineline Settings So Different from Other Tableware Manufacturers?

Departing slightly from the standard product offering, Fineline Settings goes a step up from functional plastics and tableware to focusing on beauty and quality also.

Other similar manufacturers typically focus on just the basics. Because, that’s all your company typically needs. You simply need cups that hold water without leaking – and that are produced in a sustainable way.

While that makes sense in most situations, Fineline takes plastic tableware to new heights so you can elicit a specific feeling of appreciation for the finer things in life. That’s perfectly okay and appropriate for the right occasion.

So take a look at a few of their product lines to get a better idea of what we mean:

1. Silver Splendor

This product line includes both utensils and plates and dishes. For example, you can get square dinner and dessert plates (sized slightly smaller) with gold bands, blue and gold bands, or silver bands.

Plates and bowls can also be round and come in black, a color that signifies luxury.

Combine this with gold-colored utensils (available in other product lines), and you can easily see how you can take the feel for your event up a notch.

2. Flairware

With a name like this, you’re already getting excited because you know you’ll find something fancy.

The stemware line includes champagne flutes, wine goblets, and old-fashioned champagne glasses (shaped much like martini glasses). Margarita glasses and special dessert cups are also available.

If you need to put on a certain air at your event, Fineline’s Flairware certainly makes it possible.

3. Golden Secrets

The golden utensils that come in this product line do exactly as you expect. Spoons, forks, knives, and cake cutters are available.

Skyrocket the luxurious feel for your event – without breaking your budget at the same time!

So do you see the different direction Fineline’s coming from? They want to help you make a lasting impression.

…And they certainly do!

So that’s why we’re happy to recommend them when they make sense for your needs.

3 Opportunities for Greater Picking, Packing, & Shipping Efficiency

For most smaller companies, the pick, pack, and ship process represents the greatest time consumed – and largest inefficiency.

That’s not bad. It simply means you have ample opportunity to improve your operating efficiency so you can divert more time and money toward other business investments.

In your pick, pack, and ship process, these are the areas to audit and analyze to win big efficiency gains:

1. Implement an Order Management Software System

Your software should help your employees pick the entire order in a single pass, eliminating the need to check and recheck an aisle multiple times. You should also be able to pick multiple orders simultaneously.

That means your software works with wireless devices to map routes so it understands where you keep your inventory. And all the data related to the pick should be kept digitally on a handheld device (not on printed paper).

2. Optimize Inventory Locations

Which of your products sell the fastest right now? Do you have seasonal items coming up soon?

Your fastest-selling inventory should be located nearest your packing stations. And if you have multiple products that frequently get bought together, they should be located near one another also.

You might also consider creating kits, which means you simply pre-pack the items together so they’re ready to ship when ordered.

3. Audit Picking Paths and Minimize Touches

In an ideal world, your order only gets touched once during the pick, pack, and ship process. That means no errors. And it means packing the order correctly the first time.

You shouldn’t have to repack the item into different size containers. Think of that as “rework.”

Make sure you include regular audits of your pick, pack, and ship paths and the number of touches. It’s easy to become inefficient, especially during times of rapid growth.

Understand This Isn’t Simple!

The pick, pack, and ship process is complex. It’s not easy to fix it in just a few days. And the more employees, products, and orders you get, the harder it is to optimize – and keep it efficient.

So the sooner you analyze and optimize your processes, the better. And the more regular you make your optimization, the better.

Make it a priority – and watch the efficiency of your company increase in response.

4 Ways Retailers Can Attract Customers in 2018

Isn’t it Amazon’s fault?

Well, yes, Amazon is a leading factor in the demise of many retailers. But, believe it or not, it’s far from the only factor. And in many cases, it may not even be the primary factor.

So if you think you’re in trouble because of the unstoppable behemoth that Amazon is, you don’t necessarily need to fret. It’s easy to point to Amazon. But if you analyze your own company, you likely have solid opportunity to remain competitive for decades to come.

Here’s what to look for:

1. Tap New Markets

We won’t name names, but a massive athletic wear brand has poor domestic sales because they’re not serving the booming athleisure market. “Athleisure” refers to athletic wear suitable for both exercise and everyday wear.

Lululemon has focused in on this market quite well. And they’re reaping the rewards.

Do you have any similar opportunities?

2. Continue the Transition to Online Sales

Every chain certainly recognizes this trend, which will only continue to grow across the globe. However, many aren’t changing their business models to match.

Do you have a team or entire department solely dedicated to increasing online sales? Have you hired the sharpest consultants and firms to help you make the transition faster and with fewer costly mistakes?

You can visit the websites of many leading retailers…and find them making even basic mistakes that cost them droves of sales (like a slow or awkward website experience).

3. Appeal to Millennials and Generation Z

Globally and domestically, Millennials and Generation Z are the largest generations in terms of sheer numbers. Some brands designed to appeal to older generations don’t have many (or any) product lines targeted at these generations.

Who primarily buys your product? Do you have product lines focused on these younger, up-and-coming generations with serious spending power?

Other brands have full awareness of this issue, yet fail to adapt. But they’ve done so only to cause themselves more pain.

4. Create Original Products the Market Wants

Easier said than done, this is the surest way to retail success. For some retailers who’ve dominated markets for years, it’s hard to accept this fact.

Think of Crocs, for example. Remember when practically everyone had a pair of these casual shoes?

Though they’ve been hurting, they’re trying to inject fresh life into their brand with new lines of shoes. Hopefully, they’ve tested these with the market and confirmed their value.

How can you do the same?

Competing with Amazon directly is impossible. But you can survive and thrive here in 2018 and beyond with the right tactics.

5 Ways to Improve Your Packaging Efficiency

Every business benefits from efficiency, but retail especially benefits from every last little optimization you can make in all your processes. That includes how you package your product.

So take a look at a few ways you might use to improve your packaging efficiency:

1. Plan Your Packaging Design from the Beginning

Many businesses leave this over as a final step in the process. Big mistake! You must have a clear plan for your packaging in mind from the outset. It’s crucial for winning attention and more sales.

With your packaging, consider its cost, design, space required on the shelf, and how much space you have for production.

2. The Massive Difference Machinery Makes

The most skilled and well-intended employee just can’t match up with a machine. The typical pallet wrapper increases pallet wrapping speed by an astonishing 70%.

So how much work do people currently do on your packaging? Perform an audit and figure out how much using machinery can improve your efficiency. It may also make sense to hire an experienced consultant to perform an analysis of your packaging.

3. Gather as Much Data as Possible

You don’t have to use IoT, but that’s clearly a trend that makes sense to capitalize on. Whether you use IoT or find other methods for data collection, it’s key to determining your packaging efficiency.

You’ll want to look at your film waste, damaged product, and time required to package, among many other data points. You may also want to work closely with your supplier, who knows the latest price fluctuations.

4. Don’t Forget to Analyze How You Use Your Space

The typical occupancy cost (cost of your space and utilities divided by your total cost per order) runs from 25-35%. So some of the first places you should look for efficiency improvement should be up and around.

Receiving, picking, packing, and shipping should use 40-50% of your space. Product storage should use the remainder. Racks, mezzanines, conveyor belts, and multilevel order-picking can dramatically improve your efficiency.

5. Communicate Performance Metrics To Your Team

Your team needs to understand your baseline. They must know what they’re doing is measured so they can learn what to do to help improve your packaging efficiency.

Most employees want to know exactly how they’re performing. They take pride in improving productivity.

So, create your own system for doing that. Consider including challenges with performance-based incentives to increase productivity even further.

There you have a mini packaging efficiency audit. And you have solid ideas for improving your efficiency going forward.

President’s Club Vendor Profile: Bocks Board Packaging

We’re taking a bit of a detour from the direction our vendor profiles typically take. Up to this point, we’ve discussed fairly large companies, including many household brands.

Bocks Board is a smaller company focused on specialized product niches other vendors up to this point haven’t necessarily honed in on. Other vendors may produce these products too. However, they’re not a focus for those companies.

But for Bocks Board, these non-typical product lines are the standard. Take a look at some examples to see what we mean:

1. Freezer Paper

Yep. It’s necessary. And up to this point, you haven’t seen any of our vendors who produce this.

Bocks Board makes three kinds of freezer paper, ranging from heavy to light. In addition to being used to package food for freezer storage, this paper also gets used in industrial applications where poly wrap is required (typically with certain metals and lumber).

2. Steak Paper

Well, someone’s gotta make it, don’t they? Bocks Board’s steak paper isn’t just used to protect steaks.

It also enhances the appearance of the meat to improve sales.

3. Pizza Inserts

Note that this does not refer to pizza boxes or containers that store pizzas. Pizza inserts instead sit under carry-out pizzas and absorb grease so it doesn’t run through the box and make a mess for customers.

This also preserves the quality of the pizza. The grease and oil would otherwise also get absorbed by the pizza, which would make it soggy. And clearly, that would bother many customers.

So yes, it’s a small thing. But it makes a big difference to companies that sell pizza.

4. Bogus Paper

Don’t believe the name – it’s 100% legit!

Bogus paper uses recyclable raw materials from boxes, phone books, newspapers, and regular books. Brown and gray in color, bogus paper feels fluffier and softer than other paper used as void fill and dunnage.

Typically, companies who manufacture industrial tools and appliances use this for wrapping. Other industries that use this include auto parts, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, and tile and brick manufacturers.

So yes, Bocks Board Packaging undoubtedly fulfills a niche need. And when they make sense for your company, we’re more than happy to recommend them to you.